When a fighter’s last name gets attached to the first judge’s scorecard read aloud after a fight, it means three things are about to happen: a moment of suspense, followed by a split decision, followed by one unhappy fighter.
Gian Villante, a UFC light heavyweight fighter from Levittown, knows that feeling all too well.
His past four fights all have ended in a split decision. Twice he was the unhappy fighter going home with just some show money. Twice he was the happier, wealthier fellow with that second paycheck for winning the bout.
“Four [split decisions] in a row, it means that’s on me at this point, I gotta change something,” Villante said Saturday at Barclays Center for UFC Brooklyn. “I’ve been working some new things in there, some different things. Maybe go for more takedowns, something like that. Who knows?”
Villante (17-10, 7-7 UFC) will look to end his split-decision streak and to win back-to-back fights for the second time in his UFC career next month. He is set to face Michal Oleksiejczuk at UFC Fight Night in Prague, Czech Republic, on Feb. 23. The card will air on ESPN+ beginning at 2 p.m (EST).
"I do have to secure more points. For me, it’s always like – I think I’m going to land that knockout shot and the fight’s going to be over and I just wait for that to happen,” Villante said. “And I do hit guys with some hard shots. But while I’m doing this sometimes – let’s say that happens for a minute of the round, and the other four minutes are the guy scoring little meaningless pepper and those things are getting him points.
“Meanwhile, I might look fine after the fight. He might look like a mess. But he’s getting those points because of the other four minutes, so – it’s tough to judge fights. I don’t blame those guys, I get it. But it’s frustrating. So I’ve got to score some more points first and maybe get some takedowns, something, then I can go for my knockouts. I do want to finish fights, so we’ll see.”
Villante, who trains at Bellmore Kickboxing MMA, has the power to end a fight, for sure. Four of his seven wins in the UFC have come by knockout. He has 10 wins via knockout in his career. He also was an All-American wrestler at MacArthur High School and one of six New York State high school wrestling champions to compete in the UFC (others are Chris Weidman, Chris Wade, Gregor Gillespie, Jon Jones and Matthew Riddle).
This will be the first fight for Oleksiejczuk (12-2,1 no contest) since his one-year suspension for testing positive for a banned substance during an in-competition test for UFC 219 in December 2017. His win over Khalil Rountree Jr. was overturned to a no contest by the Nevada State Athletic Commission after the positive test.
Villante beat Ed Herman last October at UFC Moncton. Both of Villante’s losses in this split-decision streak came in New York.
“If you gave me a choice, go fight in New York in front of all your family and friends or go fight in Prague?” Villante, 33, said. “My family and friends have seen me fight enough. I’m getting old, I want go see the world.”