August 18, 1985
Wantagh, New York, United States
|Height||6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)|
|Weight||205 lb (93 kg; 14 st 9 lb)|
|Division||Light Heavyweight (205 lb)
Heavyweight (265 lb)
|Reach||76.0 in (193 cm)|
|Fighting out of||Bellmore, New York, United States|
|Team||Bellmore Kickboxing Academy Long Island MMA|
|Rank||Blue belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu |
|Mixed martial arts record|
|Notable school(s)||MacArthur High School (Levittown, New York)|
|Mixed martial arts record from Sherdog|
Gianpiero Villante (born August 18, 1985) is an American mixed martial artist currently fighting in the Light Heavyweight division of the Ultimate Fighting Championship. A professional competitor since 2009, he has formerly competed for Strikeforce.
Villante attended MacArthur High School (Levittown, New York) and was part of the Class of 2003. During his junior year, he placed third in the New York State Wrestling Championships. He followed this up his senior year by winning the New York State Championship at the 215 pound weight class. Villante was equally accomplished in football, in which he received the 2002 Thorpe Award winner as the top football player in Nassau County, also the Bill Piner Award as the top linebacker in Nassau County and was named to the High School Heisman All-Star team. Villante drew interest from major Division I schools, such as Penn State and Michigan State. Villante chose to stay home and committed to Hofstra University.  Villante attended Hofstra University from 2003-2007 where he continued his highly successful football and wrestling careers. Villante started his first game against Marshall University, as a true freshman, at middle linebacker. Gian kept his starting role the rest of his freshman year. The following season Villante was named a 2004 1st Team Defensive I-AA All-American by The Sports Network. He was regarded as a potential NFL linebacker prospect. The New York Giants, New York Jets, Indianapolis Colts, and Philadelphia Eagles all expressed interest in Villante. Villante wrestled for Hofstra where he became close with NCAA All-American wrestler and future UFC Middleweight Chris Weidman.
Mixed martial arts career
Ring of Combat
Villante made his MMA debut quickly after making the decision to begin MMA training. He defeated MMA veteran Randy Durant by quickly drawing a TKO due to a nasty cut. Villante then flew through his next few opponents, only once having it last through the first round. He quickly was the top Heavyweight contender in Ring of Combat. He got his shot and after defeating Strikeforce veteran Mike Cook for the vacant Ring of Combat Heavyweight title, Villante was touted as a legit MMA prospect.
Villante made his Light Heavyweight debut at Ring of Combat XXIX with aspirations on becoming a champion in two weight classes. However Villante lost by TKO after breaking his elbow and moved back up to heavyweight. After an extended recovery from his wrist injury, Villante had a highlight reel KO win over Joseph Reyes.
On January 11, 2011, it was announced that Villante had signed a multi-fight deal with Strikeforce. Villante was quickly thrown into a Heavyweight Grand Prix Reserve bout on short notice. His opponent would be Chad Griggs in one of three heavyweight grand prix reserve bouts at Strikeforce: Fedor vs. Silva. In which many people called the fight, the "Fight of the Night." He lost the fight via TKO in the first round on a referee stopage.
Villante made the decision to drop back down to light heavyweight. In his next bout, Villante would take on undefeated prospect Lorenz Larkin on June 24, 2011 at Strikeforce Challengers: Fodor vs. Terry. After repeatedly taking down Larkin and easily taking the first round, Villante appeared to be suffering from his dramatic weight cutting. Villante began to tire and eventually Larkin went on to win a unanimous decision. Questions began to swirl as to whether or not Villante could effectively complete a Three Round Fight. He was also criticized for not sticking to a wrestling game plan.
In his next fight, Villante took on Keith Berry in the Strikeforce Challengers: Gurgel vs. Duarte preliminary card. Despite the crowd's jeers, and multiple stand ups, Gian continually took down Berry and went on to win the fight unanimously on the judges scorecards.
Villante's next fight was against Trevor Smith on the preliminary card of Strikeforce: Rockhold vs. Jardine on January 7, 2012. Gian quickly attacked Smith catching a leg strike four seconds in. After landing several clean punches and knees on the ground, both stood up. The two trade strikes for about thirty seconds, when Villante once again caught a Smith kick and took him down. Villante held onto the leg and began landing numerous unanswered right hands, prompting referee Kim Winslow to stop the fight at 1:05 of the first round.
