Anaheim, CA — The final promotional push to UFC 270 on Saturday got underway with the event’s pre-fight press conference in Anaheim on Thursday.
There, four current and former champions converged, with plenty of barbs traded back and forth. Will any of it impact the fights? That remains to be seen. Perhaps the biggest takeaways were simply this: Francis Ngannou has put Jon Jones in the rear view mirror, and Deiveson Figueiredo has embraced the villain role.
The Brazilian known as “Deus Da Guerra” (God of War) certainly looked the part, decked out with shades, a watch that looked as if it cost more than most flyweights earn in a year, and a sparkling grill.
“Brandon Moreno, crybaby. It’s crybaby, motherf*cker,” Figueiredo taunted the flyweight champion. “I’m going to knock you out.”
“Why you try so hard, man? Money? Fame?” retorted Moreno. “Please, stop doing that, brother. I know you’re a nice guy, man. Just stop, just stop trying so hard. You don’t need it, you don’t need to do that, man.”
When Figueiredo cited illness before their first meeting, and a tough weight cut ahead of their rematch, as the reasons for his less than ideal prior performances, Moreno fired back. “Excuses, excuses, excuses.”
But Figueiredo embraced the heel role later. Asked about bouncing back from a previous loss to Jussier Formiga, the former champ replied “that’s why Brandon is scared of me. He knows I come back with a vengeance off a loss. I come back stronger, he knows this, I’m going to knock him out. Son of a b*tch.”
“I like to be the villain,” Figueiredo later added. “I love to rip off the head off the good guy. You just wait.”
Heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou was asked about a potential fight with Jon Jones. It’s a fight that was hyped up for the better part of two years, but which ultimately never materialized. It appears Ngannou has moved on.
“I’m done with that fight,” Ngannou insisted. “I’ve been waiting for that fight for so long. After Stipe [Miocic], it was supposed to be Jon Jones, and that never happened, I don’t know why. So I’ve moved on.”
Ngannou also told Cageside Press during Thursday’s press conference that despite the narrative, Ciryl Gane was “not a former teammate.”
That came as a surprise to Gane, who interjected. “Sorry my man. I was not your former teammate?”
For Ngannou, the matter comes down to time. The Cameroonian fighter explained that he’d already moved to Las Vegas, and only returned to MMA Factory in France for a few months, during which he and Gane sparred a handful of times. To Ngannou, that’s not a teammate.
Gane felt differently. “We sparred together, because we were from exactly the same team. We were not friends, that’s true. But we were former teammates.”
“Okay, so we have to redefine the meaning of teammates,” Ngannou later suggested.
There’s no question relations between Ngannou and his former camp have soured. But Gane working with Ferdinand Lopez, who trained Ngannou as he was coming up in the sport, could be the secret weapon for the French heavyweight.
“Yeah, this is something a little bit special for this fight, because we was born exactly with the same coach. But that’s why I’m really happy, and really proud of this fight. I can’t wait.” At the same time, Gane admitted that “it’s going to be a little bit hard for my coach.” Even with all the stories about Lopez and Ngannou falling out, Gane explained, “he was a real friend before that. He was a real friend before that, so it’s going to be hard for my coach, trust me.”