Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Light Heavyweight veterans Gian Villante and Francimar Barroso will battle this Saturday (Jan. 20, 2018) at UFC 220 inside TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts.
Oh man, this is probably going to be a terrible fight. Immediately, I question why UFC would put this on the main card of a pay-per-view (PPV), meaning that the devoted among us are going to actually pay for what is nearly guaranteed to be a miserable bout, particularly if it exits the first round. Despite the low level of anticipation, it’s my job to provide some background. Both fighters have been in UFC since 2013, but neither managed to string together more than two consecutive victories. To their credit, both fighters are a victory above .500 in UFC, although they also enter this bout on the heels of defeat.
Let’s take a closer look at the keys to victory for both men:
Key Wins: Corey Anderson (UFC on FOX 15), Anthony Perosh (UFC 193), Sean O’Connell (UFC Fight Night 43)
Key Losses: Mauricio Rua (UFC Fight Night 106), Patrick Cummins (UFC on FOX 25), Tom Lawlor (UFC on FOX 16), Ilir Latifi (UFC 196), Ovince St. Preux (UFC 159)
Keys to Victory: Villante has to be among the most frustrating fighters to watch, because he does have plenty of talent even if half his bouts end in his coach screaming at him between rounds. Villante hits hard and is tougher to take down than a majority of the division, but he’s quite inconsistent. Sometimes, Villante boxes fairly well and delivers sharp low kicks, but in other bouts he just plods along and loads up on single shots.
Poor conditioning is often the culprit behind his losses.
Luckily, his opponent tends to push an extremely slow pace as well. Both men have a habit of gassing, but neither man is going to throw or wrestle at all that high of a rate. With any luck, that means both 205-pound athletes will be able to keep it together for the full 15 minutes.
On paper, Villante has all the tools to win this fight. He’s the more refined boxer, and Barroso driving double leg probably isn’t enough to drag Villante to the mat. To win this bout, Villante just has to fight smart and focus on picking up points. When he jabs and throws low kicks, Villante can actually look quite composed in there. If doesn’t try to force a knockout, picking Barroso apart on the feet is an achievable goal.
Record: 19-6 (1)
Key Wins: Ryan Jimmo (UFC Fight Night 67), Elvis Mutapcic (UFC Fight Night 81), Ednaldo Oliveira (UFC 163), Darren Stewart (UFC Fight Night 107)
Key Losses: Nikita Krylov (UFC Fight Night 87), Aleksander Rakic (UFC Fight Night 115), Hans Stringer (UFC Fight Night 38)
Keys to Victory: Barroso is never one to light the world on fire, but unlike Villante, the Brazilian does seem to make the most of his skill set. He’s a low-pace kickboxer who mostly looks to time his overhand, and Barroso commonly catches opponents off-guard with a strong double leg and top control.
His fights are rarely pretty, but Barroso is definitely crafty.
Interestingly, Barroso may actually have a conditioning advantage as well. Each of his UFC victories came via decision, whereas Villante has fared poorly (1-4) in bouts that go the distance. With that in mind, Barroso may want to make this ugly immediately. If he drives Villante into the fence, he probably won’t land a takedown, but he can drain both of their gas tanks quickly with that clinch work. If both men are fatigued, Villante’s power advantage is no longer relevant, plus his entire game tends to fall apart once gassed.
In that situation, Barroso knows how to win low output fights. He does well to wait, build up some energy, and score with a heavy, judge-pleasing overhand or kick.
Bottom Line: Pray for the early knockout.
Both men are entering this match up off a loss — or two in Villante’s case — and are not known for consistently exciting fights. Normally, that situation would create some level of risk for the loser, but Light Heavyweight is barren. Neither fighter is at great risk of being released — the division needs competent fighters to hopefully help grow its prospects.
For the winner, a victory guarantees another handful of fights in the division. Neither man is going to contend any time soon, but Villante was ranked in the Top 15 fairly recently. A win doesn’t get either man quite that far, but it probably earns the victor a ranked opponent next time out.
At UFC 220, Gian Villante and Francimar Barroso will battle. Which man will have his hand raised?