UFC 268 continues to get even deeper, with November’s New York card adding a fun heavyweight bout.
UFC 268 is considered by many as the best UFC card of the year, with two championship fights already on tap with Kamaru Usman defending against Colby Covington, and another rematch as Rose Namajunas defends against Weili Zhang. The undercard also features a slew of fan-friendly fights, the most important of which may be by Michael Chandler taking on Justin Gaethje.
Since MMA was legalized in the state in 2016, the UFC has traditionally made their New York cards some of the biggest of their calendar schedule and this year is no different. With plenty of fan-friendly fights already announced, the event continues to grow, and will include another fighter from the area New York area.
First reported by MMA DNA, heavyweights Gian Villante and Chris Barnett are now set to throw down at Madison Square Garden. Cageside Press subsequently confirmed the booking with multiple sources familiar with the situation.
For Villante (17-3), the fight is his third since moving up to 265 in June 2020. Following that step up in weight, the Long Island native has had back-to-back losses against Maurice Green and Jake Collier. Prior to the move up, Villante was a light heavyweight mainstay, having been in the promotion since 2013 and having gotten wins over the likes of Corey Anderson, Ed Herman, and Sean O’Connell.
For Barnett (21-7), the bout against Villante is his second fight in the promotion. “Huggy Bear” made his debut in May against UFC veteran Ben Rothwell, and despite coming up short after losing in the second round via submission, Barnett made a fan out of many viewers for his fun fighting style after throwing many spinning techniques, which is rare for a man of his size.
Prior to being signed to the UFC earlier this year, Barnett was a regional MMA fan-favorite, having fought everywhere from UAE Warriors to RIZIN, to ROAD FC where Barnett would have his most success. He was recently hit with a suspension for marijuana use by the NSAC, grandfathered in as the commission recently changed their drug testing rules. However, by the time UFC 268 arrives, Barnett’s suspension will already be over.