By Jonathan Solomon
On April 27, a pair of former Strikeforce light heavyweights will make their octagon debuts against one another in Newark, New Jersey when Ovince St. Preux and Gian Villante fight at UFC 159 according to Newsday.
When he returns to the cage, St. Preux will be 30-years-old and looking to begin a new winning streak to kick off his 2013. The University of Tennessee graduate and former Volunteers football player made a name for himself in mixed martial arts in 2010 when he reeled off six consecutive wins. During that streak, three took place in Strikeforce when he defeated Chris Hawk, Antwain Britt and Benji Radach. His streak continued in 2011 with wins over Abongo Humphrey and Joe Cason.
In the biggest fight of OSP’s career, he suffered a decision loss against former champion Gegard Mousasi, but he rebounded last summer with a knockout of T.J. Cook.
His opponent this spring will be 27-year-old Long Island, New York native Villante. The former heavyweight played football and wrestled at Hofstra University. Most recently, he told a story of how in 2006 he sacked then-University of Delaware quarterback Joe Flacco in a game. Of course, Flacco led the Baltimore Ravens to an NFL Super Bowl 47 win earlier this month, and now Villante is preparing for his first fight in the UFC.
Villante began his MMA career in 2009 as a heavyweight, going on to win the Ring of Combat championship one year later. He debuted in Strikeforce in a heavyweight grand prix reserve bout where he lost to Chad Griggs. With that defeat, he permanently dropped to light heavyweight and lost a decision to Lorenz Larkin. However, the summer 0f 2011 brought him his first win in the promotion, a unanimous decision over Keith Berry. Last year, he knocked out Trevor Smith and bested Derrick Mehmen in a decision.
With the addition of many former Strikeforce fighters to the ranks of the UFC, it is imperative to win or at least make an extremely good impression to avoid being cut.
UFC 159 in April will feature a light heavyweight championship in the main event between Jon Jones and Chael Sonnen. Also announced for the main card are the following fights: Phil Davis vs. Vinny Magalhaes, Roy Nelson vs. Cheick Kongo and Michael Bisping vs. Alan Belcher.
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