Chris Barnett’s first UFC came with a bang.
The UFC heavyweight scored a TKO win over veteran Gian Villante in the preliminary card of Saturday’s UFC 268. Barnett (22-7 MMA, 1-1 UFC) stopped Villante (17-14 MMA, 7-11 UFC) at the 2:23 mark of Round 2.
The heavyweight bout was part of the UFC 268 preliminary card at Madison Square Garden in New York. It streamed on ESPN+ ahead of additional prelims on ESPNews and the main card on pay-per-view.
It was a fairly uneventful performance until the stoppage.
Both Villante and Barnett exchanged shots for the first round, but neither fighter landed anything meaningful. Villante was pushing the action and looking to put combinations together, while Barnett backed up and looked to counter.
Halfway through the second round, Barnett hit Villante with an explosive spinning-wheel kick. The unexpected shot dropped Villante to the canvas. Barnett immediately followed up with ground-and-pound while Villante covered up from turtle position. After a couple of seconds, the referee waved off the fight.
This was Barnett’s first win in 2021. He had made his UFC debut on short notice back in May when he suffered a submission loss to veteran Ben Rothwell.
Meanwhile, this was set to be Villante’s final fight of his career. The 36-year-old told Newsday prior to the fight that he intended to retire.
Villante has been competing professionally since 2009 and he’s been fighting under the UFC banner since 2013. Villante joined the UFC after going 3-2 in Strikeforce. The New Yorker holds notable wins Corey Anderson, Ed Herman, and Sean O’Connell.
Villante reportedly is finishing up his physical education degree and is a substitute teacher at a middle school in New York, where he also coaches the 8th grade football team and soon will become a wrestling coach.
Up-to-the-minute UFC 268 results include:
Chris Barnett def. Gian Villante via TKO (spinning kick) – Round 2, 2:23
Dustin Jacoby def. John Allan via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
Melsik Baghdasaryan def. Bruno Souza via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Ode Osbourne def. CJ Vergara via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)