Gian Villante had been itching to fight in the octagon again. Sparring with the likes of UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman and 10th-ranked middleweight Costas Philippou for the past six weeks is nice and all, but that's just training.
The Levittown-raised Villante will do the same over the next eight weeks but with a different end goal. He'll be the one fighting in the cage against light heavyweight Fabio Maldonado at UFC Fight Night in Brazil in March. Villante has agreed to the fight, but no bout agreement has been signed as of this posting. The UFC has yet to officially announce the fight card and date.
Maldonado first announced the fight on his Facebook page on Saturday, and Newsday confirmed the fight pairing with Villante on Sunday morning.
Villante (11-4, 1-1 UFC) and his management team had been asking for a fight soon, with Maldonado among the names mentioned. Maldonado (20-6, 3-3) is coming off back-to-back decision wins over Joey Beltran and Roger Hollett in 2013. Before that, the Brazilian had lost three in a row.
Villante, a former All-American wrestler at MacArthur High School and All-American football player at Hofstra, won his last fight by second-round knockout against Cody Donovan at UFC 167 in November, a fight he took on less than three weeks' notice. In his UFC debut seven months earlier, Villante lost by technical decision after the referee stopped the bout because of an eye poke from Ovince St. Preux.