Ngannou’s former manager reveals threats from Abdelaziz after Slim Trabelsi poaching

Earlier this month Ali Abdelaziz tried to shame Fernand Lopez of Paris MMA factory on social media. Lopez’ claim to fame was coaching and managing Ngannou for a number of years – and after his departure from the team elevating Cyril Gane  to interim champion.

Meanwhile Ali Abdelaziz managed many former UFC champions and has a, perhaps, the longest list of clients in the UFC out of any manager active in MMA.

Fernand Lopez is head of MMA factory and Sports Director of ARES FC, a European MMA promotion. ARES FC champion Slim Trabelsi tried to join UFC on short notice as a replacement for UFC 280 – but was faced with a draconic break fee when he tried to get out of his contract with Ares FC.

Lopez gave an interview to BJ Penn explaining how he came to a decision block Trabelsi’s UFC debut despite the fact that his contract specifically allows for his release to UFC.

According to Lopez he took in Trabelsi from another gym and the two signed a management contract:

“I told him he didn’t need to pay me because he didn’t have money and I’ll take care of him. He then signed a management deal with us and we will go from there. So, after he started training, he was very talented in wrestling but needed help with striking.”

Lopez explained that he introduced Trabelsi to UFC matchmaker Mick Maynard in Paris – and discovered that Trabelsi was going behind his back.

“UFC was then coming to Paris on September 10 and I told Mick when you come to Paris, I want you to attend the show to meet Slim. I attended the show and Mick asked me who my guy is? I told him Slim. He started to laugh and I said what’s wrong? He said he had Ali (Abdelaziz) on the phone and he said he has this guy and I should sign him and I said no way, I have been working with this guy for four years and I just re-signed him four months ago and everything is going smooth. He was training in my gym, I’m the one who manages him and there is no chance he has another contract.”

After Slim was tapped for UFC 280, Lopez went to Maynard only to learn he had listed Abdelaziz as his manager:

“I went back to Mick and he’s saying Slim listed Ali as his manager. I told Mick no, and he said I needed to talk to Slim. I said I’m not going to talk to Slim because as the Ares president before any guy moves from Ares he needs a release.”

According to Lopez, UFC backed out of hiring Trabelsi once they learned he had an active contract with Lopez.

“Mick was very disappointed he called Ali and asked for the contract, Ali didn’t have one, he called me I sent him the contract and from there he told me he was releasing Slim.”

Abdelaziz began messaging and calling Lopez which Lopez recorded.

Abdelaziz: “Brother, France doesn’t have s**t brother. I f*****g own the media. Let’s be real.”

Lopez: “You don’t understand me, I do not have any media, I do not. I do not.”

Abdelaziz: “Can I ask you a question? Why you think Damon Martin don’t put story out? He has the story, I said hey, please don’t put (it out) I don’t want this s**t. Why (do) you think he don’t put it out? Because I don’t want it put out.”


Lopez was dismayed Abdelaziz tried to sweet talk him into releasing Trabelsi.

“Hey Lopez can we talk let’s do this as gentlemen, why aren’t you letting the kid go? Let him go fight, I said what the f**k are you talking about. He was telling me this was a good kid and don’t ruin this kid’s dream,” Lopez said. “Like what the f**k are you talking about, I let this guy live in the gym, didn’t make him pay anything, gave him food. Ali was taking the best fighter I have, that I trained, promoted, and then he tried to take him right as he was about to get into the UFC.”

“He then told me if I didn’t release him, I would hurt you… He then asked what I want to release him and I said two things, but one thing is priceless,” Fernand Lopez continued. “I want to send a message out there that anyone in my management that tries to screw me and not respect the contract won’t be tolerated anymore. ”

Lopez went on to ask for 90,000 euros to release Trabelsi.

“I’m not trying to hold his career. I would’ve let Slim go if he was honest and told me he wanted to work with Ali, but the way he and Ali handled this going behind my back and lying to me, I don’t think that’s fair.”

Lopez and Trabelsi are likely to have to resolve their conflict in a court room. While the Frenchman might be asking for a bit too much considering Trabelsi only made $4000 for his contract with Ares FC it’s hard to not look at this story and be intrigued.

Intrigued about the fate of a promising athlete, about the MMA media Abdelaziz claims to own and about the many media outlets that refuse to provide all the details while covering the story.