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Before he submitted Gian Villante with an arm-triangle from his back, Maurice Greene was reeling in their heavyweight bout at UFC on ESPN 12.
Villante dropped “The Crochet Boss” with a short left hook in Round 3 and pounced with a barrage of punches and elbows in pursuit of the finish. When that stoppage didn’t arrive, Villante faded, and Greene was able to pull off the unlikely submission victory.
“He threw a bunch of elbows, he may have fatigued a little bit and he was resting,” Greene said at Saturday’s post-fight press conference “… But I squeezed and to my surprise, he tapped. I think that has to do with a tight squeeze and fatigue. Maybe if he had more air at that time he could’ve lasted a little longer, and he fought it quite a bit.”
After 15 UFC appearances at 205 pounds, Villante was making his first heavyweight foray in the Las Vegas-based promotion. Much was made of Villante’s portly physique heading into the bout, but Greene believes the former Hofstra football player has found a home in the big man’s division.
“I know a lot of people said Gian Villante was fat. He looked out of shape…That man belongs in this heavyweight division,” Greene said. “That’s where he should’ve been this whole time. Let that man come back in shape, he’s gonna be hell on wheels to deal with.”
Greene was very emotional in the immediate aftermath of his victory, as he believed a third consecutive defeat could have cost him his job. Instead, he hopes to now settle in at Jackson-Wink MMA in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and make a serious run in the UFC’s heavyweight division.
“I try my best to put this face on and say there’s no pressure. But yeah, that s—t was thick. Very thick,” he said. “… Getting dropped, I know I was in a tough place. I was getting hit. I don’t really remember a lot of it. Being able to finish from the bottom with my jiu-jitsu is so sweet to me. There’s not a lot of heavyweights that do jiu-jitsu and I’m one of them. I never went to college, so whenever I get my black belt that’s my college degree.
“To come in here at the highest level, to fight a veteran like Gian Villante — I don’t care if he was a light heavyweight, that man fought like a heavyweight. He’s big like a heavyweight. I had a bunch of personal things going on leading up to this. I had a gym switch. I didn’t mean to switch gyms really, but when I got out there, Greg Jackson and Mike Winkeljohn took me under their wing and penciled me in everyday for time with each one of them on top of all the heavyweights they got out there. Probably six-plus [heavyweights], which is unheard of. They’re building a stable of stallions and I want to be part of that.”