When Gian Villante heard late Sunday night/early Monday morning that the Strikeforce card scheduled for Sept. 29 was canceled -- and with it his co-headline bout against Guto Innocente -- the Long Island light-heavyweight’s first thoughts weren’t about whether he’d get paid or when the bout might be rescheduled.
Instead, they were for his stomach.
Villante was well into his weight cut when the news broke. So, as he told MMAFighting.com’s Ariel Helwani on Monday’s edition of The MMA Hour, before he did anything else, he went on an epic late-night junk food binge.
"I’m at the point where I’m starting to cut a lot of weight," Villante said. "I come down from like 240 to 205, so it stinks to lose all that weight and then I’m finally down low 220s [when the news broke]. I’m trying to stay low, it’s hopefully just a month away until I fight. But, I went and, I can’t really explain how much I ate last night, it was bad, my stomach is not feeling too good."
Villante then gave a detailed breakdown of the damage.
"If I’m going to be honest, the first thing I think is, alright, I’ll just go to Taco Bell, but I don’t want to go crazy," Villante said. "So I went with a cheesy gordita crunch with chicken, and they have this new thing, a Doritos taco shell, that just looked amazing. That was calling my name, I went for that one. I had about three of those. I went home and there was this veal parm hero that was in the fridge for about a week now that my brother left in the refrigerator. It’s been looking at me for a week and it’s just torture, so, I’m like you know what, I’m eating this thing. I ate half a veal parm hero that was a week old and didn’t even taste good, and then I had about a half a gallon of ice cream, chocolate chip cookie dough."
With that out of the way, Villante was left with both a stomach ache and the reality that the fight for which he had been training for weeks had fallen by the wayside after headliner Gilbert Melendez pulled out with an injury, and Showtime declined to televise the event, causing Strikeforce to pull the plug.
And while Jon Jones took extraordinary heat last month from his UFC 151 cardmates over that event's cancellation, Vilante wasn’t about to blame Melendez for Strikeforce's chain of events, citing his respect for the lightweight champion’s accomplishments.
"I understand Gilbert Melendez pretty much was this card," he said. "He’s a great fighter and a lot people want to see him fight. I understand why it happened. Its upsetting that it happened, it’s going to affect me and other guys. I guess these things happen now. I guess this is becoming the norm, it’s never happened before and now it’s happened two times in one month.
"I think its hard," he continued. "Me and Guto were the co-main event. I’m not going to say I deserve main event status or anything like that. I have respect for Gilbert Melendez, he earned it through a lot of fights and being the champ that he is. I have a lot of respect for him and I understand what it takes to carry a card. He’s the guy. I don’t know if I’m at that point in my career yet where millions of people are going to tune in just to watch me fight. I’m just being realistic. I’m not trying to put myself down or anything like that, but, I don’t have what Gilbert Melendez has at this point in his career. I’m going to work toward that, hopefully get the belt by the end of the year. But that’s not the case yet and I can understand why they did it.
As of Monday afternoon, Villante (12-3), who was looking for his fourth straight victory in the planned Innocente fight, had yet to hear whether he’d be paid show money for the card.
"I don’t know. It would be great if they did," Villante said. "I hope so. Anything would be great, just because I haven’t fought since May, I have my trainers to pay, my training partners, my doctors who help me with injuries and stuff like that. I was hoping I could take care of it now, but, I guess I have to wait. I don’t know, it’s something I'm confused about. If they can help me that would be great, but I stand behind them and I appreciate them just giving me the opportunity."
Villante sees a common-sense solution to the situation: Re-book his bout on the Nov. 3 Strikeforce card in Oklahoma City, which as of now has Daniel Cormier vs. a TBD opponent, Sara McMann vs. Liz Carmouche, and not a whole lot else going on.
"I’m hoping that’s the plan," he said. "I can’t see them doing it any other way. Like I said, I was the co-main event, so hopefully I get a little more preference over the other guys. They’ve only got three fights booked, so throwing this on [with] the other eight fights that will be on the card, I don’t think hurts them in any way. So, I’m hoping that’s what happens. But until that becomes official, that’s why, I was a little relaxed, just because I’m really hoping. They have a card in 40 days ... 40 more days to get healthy and get in better shape and game plan better isn’t going to hurt me. I don’t have a family to support or anything like that. It’s going to hurt me financially, yeah, but, I’m going fight to fight right now. As long as I can get in there in 40 days, everything will be OK. If that changes, my attitude might change a little bit."