Coach Fernand Lopez Responds To Critics Following Francis Ngannou’s Loss At UFC 220
MMA Factory Paris head coach Fernand Lopez is back in France following Francis Ngannou’s loss in Boston last week and he’s currently dealing with the aftermath.
Ngannou was widely criticised for his approach to the fight and UFC colour commentator Joe Rogan mentioned on his podcast just a day after that he’d been told the title challenger hadn’t been working on his wrestling or ground game (See HERE). Speaking to MMANytt.com earlier today, Lopez responded to the criticism that he and his team had received following the fight.
“I was surprised that someone like Joe Rogan said that Francis didn’t know what to do on the ground,” Lopez said. “I think people should go check the fight again. Francis spent three minutes throwing heavy punches without hitting the target and he wasted a lot of energy. After that, he got taken to the ground and he was in the cross mount. At that position, when you have a heavy wrestler on your back and you really have a very little small amount of moves you can make from there. Even if you check the highest level events of grappling, with legit black belts, you will see they wait on their back waiting for the guy on top to make a move because you cannot do anything if the guy is blocking you on the ground. We saw Stipe keeping Francis on the ground and only sometimes throw a hammer with the left hand. There wasn’t room to get inside to get the underhook. What I’m trying to say is that if Francis didn’t know what he was doing on the ground, how come Stipe, who has way more experience in professional MMA and who has vicious ground and pound, how come Stipe didn’t finish Francis on the ground if Francis didn’t know what he was doing?
“The fight was on the ground nearly 80% of the time. So how come he didn’t finish him? Francis has a good ground game and if you check at the end of the fourth round, Francis went for a heel hook and it made Stipe run away. Francis could’ve stood up, but he didn’t have enough energy, that’s why he just laid down. We spent a lot of time working on his ground game with legit black belts. We spent time in Vegas and he was working with Vinny Magalhaes. He showed very good things. Stipe had head control, but he didn’t finish him. Stipe had a guillotine, but he didn’t finish him. Stipe escaped a heel hook from Francis – when was the last time you saw a heavyweight go for a heel hook? It’s not fair to say he didn’t work his ground game. He did. It’s not fair to say that Francis didn’t work his wrestling. He did. Wrestling isn’t just about attacking, it’s about defending and he showed good things on that.”
Ngannou was also criticised for gassing so early in the fight, but Lopez reminded people that heavyweights aren’t built to go out swinging for the fences for 25-minutes. The MMA Factory head coach is yet to understand why the gameplan they built prior to the fight was implemented.
“You also cannot blame the cardio,” Lopez said. “There’s not a single heavyweight who goes into a fight like that. He spent so much energy in the first and second round he couldn’t make it 25-minutes. We had the gameplan, but we didn’t implement it. I just don’t know what happened there.
“You can question the gameplan and what happened there, but please do not question the wrestling, do not question the ground game, and do not question the cardio. With the wrestling, it’s about the timing and where you are and where the opponent is when they shoot. Francis was in the pocket every time that Stipe shot in and he simply shouldn’t have been there.”
Some of the criticism online focused on Ngannou’s corner using towels instead of ice bags to cool him down in between rounds. Lopez explained why they used the methods they did.
“People have to stop with the criticism and they were even questioning why we were trying to help him recover with the towels? When people don’t understand something, they immediately think it’s bad,” he said. “They believe that if they have one pack of ice on your back, neck or chest, that it will be better for them than having two towels that have been in ice for hours. Francis has a huge body so you have to make sure that you recover all the body.
“The towels will take down the temperature and help regulate the temperature of his body faster than a bag of ice. If you go back to the Curtis Blaydes fight or the Enrique fight, two fights that went to the second round, we used the towels, but of course, no one noticed we used the towels. Now he’s lost, they question us using them. It’s bulls***. They just want someone to blame now there’s a loss.”