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Gian Villante moves up to heavyweight to face Ben Rothwell at UFC 249

Gian Villante (pictured) makes his UFC heavyweight debut when he takes on Ben Rothwell on April 18 in Brooklyn.
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting file photo

In his 16th UFC fight, Gian Villante is stepping into the Octagon as a heavyweight for the first time.

The longtime 205er is scheduled to fight veteran Ben Rothwell (37-12) at UFC 249 on April 18 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, according to a report from Newsday.

Villante (17-11) last competed at heavyweight during his time with the Strikeforce promotion back in 2011. In his last outing in the division, he lost by first-round TKO to Chad Griggs and subsequently returned to light heavyweight where he has competed since. The 34-year-old New Yorker has alternated wins and losses in his last five appearances, most recently losing by first-round TKO to Michal Oleksiejczuk in February 2019.

For “Big Ben,” this will be his 14th heavyweight bout in the UFC, where he is 7-6 so far. Rothwell, 38, snapped a three-fight losing skid in December with a second-round TKO of Stefan Struve.

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