Things started off one way for Gian Villante at UFC Fight Night 38 in Natal, Brazil on Sunday, but they ended very differently as Fabio Maldonado was able to take a unanimous decision win in what ended up being a beating for the training partner of UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman.
Both fighters opened orthodox and as Maldonado forced the clinch, Villante took the Brazilian down with authority from a body lock pick-up. Maldonado was able to hip bump and scramble to turtle, but the American covered his hips, throwing heavy knee strikes to the back of Maldonado's thighs. Maldonado was able to wall walk up the fence, but Villante, keeping position, yanked Villante right back down to the mat. From there, Villante spent most of the round on top in Maldonado's half guard, but couldn't do much with it in terms of scoring damage.
In the second round, Villanet seemingly rocked Maldonado temporarily, but scored with two excellent jabs in response as the two circled. Villante shot for a double, which didn't work, but as Maldonado escaped, Villante lept in again to establish waist control and dragged the Brazilian down to the mat. Maldonado was able to stand, but only after eating several knees, one of which opened a monstrous cut. Still, as they stood, it was Maldonado who pressed the action, landing body shots and right hooks. Towards the end of the round, Maldonado began to pour it on, landing hard combinations at will on a clearly exhausted Villante.
“It was a war standing up, but that was after he gave me a hard time on the ground. His wrestling is very good, so I knew I had to impose my striking game and avoid the fence. I knew that, striking, he’d get tired first," Maldonado said.
Maldonado picked up where he left off, landing strikes at boxing range. Villante attempted a double leg in the first minute, but could get nowhere with it. As the seconds passed, Maldonado seemingly punched the American at will, landing liver punches, jabs and almost every other kind of punch. Villante went for a double from a failed trip, but Maldonado threatened with a guilltone, forcing the American backwards. From there it was all Maldonado as Villante could barely stand, eventually collapsing on a tepid takedown attempt as the final bell sounded.
All three judges scored it for Maldonado, giving him scores of 29-27, 29-28, 29-28. Maldonado jumps to 21-6 while Villante slides to 11-5.
“There were a couple of times when I knew I hit him, and he took a weird step, like he wobbled a little bit, but then he kept coming. I think I surprised him the same way, he hit me with some good ones and I kept going. I think it was a good fight," Villante said.