The two stood in front of each other the entire fight. They wasted little time before exchanging in the opening round. Rua landed a right hand that staggered Villante. Villante recovered and wobbled Rua with a combination. Rua briefly knocked Villante down later in the frame.
Throughout the fight, Rua landed his right hand repeatedly. It was his go-to weapon. Every time Villante threw his jab, Rua would answer with a right hand that found its home. Villante was knocked down again late in the second round. Heading into the final frame, Rua appeared to be in control of the fight.
They both came out swinging in the thrird round. Rua wobbled Villante with a right hand. He turned up the heat and staggered Villante a second time. Sensing the end was near, Rua unleashed a flurry of punches to the body and head. Villante crumbled under the pressure and the referee stepped in to stop the fight.
“I take every fight as a dream,” said Rua following his 20th career knockout win. “I’ve had a lot of dreams in my career, and I’m glad to come out here and continue to do it and fulfill another dream.”
“I think Gian’s a very tough guy. We went in there and put on a good striking match,” he added. “I was very happy to fight in Brazil, close to my friends and family, but wherever the UFC wants to the fight I’ll give my best.”
Heading into Saturday’s fight, Rua was ranked sixth in the 205-pound division. He’ll likely move up a spot or two with the knockout win over No. 12 ranked Villante.