UFC on ESPN 12: Maurice Greene Not Shocked to See Villante Move Up — Because Brother Played College Football With Him

When Maurice Greene got the call to face Gian Villante at UFC on ESPN 12, he wasn’t particularly surprised. While UFC fans might see Villante as a 205’er, it’s not his first trip to heavyweight. He started out there, prior to the UFC, and even appeared in a reserve bout in the Strikeforce heavyweight grand prix.

Greene knows his upcoming opponent’s size from somewhere else, however.

“Gian Villante played football with my brother in college at Hofstra,” Greene revealed, speaking to Cageside Press at the UFC on ESPN 12 media day. “So he was probably a much bigger individual prior to, he can perform at a bigger size. Because he has for probably a lot of his career at linebacker. It doesn’t matter, if it’s a light heavyweight coming up, obviously he feels like he can be here and he can make a difference. So that’s neither here nor there.”

And so Greene had no qualms about taking the fight. Not that he would have regardless. “I just don’t like to say no, let’s put it that way.”

To Greene, fighting is just a job. He needs no beef to fight, and even suggested that Villante seems like a “cool dude.”

“I saw him yesterday. Happy, all smiles like I am. Seems like he feels about Fight Week like I do— because this is just our job, you know?” explained Greene. “We go in there and smash each other’s face and it’s just our job. And with a smile afterwards.”

Speaking of Fight Week, this one has been a little different for Greene. More confined, lots of restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic. It’s not a ton of fun, it seems. But he’s found a silver lining. “You know me I’m, I’m a wild boy at heart. So this has been kind of kind of good. I stay in my room, COVID-free, that’s the way to be baby. It’s easy not to go out because I know what the endgame is.”

Which, he explained, is “getting my hand raised, and it’s putting my family in a better place and it’s moving out to Albuquerque. So it’s an easy choice for me to follow the rules, to stay here and be able to fight. Because if that COVID test comes back positive when I get tested again I’m not fighting. So it’s very simple.”

The move to New Mexico is to link up with a new team, Greene revealed. “I’ve switched camps, so instead of being at Factory X I’m at Jackson-Wink, and I’m actually moving out to Albuquerque to be there full time.”

But aside from that, despite a two-fight skid, he’s not trying to reinvent the wheel. Greene understands how little experience he had prior to reaching the big show. He did so as a non-athlete, after getting in shape and dropping 100lbs. And made it to the octagon after just seven pro fights. “It’s just staying the course. I’m learning on the biggest stage to learn on. You all have a lot of experience, I didn’t grow up with combat sports experience.”

Watch the full UFC on ESPN 12 media day scrum with Maurice Greene above!