Levittown's Gian Villante wants to knock people out. He likes it. "If I find myself in a spot where I can put him away right here, I go for it right away," he said.
But after 12 professional mixed-martial arts bouts, he's learned a few things.
"If I go into the ring thinking, 'Hey I'm knocking this guy out in 30 seconds,' then if I don't do it, I'm going to be gassed . . . I try to tell myself before I get in the ring, 'Three-round war, three-round war, three-round war.' If [the knockout] happens, it happens. If not, I'll grind it out and get that win, that smart win."
Yes, the dichtomy of the fighter's mentality can astound.
Villante (9-3), who trains with Keith Trimble at Bellmore Kickboxing Academy, has had both types of fights. For fight No. 13, Saturday against Derrick Mehmen on the Strikeforce undercard in San Jose, Calif., the approach is the same for the light heavyweight: win the fight.
This is the fifth fight on 26-year-old Villante's six-fight deal with Strikeforce. He lost the first two and won his next two, the most recent being a first-round TKO of Trevor Smith in January. Mehmen (12-4) is 2-2 in his last four fights, with all going the distance.
A 2003 state champion wrestler for MacArthur High School and an All-American football player at Hofstra, Villante has always relied on his strength in the cage. Since his last fight, Villante said he began lifting weights again and started working with a new strength coach, Jamal Hamid based in Garden City.
"One of my biggest strengths is . . . my strength," Villante said. "That was a big base of mine. If I lose that, I'll be just like every other guy. I want to stay stronger than everyone I fight."