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Gian Villante moves up to heavyweight to face Ben Rothwell at UFC 249

In his 16th UFC fight, Gian Villante is stepping into the Octagon as a heavyweight for the first time.

The longtime 205er is scheduled to fight veteran Ben Rothwell (37-12) at UFC 249 on April 18 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, according to a report from Newsday.

Villante (17-11) last competed at heavyweight during his time with the Strikeforce promotion back in 2011. In his last outing in the division, he lost by first-round TKO to Chad Griggs and subsequently returned to light heavyweight where he has competed since. The 34-year-old New Yorker has alternated wins and losses in his last five appearances, most recently losing by first-round TKO to Michal Oleksiejczuk in February 2019.

For “Big Ben,” this will be his 14th heavyweight bout in the UFC, where he is 7-6 so far. Rothwell, 38, snapped a three-fight losing skid in December with a second-round TKO of Stefan Struve.

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