Gian continued his win streak with a unanimous decision victory over Derrick Mehmen. This was part of the Strikeforce: Barnett vs. Cormier undercard seen on Showtime Extreme. Gian was credited by announcer Frank Shamrock for his improved standup and his endurance during the fight. Mehmen had visible bruising on his thighs from the multiple leg kicks landed by Villante.
Gian was scheduled to fight undefeated Guto Inocente on the Strikeforce: Melendez vs. Healy main card. The entire card was canceled due to headliner Gilbert Melendez suffering an injury. Without the main event, Showtime canceled the entire event. Gian was featured in Newsday shortly after the announcement. The article featured Gian explaining how he was extremely upset about the cancellation, but focused more on how Gian was finally able to eat, after his grueling ordeal to make weight.
Ultimate Fighting Championship
In January 2013, the Strikeforce organization was closed by its parent company Zuffa. A list of fighters scheduled to be brought over to the Ultimate Fighting Championship was released in mid-January and Villante was one of the fighters listed.
For his UFC debut, Villante faced fellow promotional newcomer Ovince St. Preux on April 27, 2013 at UFC 159. The fight ended in unusual fashion as St. Preux accidentally poked Villante in the right eye with his thumb and referee Kevin Mulhall immediately called an end to the fight after asking Villante if he could see. As a result of the injury, the fight went to the judges' scorecards and St. Preux won a majority technical decision.
Villante took a short notice bout, replacing Robert Drysdale against Cody Donovan on November 16, 2014 at UFC 167. He won the fight via TKO in the second round, earning his first official UFC victory.
Villante was expected to face Anthony Perosh on June 28, 2014 at UFC Fight Night 43. However, Perosh was forced out of the bout with an injury and was replaced by Sean O'Connell. He won the fight via split decision, winning the first UFC fight in New Zealand.
Championships and accomplishments
Mixed martial arts
- Ring of Combat
- Ring of Combat Heavyweight Championship (One time)
- High school football
- 2001 All-Section VIII Linebacker
- 2001 All-Long Island Linebacker (Sect VIII&XI)
- 2002 All-Section VIII Linebacker
- 2002 All-Long Island Linebacker (Sect VIII&XI)
- 2002 Piner Award (Best Linebacker - Section VIII - Nassau County)
- 2002 Thorpe Award (Best Football Player - Section VIII - Nassau County)
- 2002 1st Team All-New York State
- 2002 1st All-Metro Team (Lower NY-Upper NJ)
- College football
- 2004 2nd Team Defensive All-Atlantic 10
- 2004 1st Team Defensive I-AA All-American
- 2006 1st Team Defensive All-Atlantic 10
- 2007 1st Team Defensive All-Colonial Conference
- High school wrestling
- 2002 Section VIII Nassau County Champion (215 lbs)
- 2002 New York State 3rd Place (215 lbs)
- 2003 Section VIII Nassau County Champion (215 lbs)
- 2003 New York State Champion (215 lbs)
Mixed martial arts record
|Professional record breakdown|
|17 matches||12 wins||5 losses|
|Win||12–5||Sean O'Connell||Decision (split)||UFC Fight Night: Te Huna vs. Marquardt||June 28, 2014||3||5:00||Auckland, New Zealand||Fight of the Night.|
|Loss||11–5||Fábio Maldonado||Decision (unanimous)||UFC Fight Night: Shogun vs. Henderson 2||March 23, 2014||3||5:00||Natal, Brazil|
|Win||11–4||Cody Donovan||KO (punches)||UFC 167||November 16, 2013||2||1:22||Las Vegas, Nevada, United States|
