In a match featuring Brazilian boxer Fabio Maldonado and American fighter Gian Villante, it might seem as if Villante has more career upside. Maldonado has been established as a fighter who loves to stand and bang but takes far too much punishment for his own good. He’s a great example of how being a professional boxer only means so much, even a professional boxer with a 22-0 record. Maldonado lands a lot of strikes and has an affinity for body shots, but doesn’t have a lot of power and his defense is to take strikes with his face.
It might seem as if Villante should be able to win against this kind of opponent. However, Villante absorbs strikes at almost the same rate as Maldonado. In about 51 minutes of UFC and Strikeforce action, Villante has absorbed 210 significant strikes for an average of 4.13 per minute. Maldonado has absorbed 4.34 significant strikes per minute, but has landed 5.72 for a margin of +1.38. Villante has only landed 3.48 significant strikes per minute for a margin of -0.65.
Villante certainly hits harder than Maldonado, but Maldonado has developed a reputation for having a granite chin. Certainly Maldonado took everything Glover Teixeira threw at him, and still it took a doctor to save him from going back out for the third round of that fight. Meanwhile Villante was knocked down twice and finished in the first round by a brawler in Chad Griggs.
Of course, Maldonado’s numbers need to be put into perspective. Besides being obliterated for ten minutes by Teixeira, Maldonado’s fights have been against the bottom of the UFC light-heavyweight division. Maldonado has wins against Joey Beltran, Roger Hollett, and James McSweeney and losses to Teixeira, Igor Pokrajac, and Kyle Kingsbury. Then again, Villante hasn’t faced stellar competition either.
This fight has all the makings of another high-volume brawl, with Maldonado landing with greater volume and Villante landing with greater power. There are two factors that cause me to favor Maldonado here. One is that I believe his more economical punches should allow him to keep up his pace for three rounds, although this may turn out not to be the case if Villante hits him hard enough times.
The other is that, of course, Maldonado will have the home-cage advantage in Brazil.
The best way for Villante to win this fight is probably to mix in takedowns and look to prevent the fight from becoming a sloppy brawl. However, Villante’s three takedowns landed in 51 minutes suggest that his preference is to stand and strike as well.
Pick: Fabio Maldonado by decision
DEGENERATE GAMBLER’S CORNER
The fight is currently -120 both ways. Maldonado started out as the underdog; if he makes it back to underdog status I’ll put a small bet on him, as I believe the fight is set up for him to win a contentious decision.