Will distractions affect Francis Ngannou heading into UFC 270 fight against Ciryl Gane?

When Francis Ngannou heads to UFC 270 on January 22, he won’t just be fighting Ciryl Gane. The UFC heavyweight champion is in a battle with Dana White and the UFC, his former trainer Fernand Lopez and WBC heavyweight champion Tyson Fury.

Ngannou must put everything else on the back burner inside the Honda Center in Anaheim, California. Otherwise, your goal of earning more money at age 35 will be just a dream. As the saying goes, heavy is the head that wears the crown.

A power puncher with 12 knockout wins, Ngannou made his UFC debut in 2015. After losing two in a row in 2018, one to Stipe Miocic for the UFC heavyweight title, Ngannou would go on to win five in a row by some form of knockout. One of those wins came at UFC 260 in March when he beat Miocic in a rematch for the title. Competing in the last fight of his UFC deal, Ngannou is trying to get the upper hand when it comes to what he wants.

“No, I will no longer fight for $500,000, $600,000,” Ngannou said. via MMA Fighting. “I mean, it’s over. It’s over. I just did this. I accepted this fight for a personal reason, and I want to make sure that regardless, even if it is unfair, I have been treated poorly, I can make my case to say that I have completed all eight fights. But not.”

Ngannou has been linked to controversies before regarding money. Jon Jones and White have argued over what the salary would be in a potential Jones-Ngannou fight. White has also stated that if he thinks he can find a better deal and a better opportunity, so be it. The UFC president believes that Ngannou’s agent is not helping the champion’s cause, which has sparked debate in the MMA community.

Outside of the battle with the UFC, Ngannou and Lopez continue to get on their nerves. Ngannou was a part of MMA Factory from 2013 to 2018. When he parted ways with the group, tensions ran high with Ngannou even saying that Lopez wanted the spotlight on him. A video of Gane and Ngannou fighting was posted, with the latter thinking it was being shown to make him look bad. Anger could get the best of Ngannou, as if he had something to prove against Gane and Lopez.

Then there is boxing. Wanting to box since he was a child, Ngannou has the power to immerse himself in the heavyweight scene of that sport. But is he looking too far ahead? Lopez said it would be three years before Ngannou could be competitive in the sport. Michael Bisping spoke on his YouTube page and said that this is not helping Ngannou head into UFC 270.

“I think all of this could be a distraction,” Bisping said, via the South China Morning Post. “Ciryl Gane is a very, very tough opponent for any man. You just have to be careful. You can say ‘I’m not getting distracted’, but that’s not how distractions work. Ciryl Gane is probably in the gym, on the training ground right now, just thinking about Francis Ngannou, formulating a game plan. Then when you Google Francis Ngannou, there’s talk of contract, there’s talk of money, and there’s talk of boxing. You need to be careful.

Making his MMA debut in 2018, Gane joined the UFC in 2019. Gane is 7-0 with the promotion. He beat Derrick Lewis for the interim title in August. A multi-talented athlete, Gane can wear down an opponent and outmatch them from the opening bell.

The heavyweight champion has been appearing in movies, has partnered with Cash App and is taking half of his purse from UFC 270 in Bitcoin. There’s a lot going on ahead of fight week. History has shown that distractions outside the Octagon can have unfortunate results on fight night. Think of Ronda Rousey against Holly Holm or Amanda Nunes, and Conor McGregor against Khabib Nurmagomedov.

Ngannou may be in the best shape of his career. I could have all the confidence in the world. With so much going on, will he be able to put on his blinders and focus on Win? That will be the million dollar question heading into UFC 270.