Long Island heartthrob Gian Villante (11-5) faces the toughest challenge of his young career this weekend in New Zealand when he goes up against fast-rising superstar Sean O'Connell, according to a June 24 post from Bleacher Report. Villante, 28, gets plenty of attention for his model-esque good looks, but he'll be looking to get media members and fight fans talking about his inside-the-cage skills at UFC Fight Night 43.
Attractive, gentlemanly and elegant: That's how the ladies describe the studly MacArthur High School grad. Villante is a true heart-breaker. What matters most though is what he can do when the cage door locks, and his gorgeous looks won't help him when that happens this weekend.
Villante, who looks to get back in the win column after falling short in his recent fight against Fabio Maldonado, opens the UFC Fight Night 43 card with a bout that airs exclusively on UFC Fight Pass. Even though the fight opens UFC Fight Night 43, Villante vs. O'Connell is an absolute must-watch, as both men could be fighting to remain on the UFC roster. Does the Levittown native have what it takes to get the job done? It seems likely.
After capping off his Strikeforce career with a three-fight win streak, Villante was a highly-touted prospect heading into the UFC last year. Things didn't go as planned in his UFC debut, as an eye poke suffered at the hands of Ovince St. Preux marred his vision and essentially ruined the fight. Villante bounced back with a crisp performance against Cody Donovan at UFC 167, but his loss to Maldonado was an eye-opener.
The former Hofstra superstar appeared to gas out after the opening frame of that fight, and Maldonado ultimately got the best of him on the feet. Villante was outclassed in the standup game, but he did prove to have a tough chin. UFC officials might not hold the loss against him because it was later revealed that Villante was suffering from bronchitis during the bout. So essentially, both of Villante's losses in the UFC were questionable. This weekend against O'Connell, he has a chance to prove those fights weren't good indicators of where his UFC career is headed.
As for O'Connell, the 30-year-old is coming off a knockout loss to Ryan Jimmo. It's never a good idea to start out 0-2 in the UFC, as the promotion historically sends guys pink slips with back-to-back losses. O'Connell, a late replacement for Anthony Perosh, may be literally fighting for his job against Villante, so fight fans can expect him to come out hungry for the win.
UFC Fight Night 43, which goes down June 28, airs live from the Vector Arena in New Zealand. The entire card airs exclusively on UFC Fight Pass. Headlining the event will be James Te Huna vs. Nate Marquardt, and Soa Palelei battles Jared Rosholt in the co-main.