On fighting Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, Gian Villante sounded more than excited.
“First of all, he’s a legend,” the Levittown-raised Villante said. “Second of all, his style. Just his style I think makes a perfect fight for me.”
On fighting the aggressive, hard-hitting Brazilian in Brazil rather than in his home state of New York?
“Fighting in Brazil will be a little easier,” Villante said.
On fighting in front of the Brazilian crowd?
“They tell me they’re gonna kill me. What do they say? ‘We wanna kill you’? That means I’m gonna die. Yeah, great,” Villante said.
He was referencing the Brazilian fans’ famous chant of “Uh vai morrer,” which translates into English from Portuguese as “You’re going to die.”
Told of the exact translation in a backstage interview during UFC 208 in Brooklyn, Villante said, “Yeah, yeah, awesome stuff.”
Villante’s tone was light-hearted and good-natured about it, in line with his general approach to life.
Villante is scheduled to fight Rua, a former UFC light heavyweight and Pride Grand Prix champion, at UFC Fight Night on March 11 in Fortaleza, Brazil. Villante said he looked up to Rua and loved watching his fights as he was coming up in the sport after playing football at Hofstra University.
“It’s awesome,” Villante, 31, said of getting the chance to fight the man he enjoyed watching years ago. “I just think of it as more of a fun thing to go in there and be able to party with the guy.”
Another translation needed here: party equals get into a slugfest of a mixed martial arts fight against the 35-year-old Rua, put on a show for the fans, get that fight of the night bonus check, enjoy every minute of it and move on to the next one.
Villante (15-7, 5-4 UFC) won his last fight in December by second-round TKO against Saparbek Safarov. It was the third time in his last six fights that Villante earned a $50,000 bonus for fight of the night. Rua (24-10, 8-8) won his last two fights by decision against Antonio Rogerio Nogueira in August 2015 and Corey Anderson in May 2016.
“Both of us love wars, getting punched in the face, punching other people in the face,” said Villante, who trains at Bellmore Kickboxing Academy. “I know I’m going to go in there and probably come home with a black eye. I don’t mind that. I think that’s the great part about it, the beauty of it. It’s gonna be a fun, fun fight.”