By now everyone knows the story regarding Francis Ngannou and Fernand Lopez. After Ngannou took a perilous journey to France from Cameroon, Lopez—who is also Cameroonian—found him in Paris and let him sleep in his MMA gym. Lopez then trained Ngannou and cornered him for his first few fights in the UFC. However, the pair split with Ngannou claiming his former coach wanted too much limelight and Lopez claiming his ex-student was ungrateful.
Lopez’s current top student, Ciryl Gane, is due to face Ngannou in a UFC heavyweight title unification bout at UFC 270. With Lopez and Ngannou scheduled to be opposite each other in the cage for the first time in their careers, both men have been questioned—ad nauseam—about their personal relationship and how it may affect the big fight.
Recently Lopez was asked something fresh about Ngannou; whether he thought the MMA knockout artist should switch codes to box Tyson Fury and whether he would stand a chance of winning if he did. Both Ngannou and Fury have teased fans lately about the prospect of facing each other in the ring.
“I think the fight makes sense for Francis because he thinks he can cash out,” said Lopez. “There’s also something there for Tyson Fury—he doesn’t care that it’s not a competitive fight, he just wants to make money and make some news.”
According to Lopez, if Ngannou did commit to facing Fury, it would take a while for ‘The Predator’ to sharpen his skills to a level worthy of competing with ‘The Gypsy King’.
“It would take at least three years for Francis Ngannou to be competitive from a boxing standpoint with Tyson Fury, and I mean three years only dedicated to boxing.
“Realistically he would have to stop everything else and probably do nothing else for three years, only boxing. No grappling, nothing else. The way that his body and muscles are built, it will not allow him to keep throwing punches after the third round.”
Lopez also broke down what a Ngannou vs. Fury fight might look like. And he doesn’t think his former student has what’s needed to hang with heavyweight boxing’s number one fighter.
“I’m not sure Francis can ever challenge the stamina or endurance of Tyson Fury. All he can do is have a high defence; be elusive, close footwork, change direction.
“But eventually Tyson will wear him down, get him tired, work the body and then go up with the uppercut, and sooner or later Francis will give up because of the volume, because of the pressure shots and he will just go down. I don’t see how he can win the match, this is an opportunity for him to cash out.”
Lopez also spoke about why he thinks it would be difficult for Ngannou to entertain the idea of boxing at this stage in his career, especially if—as Lopez hopes—he loses to Gane at the end of the month.
“Francis Ngannou wants to move over to boxing but that can only happen if he’s the champ. If he leaves the UFC and he’s not the champion, no matter which company he wants to go to, it won’t look good. We have to keep that in mind.
“You can’t ask for a new contract with a clause that allows you to go boxing, it makes no sense. And you cannot impose this on the UFC now you are a big name just because you want to cash in - those are not the terms of the agreement.”
UFC 270 is scheduled for January 20. Ngannou vs. Gane serves as the main event. The co-main sees Brandon Moreno meet Deiveson Figueiredo for the third time as he looks to defend his UFC flyweight title.
The quotes in this article first appeared on the Betway US blog.