BROOKLYN, N.Y. Matchmaking isa tricky endeavor, but every now and then it comes together just right for all parties involved.That certainly seems to be the case with UFC Fight Night 106’s light heavyweight matchup between former champion Mauricio Rua and Gian Villante (16-7 MMA, 5-4 UFC). After “Shogun” (24-10 MMA, 8-8 UFC)celebrated the chance to face an opponent with similarly aggressive tendencies, it was Villante’s turn to explain the reasons he’s also excited for the showdown.
“First of all, he’s a legend,” Villante said of Rua. “Second of all, his style. Just his style, I think makes a perfect fight for me. They did a smart one, the UFC, making us fight each other. Because I just think both of us love war, love getting punched in the face and punching other people in the face.
“I know I’m going to go in there and probably come home with a couple of black eyes, but I don’t mind that. I think that’s the great part about it, the beauty of it. It’s going to be a fun, fun fight.”
UFC Fight Night 106 takes place March 11 at Centro de Formacao Olimpica do Nordeste in Fortaleza, Ceara, Brazil. The main card airs on FS1 following early prelims on UFC Fight Pass, though the bout order hasnt been finalized.Other than their brawling ways, the fighters share a common struggle: octagon consistency. While they’re both coming off wins, neither has been able to put together streaks longer than two fights something that Rua, an honorable mention in the USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkielight-heavyweight rankings, can finally change should he beat Villante.
When it comes to staying active, however, Villante has the upper hand. Known to have the occasional injury layoff, Rua’s last cage outing his only one in 2016 was over eight months ago whereas Villante just beat Saparbek Safarov inDecember.
In any case, it’s not like numbersplay that big of a factor in Villante’s approach to the scrap.
“I think ‘Shogun’ is always going to be ‘Shogun,'” Villante said. “He hasn’t fought in a while, but I know no matter what, he is not going to go in there if he isn’t ready to put on a show and put on a war.“He’s ready to go to war like a Dan Henderson fight every time he goes in there. So I’ve got to make sure I give him the other half of that, give him that Dan Henderson performance and put on a show.”
Judging by the recurrent use of the word “legend,” it’s pretty clear Villante isanadmirerof Rua, which might bewhy he seems to approach their upcoming scrap less like a day in the office and more like a really peculiar type of hangout.
“He’s a guy I’ve looked up to for a long time, since I started fighting,” Villante said. “He’s not that much older than me (Rua is 35, while Villante is 31), surprisingly, but I’ve watched him fight since I can remember. I just think ‘Shogun’ is a legend. Name-wise, (he’s) probably the biggest name in the division, I think. Besides maybe (ex-champ Jon) Jones.
“It’s awesome. And I just think of it as more of a fun thing to go in there and be able to party with the guy.”
To hear more from a very excited Villante, check out the video above.And for more onUFC Fight Night 106, check out theUFC Rumorssection of the site.