Ahead of this match, most — including myself — questioned why in the world this bout was included on the main card. Both Light Heavyweights had a bad reputation for slow, uninteresting fights. Worse still, they were unranked and coming off losses, making it a really interesting call to highlight this match up instead of a high-level Flyweight match up (Ortiz vs. Pantoja) or a surefire brawl (Homasi vs. Alhassan).
Sadly, the fight lived down to expectations.
Villante opened the bout with slow, methodical pressure. After backing Barroso into the fence, Villante looked to fire his right hand. Some of them landed reasonably clean, but Barroso was able to avoid getting blasted. Over time, Barroso began to pick it up by returning with some counters and hard low kicks. He was still too willing to back up, but he at least did a better job of avoiding the fence.
All in all, it was a close round, but Villante’s pressure and right hand likely earned him the scorecard.
Villante backed his foe into the fence once more to start the second, and this time the two exchanged heavy punches. Afterward, the two returned to a prety slow rate of exchanges, as Villante hunted for his right hand and Barroso looked to return with short counter punches.
Overall, the low kicks were the most effective weapon of each man. Once again, it was an extremely close round, as the Brazilian was slightly more efficient but backed away the entire time.
With five minutes remaining, the fight was still pretty up in the air.
Immediately, both men took their respective places along the fence to being the third. The slow rate of exchange grew even more tedious, as neither man was all that interested in picking up the pace. Villante raised up his hands to protest Barroso’s constant lateral movement, but he did little to cut off the fence or throw in combination. That’s no defense of Barroso though, who relied on the rare tricky setup to land a strike or two but never got out of first gear.
The fight ended with both men breathing heavily, the crowd booing, and Villante’s hand being raised.
Villante won this split decision by pushing forward the entire fight. Neither man did anything all that impressive, but Villante was able to maintain his pace and move forward. In a close fight, that’s often enough.
It’s real hard for me to give an good analysis on this one. Villante lumbered forward and threw heavy right hands. Once in a while, he whacked his foe with a low kick. Against a foe who threw very little back, it was enough.
Villante is ready to slowly walk toward Light Heavyweights for years to come.
As for Barroso, he never really did anything. Based on the body shots and low kicks, the strategy was to slow Villante down. That’s great, but if your pace is ridiculously low, you’re never going to fatigue your opponent all that much. Additionally, it’s unclear why Barroso didn’t try to force some takedowns. That’s been a path to success for him in the UFC previously, and it very likely would have gone a long way in causing Villante to gas.
At worst, it still would have got his back off the fence.
Last night, Gian Villante returned to the win column in a slow fight. Who should Villante face next?
For complete UFC 220 “Miocic vs. Ngannou” results and play-by-play, click HERE!