Gian Villante added to UFC 167 against Cody Donovan
Beforehand, Gian Villante was passed out on his couch, the TV still on and tuned to Monday Night Football.
Afterward, Gian Villante was wide awake and running on a treadmill in his living room.
In between, his phone rang. The call he'd been hoping on for some time. The Levittown-based Villante got his next fight -- UFC 167 against Cody Donovan on Nov. 16 in Las Vegas.
"I've been waiting forever, it feels like," said Villante, a light heavyweight. "This is the UFC. Just be ready."
Villante (10-4, 0-1 UFC) replaces Robert Drysdale in the UFC's 20th anniversary show with 19 days' notice. According to a statement from Zuffa, UFC's parent company, Villante filled the spot after Drysdale "learned that the Nevada Athletic Commission had concerns about the results of his pre-fight drug test and granting him a license to compete."
Villante, who was an All-American wrestler at MacArthur High School and an All-American football player at Hofstra, debuted in the UFC last April. He lost to Ovince St. Preux by majority technical decision because of an eye poke.
In the third round of that bout, St. Preux caught Villante with an eye poke and he backed away from the action clutching his eye. Referee Kevin Mulhall asked Villante if he could see, and Villante responded with a natural reaction of "No." A few seconds later, the referee stopped the bout.
"I'm just going to pretend like I don't speak English if they ask me anything this time," Villante said jokingly. "I plan on wearing safety goggles in there. I wonder if that's allowed."
Donovan (8-3, 1-1) is also coming off a loss to St. Preux in his last fight, a first-round knockout at UFC Fight Night 26 in August.
The 19 days to prepare for the fight is the shortest prep time Villante said he's ever had for a fight, be it in Strikeforce or Ring of Combat. But, if he needs tips on how to do it, he can turn to training partner Chris Weidman, who took his first UFC fight on 19 days' notice back in February 2011. Weidman once dropped 32 pounds on 11 days' notice for a January 2012 bout. Weidman also happens to be the UFC middleweight champion.
Villante, who trains out of Bellmore Kickboxing Academy, becomes the fifth Long Island-based fighter with a UFC bout to close out the year. Wantagh's Al Iaquinta beat Piotr Hallman last Saturday in England. West Islip's Dennis Bermudez fights Steven Siler at UFC Fight for the Troops on Nov. 6, then three days later, teammate Ryan LaFlare of Lindenhurst fights Santiago Ponzinibbio at UFC Fight Night in Brazil. Weidman, from Baldwin, will defend his UFC middleweight title against Anderson Silva at UFC 168 on Dec. 28 in Las Vegas.
"I'm definitely excited," said Villante, 28. "I'm going to have a chance to get back in there and put this thing on the right track after that freak incident the last time."