Gian Villante trains at Bellmore Kickboxing Academy for his Strikeforce...

Gian Villante trains at Bellmore Kickboxing Academy for his Strikeforce mixed martial arts debut on Feb. 12 against Chad Griggs at the Izod Center in East Rutherford, N.J. (Feb. 2, 2011) Credit: Photo by Mark La Monica

Visibly gassed, GIan VIllante was taken down with 15 seconds left in the third round. All he could do was just muster a smile, the kind of smile where a fighter knows he's beat.

Villante, the former All-American wrestler at MacArthur High School, lost by unanimous decision to light heavyweight Lorenz Larkin at Strikeforce Challengers 16 on Friday night in Seattle, Wash. All three judges scored it 29-28.

Villante was highly effective in the first round, using a trio of low leg kicks to get inside for the takedown of Larkin (11-0). From there, Villante (7-3) controlled Larkin with his body for the final four minutes and won the round with a mixture of occasional short elbows and punches.

In the second round, Larkin kept the fight standing and dictated the pace with assorted punches and kicks. He dominated Villante with the jab, which kept the Levittown native at a distance where he couldn't put his superior wrestling skills to good use. Villante shot in once when he caught a leg kick but Larkin kept his balance. 

Villante showed more energy to open the third round, but again, Larkin's striking set the pace of the fight. It's Villante second straight loss since signing with Strikeforce. In February, he fought at heavyweight and lost a first-round slugfest against Chad Griggs.

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