UFC Fight Night 38 Play: Gian Villante -135) vs Fabio Maldonado +125)

Gian VillanteUFC Fight Night 38 Date: March 23, 2014 Arena: Ginasio Nelio Dias City: Natal, Brazil Light heavyweight bout: Fabio Maldonado (+125) vs Gian Villante (-135) Fight Breakdown: The main card for UFC Fight Night 38 will be feauting a light heavyweight bout between fan favorite Brazilian Fabio Maldonado and New York native Gian Villante. Maldonado is a small underdog in this match-up at +125 ($100 to win $125), with Villante being a small favorite at -135 ($135 to win $100) at Several Bookmakerss. Fabio Maldonado (20-6 MMA, 3-3 UFC) is set to make his seventh appearance inside the Octagon, coming off a controversial split decision victory over “The Mexicutioner” Joey Beltran in his native Brazil at UFC Fight Night 29 nearly six months ago. The win follows a unanimous decision victory over the Canadian Roger Hollett, which also came in Brazil. Maldonado will look to continue his win streak as he steps inside the Octagon against Long Island’s Gian Villante. Early on in his professional mixed martial arts career, Maldonado also competed professionally as a boxer in his native Brazil, compiling a record of 22 wins and no defeats, with 21 victories coming by way of knockout. That said, I am not personally very impressed with his boxing. Everybody talks about his body shots, and sure, he’s somewhat effective with them. But who has he stopped with them? Who has he really put in trouble with them? I’m not talking regional circuit, I’m talking UFC. I just don’t think his boxing is nearly as good as it’s talked up to be. However, he has scored 12 knockouts in 20 professional mixed martial arts victories. The Brazilian prefers to stand and trade, because he loves to box and has one of the best chins in the sport. That aside, he does hold his own on the ground, as he has a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. He is no slouch and his submission defense is solid. The durable veteran does not display much of an offensive submission game and while there isn’t much tape of it, he does own two victories by submission. Maldonado has good cardio and it has benefited him throughout his career, as he has remained active in the third frame of all of his bouts. I doubt it will be any different this time, as I expect the Brazilian to be prepared for a three round war. Gian Villante (11-4 MMA, 1-1 UFC) will be traveling to Brazil to take on a Brazilian in only his third appearance inside the Octagon. With the crowd against him, he will be looking to pick up his second win to follow his impressive second round TKO of Cody Donovan, which came at UFC 167 four months ago. The Long Island native is one of the main training partners of current UFC middleweight chamption Chris Weidman. He is a solid wrestler, having a New York State Championship under his belt. He works pretty good takedowns and is effective from top position. That said, much like Maldonado, Villante prefers to stand and trade. Having a good chin, he is confident in his ability to take a shot in order to dish one out. The 28 year old is a talented striker who uses good technique. He is athletic and powerful. He works nice, hard leg kicks and has excellent uppercuts. Villante likes to hold his opponents heads with his left hand and come through with an uppercut using his right. His striking is good and improving, but his movement is not very good. I believe he is working on that, too, but it is not as easy to improve speed and agility. Speaking of improvement, the former college football player does not have good conditioning, and certainly needs to be working on that aspect of his game. He will undoubtedly be at a cardio disadvantage heading into this bout against the Brazilian, though I expect him to be able to go a full 15 minutes of action, should the fight go the distance. Gabe’s Prediction: Villante is younger, more powerful, and the better athlete. I think he will get the better of Maldonado on the feet for the better part of 15 minute affair, ultimately taking home a decision victory on the judges’ scorecards in Brazil. Gabe’s Call: Gian Villante via Split Decision (28-29, 29-28, 29-28) Gabe’s Recommended Play: Gian Villante (-135) 2.7u to win 2u

Written by Gabe Killian

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