Francis Ngannou’s head coach, Eric Nicksick, explained that he didn’t want Ngannou to fight Ciryl Gane.
After his fight with Ciryl Gane, Francis Ngannou revealed that he had injured his ACL and his MCL, two injuries that take a long time to heal, which is why his coach wanted him to pull out of the bout.
While speaking on The MMA Hour, Ariel Helwani asked Ngannou’s head coach, Eric Nicksick, if Ngannou was close to pulling out of the fight.
“I don’t really think he was that close,” he said.
“We (his coaching team) all suggested that he should, that we didn’t think it was the right move to take this fight.”
Nicksick’s concern continued to grow to a point where he had to warn Ngannou.
— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) January 23, 2022
“We had that come to Jesus moment on Friday before we left and I was emotional, man.
“I wanted him to understand this wasn’t about us, this wasn’t about a paycheck, this wasn’t about anything other than safety for his health and his career.
“As his coach, I had to vocalise that. I can’t just sit here and not say something.”
With Ngannou happy to proceed, Nicksick decided that he would be happy to respect his decision.
“If you tell me, because you know your body, that you can fight… then I’m not going to mention this shit again.
“We’re going full steam ahead and you’re going to have my support no matter what.”
Nicksick also revealed how the injury occurred, saying that it happened when a new training partner came in to spar Ngannou.
“It was about three and a half weeks ago, I believe, it was during sparring and we had a big heavyweight come in town, he was a guy that was going to be on the contender series.
“We worked with him on Monday at more of a grappling day, he was a great training partner for Francis.”
Ngannou was getting the better of his opponent which led to a takedown being shot out of desperation.
“Francis was standing southpaw, Francis was kind of piecing him up a little bit and I could tell the guy was getting anxious so the guy shot a very, very low single.
“Not him trying to be mean or anything, just him taking a shot but it was really low and went onto Francis’s lead leg which was his right leg and with the shin pads and knee pads on his knee kind of buckled funny.”
Ngannou continued on for the rest of the sparring session but had to have the leg checked out after the training was complete.
“He cringed and grabbed it, got up and moved it around a little bit and then actually finished up the rounds.
“We then went to the PI (performance institute) and got it looked at the next day.
“He had an MRI and it was a full MCL tear and he had damage to the ACL as well.”
— MMAFighting.com (@MMAFighting) January 24, 2022