FRANCIS NGANNOU has claimed he accidentally knocked out Ciryl Gane when the opponents were sparring partners.
Ngannou defends his heavyweight title à l'UFC 270 pendant le weekend against former team-mate Gane.
But their relationship soured after the Cameroonian champion left MMA Factory in Paris in 2018 to set up camp in America.
Now the former friends-turned rivals are on the verge of settling the score in the octagon.
And Ngannou claimed to already have Gane’s number, having knocked him out in sparring before.
He said at the UFC 270 conférence de presse: "Oui, I knocked him out. (C'était) a high kick, left high kick.
“That knockout wasn’t a voluntary knockout. It was in sparring. It was an accident. I didn’t intend to knock him out.
“I didn’t go there to knock him out. Personnellement, it’s not something that I feel proud of.
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“I don’t walk around and feel all tough because I knocked my sparring partner out or down or whatever.
“Usually stuff like that happens in training, but it’s always an accident because we’re committed to taking care of our partner.”
Ngannou was formerly coached by Gane’s head trainer Fernand Lopez but the two have since been embroiled in a feud in recent years.
And Lopez earlier in January said Gane, 31, dropped Ngannou, 35, with a body shot in an unreleased sparring session.
The coach told LowKick MMA: “He didn’t want me to release the whole footage because in that specific training, Francis Ngannou ate a knee shot to the liver and got dropped.
“Stopped the whole training. These are facts. Francis was on his backside. If he’s saying this isn’t true, I’ll release the whole footage.
“Mais, my content manager didn’t want to release it because we have a privacy in the gym. When guys train in your gym, they expect things to stay in the gym.”
That knockout wasn’t a voluntary knockout. It was in sparring. It was an accident. I didn’t intend to knock him out.
Francis Ngannou claims knocked out opponent Ciryl Gane in sparring
Ngannou has been trained in Las Vegas by coach Eric Nicksick in recent fights but briefly returned to MMA Factory in 2019.
It was there he shared the gym with Gane, but insisted it was only briefly, denying the pair ever being friends.
Ngannou said: “We just spent a few sessions in three weeks. It was maybe six sessions of training, definitely less than eight.
“That was back in January 2019, because after I fought Curtis Blaydes in China, I went back to Cameroon and on Christmas I had the Cain Velasquez fight.
“Donc, I couldn’t come back to Vegas in time to set up a training camp because the fight was on February 17th.
“I stopped in France and trained there for one month and at the time Ciryl was there training for his fight, I believe.
“Donc, he left even before I left. I think it was three weeks before I left to go for his fight.
“So after that, I think it was February 3rd, I flew to Phoenix, I was there two weeks before my fight, and that’s it.”