As the saying goes, timing is everything. And UFC veteran Gian Villante believes now is the time to make a move he has been mulling for a while.
On Saturday at UFC Vegas 4, Villante will move up to heavyweight for the first time as a UFC fighter to take on Maurice Greene on the ESPN/ESPN+ main card.
“With the quarantine going on, getting down to 205 would have been an adventure,” Villante said. “The timing worked out to finally move up. I was always going to do it; it was just a matter of when. Coming off a loss, why not try it out.”
The way Villante was talking, it sounds like the move to heavyweight may be permanent. Villante believes his style is best served for heavyweight rather than light heavyweight. He may be on to something.
Villante’s pressure-first style results in back-and-forth entertaining fights – which is exactly what he wants. But they’re also hard to score. Before his most recent loss, Villante’s previous four fights (2-2) were all decided by split decision.
“Heavyweight is where I’d like my future to be at,” Villante said. “I move forward and am willing to trade with everybody. It could prove to be dangerous or fruitful. Go in there, have fun and make exciting fights. My whole thing is to make it dirty and move forward.”
His heavyweight counterparts may match this style more frequently and give Villante a better chance at finishes. It’s a high risk-reward situation, but one he’s confident in taking.
His confidence was proven in his decision to accept a fight with longtime heavyweight contender Ben Rothwell. Villante was willing to make his heavyweight debut against Rothwell at UFC 249, but his coaches stepped in. Villante has asthma and has contracted pneumonia in seven of the past 10 years. The risk of getting infected with the coronavirus wasn’t one his team was willing to take.
“I don’t have the best lungs, so they convinced me not to do it,” Villante said. “I stayed in quarantine and isolation and then finally said, ‘Enough of this, I need to work.’”
Villante will certainly have his work cut out for him against Greene, who's hungry and knows his job may be on the line after suffering back-to-back losses. He even dished out some advice for Villante.
“If he doesn’t wrestle, he’s going to get knocked the f*** out,” Greene told bjpenn.com.
Villante apparently had not heard Greene’s advice until he was asked about it during Thursday’s official media day.
“I guess I should wrestle then,” Villante laughed. “I’m not a huge game plan guy. I go in there and get the feel and fight.”