|Loss||10–4||Ovince St. Preux||Technical Decision (majority)||UFC 159||April 27, 2013||3||0:33||Newark, New Jersey, United States||Suffered an eye poke|
|Win||10–3||Derrick Mehmen||Decision (unanimous)||Strikeforce: Barnett vs. Cormier||May 19, 2012||3||5:00||San Jose, California, United States|
|Win||9–3||Trevor Smith||TKO (punches)||Strikeforce: Rockhold vs. Jardine||January 7, 2012||1||1:05||Las Vegas, Nevada, United States|
|Win||8–3||Keith Berry||Decision (unanimous)||Strikeforce Challengers: Gurgel vs. Duarte||August 12, 2011||3||5:00||Las Vegas, Nevada, United States|
|Loss||7–3||Lorenz Larkin||Decision (unanimous)||Strikeforce Challengers: Fodor vs. Terry||June 24, 2011||3||5:00||Kent, Washington, United States||Return to Light Heavyweight|
|Loss||7–2||Chad Griggs||TKO (punches)||Strikeforce: Fedor vs. Silva||February 12, 2011||1||2:49||East Rutherford, New Jersey, United States||Heavyweight Grand Prix Reserve Bout|
|Win||7–1||Joseph Reyes||TKO (punches)||Ring of Combat 33||December 3, 2010||1||1:03||Atlantic City, New Jersey, United States||Heavyweight bout|
|Loss||6–1||Demetrius Richards||TKO (arm injury)||Ring of Combat 29||April 16, 2010||1||3:27||Atlantic City, New Jersey, United States||Light Heavyweight Debut|
|Win||6–0||Mike Cook||Submission (rear-naked choke)||Ring of Combat 28||February 19, 2010||1||1:36||Atlantic City, New Jersey, United States||Won Ring of Combat Heavyweight Title|
|Win||5–0||Marcelo Pereira||KO (punch)||Ring of Combat 27||November 20, 2009||1||3:59||Atlantic City, New Jersey, United States|
|Win||4–0||Rob Wince||KO (head kick)||Ring of Combat 26||September 11, 2009||2||1:25||Atlantic City, New Jersey, United States|
|Win||3–0||Joe Abouata||TKO (punches)||Ring of Combat 25||June 12, 2009||1||1:48||Atlantic City, New Jersey, United States|
|Win||2–0||Paul White||Submission (rear-naked choke)||Ring of Combat 24||April 17, 2009||1||1:46||Atlantic City, New Jersey, United States|
|Win||1–0||Randy Durant||TKO (cut)||Ring of Combat 23||February 20, 2009||1||0:35||Atlantic City, New Jersey, United States|
- Bellmore Kickboxing Academy
- Leland Roling (January 17, 2011). "World MMA Light Heavyweight Scouting Report: #2 - Gian Villante". Bloody Elbow.
- Hofstra Student-Athlete Biography Page
- La Monica, Mark" (2010-02-08). "Gettin' to know Gian Villante". newsday.com. Retrieved 2010-03-15.
- The Sports Network I-AA All-America List
- Gian Villante NFL Draft Prospect Page
- La Monica, Mark" (2010-03-10). "LI's Gian Villante seeks a second title". newsday.com. Retrieved 2010-03-15.
- "Strikeforce: Rockhold vs. Jardine". strikeforce.com. 2011-12-08.
- "UFC Reveals List of Strikeforce Fighters Making Jump to Octagon". sherdog.com. January 16, 2013.
- "Ovince St. Preux meets Gian Villante in battle of Strikeforce vets at UFC 159". mmajunkie.com. February 8, 2013.
- "Ovince St. Preux pokes Gian Villante's eye, awarded win". mmajunkie.com. April 27, 2013.
- Staff. "Gian Villante replaces Robert Drysdale, meets Cody Donovan at UFC 167". MMAjunkie.com. Retrieved 2013-10-29.
- MARK LA MONICA. "Gian Villante added to UFC 167 against Cody Donovan". newsday.com. Retrieved 2013-10-29.
- Mookie Alexander. "Fabio Maldonado says he's fighting Gian Villante at March UFC event in Brazil". bloodyelbow.com. Retrieved 2014-01-12.
- Jason Floyd (2014-04-24). "UFC Fight Night 43 in New Zealand adds Perosh-Villante". themmareport.com. Retrieved 2014-04-24.
- Staff (2014-05-13). "Anthony Perosh out at UFC Fight Night 43, Gian Villante now meets Sean O'Connell". mmajunkie.com. Retrieved 2014-05-13.