Villante attended MacArthur High School (Levittown, New York) and was part of the Class of 2003. During his junior year, he placed third in the New York State Wrestling Championships. He followed this up his senior year by winning the New York State Championship at the 215 pound weight class. Villante was equally accomplished in football, in which he received the 2002 Thorpe Award winner as the top football player in Nassau County, also the Bill Piner Award as the top linebacker in Nassau County and was named to the High School Heisman All-Star team. Villante drew interest from major Division I schools, such as Penn State and Michigan State. Villante chose to stay home and committed to Hofstra University. Villante attended Hofstra University from 2003-2007 where he continued his highly successful football and wrestling careers. Villante started his first game against Marshall University, as a true freshman, at middle linebacker. Gian kept his starting role the rest of his freshman year. The following season Villante was named a 2004 1st Team Defensive I-AA All-American by The Sports Network. He was regarded as a potential NFL linebacker prospect. The New York Giants, New York Jets, Indianapolis Colts, and Philadelphia Eagles all expressed interest in Villante. Villante wrestled for Hofstra where he became close with NCAA All-American wrestler and future UFC Middleweight Champion Chris Weidman.
Villante made his MMA debut quickly after making the decision to begin MMA training. He defeated MMA veteran Randy Durant by quickly drawing a TKO due to a nasty cut. Villante then flew through his next few opponents, only once having it last through the first round. He quickly was the top Heavyweight contender in Ring of Combat. He got his shot and after defeating Strikeforce veteran Mike Cook for the vacant Ring of Combat Heavyweight title, Villante was touted as a legit MMA prospect.
Villante made his Light Heavyweight debut at Ring of Combat XXIX with aspirations on becoming a champion in two weight classes. However Villante lost by TKO after breaking his elbow and moved back up to heavyweight. After an extended recovery from his wrist injury, Villante had a highlight reel KO win over Joseph Reyes.
On January 11, 2011, it was announced that Villante had signed a multi-fight deal with Strikeforce. Villante was quickly thrown into a Heavyweight Grand Prix Reserve bout on short notice. His opponent would be Chad Griggs in one of three heavyweight grand prix reserve bouts at Strikeforce: Fedor vs. Silva. In which many people called the fight, the "Fight of the Night." He lost the fight via TKO in the first round on a referee stopage.
Villante made the decision to drop back down to light heavyweight. In his next bout, Villante would take on undefeated prospect Lorenz Larkin on June 24, 2011 at Strikeforce Challengers: Fodor vs. Terry. After repeatedly taking down Larkin and easily taking the first round, Villante appeared to be suffering from his dramatic weight cutting. Villante began to tire and eventually Larkin went on to win a unanimous decision. Questions began to swirl as to whether or not Villante could effectively complete a Three Round Fight. He was also criticized for not sticking to a wrestling game plan.
In his next fight, Villante took on Keith Berry in the Strikeforce Challengers: Gurgel vs. Duarte preliminary card. Despite the crowd's jeers, and multiple stand ups, Gian continually took down Berry and went on to win the fight unanimously on the judges scorecards.
Villante's next fight was against Trevor Smith on the preliminary card of Strikeforce: Rockhold vs. Jardine on January 7, 2012. Gian quickly attacked Smith catching a leg strike four seconds in. After landing several clean punches and knees on the ground, both stood up. The two trade strikes for about thirty seconds, when Villante once again caught a Smith kick and took him down. Villante held onto the leg and began landing numerous unanswered right hands, prompting referee Kim Winslow to stop the fight at 1:05 of the first round.
Gian continued his win streak with a unanimous decision victory over Derrick Mehmen. This was part of the Strikeforce: Barnett vs. Cormier undercard seen on Showtime Extreme. Gian was credited by announcer Frank Shamrock for his improved standup and his endurance during the fight. Mehmen had visible bruising on his thighs from the multiple leg kicks landed by Villante.
Gian was scheduled to fight undefeated Guto Inocente on the Strikeforce: Melendez vs. Healy main card. The entire card was canceled due to headliner Gilbert Melendez suffering an injury. Without the main event, Showtime canceled the entire event. Gian was featured in Newsday shortly after the announcement. The article featured Gian explaining how he was extremely upset about the cancellation, but focused more on how Gian was finally able to eat, after his grueling ordeal to make weight.
In January 2013, the Strikeforce organization was closed by its parent company Zuffa. A list of fighters scheduled to be brought over to the Ultimate Fighting Championship was released in mid-January and Villante was one of the fighters listed.
For his UFC debut, Villante faced fellow promotional newcomer Ovince St. Preux on April 27, 2013 at UFC 159. The fight ended in unusual fashion as St. Preux accidentally poked Villante in the right eye with his thumb and referee Kevin Mulhall immediately called an end to the fight after Villante indicated that he could not see. As a result of the injury, the fight went to the judges' scorecards and St. Preux won a majority technical decision (30–28, 30–29, 29–29).
Villante took a short notice bout, replacing Robert Drysdale against Cody Donovan on November 16, 2014 at UFC 167. He won the fight via TKO in the second round, earning his first official UFC victory.
For his third fight with the promotion, Villante faced Fábio Maldonado on March 23, 2014 at UFC Fight Night 38. He lost the fight via unanimous decision.
Villante was expected to face Anthony Perosh on June 28, 2014 at UFC Fight Night 43. However, Perosh was forced out of the bout with an injury and was replaced by Sean O'Connell. He won the fight via split decision (29–28, 28–29, 29–28). Their performance earned both partipants Fight of the Night honors.
Villante was expected to face Corey Anderson on December 6, 2014 at UFC 181. However, Villante pulled out of the fight citing an injury. Anderson remained on the card against Justin Jones.
The bout with Anderson eventually took place on April 18, 2015 at UFC on Fox 15. Villante won the fight via TKO in the third round. The fight also earned him his second Fight of the Night bonus award.
Villante faced Tom Lawlor on July 25, 2015 at UFC on Fox 16. Despite controlling the first round with strikes, Villante lost the bout via knockout early in the second round.
Villante faced Anthony Perosh on November 15, 2015 at UFC 193. Villante won the fight via knockout in the first round.
Villante next faced Ilir Latifi on March 5, 2016 at UFC 196. He lost the fight by unanimous decision.
Villante was briefly linked to a bout with Marcos Rogério de Lima on November 12, 2016 at UFC 205. However, Villante pulled out of the fight on September 21 citing a minor injury and the bout was scrapped. In turn, Villante is expected to face Patrick Cummins the following month on December 9, 2016 at UFC Fight Night 102. Subsequently, Cummins pulled out of the fight on December 2 citing a staph infection. He was replaced by promotional newcomer Saparbek Safarov. Villante won the fight via TKO in the second round. Both participants were awarded Fight of the Night for their performance.
Villante faced Maurício Rua on March 11, 2017 at UFC Fight Night 106. He lost the fight via TKO in the third round.
A rescheduled bout with Patrick Cummins eventually took place on July 22, 2017 at UFC on Fox 25. Villante lost the back-and-forth fight via split decision.Ultimate Fighting Championship
Fight of the Night (Three times)
Ring of Combat
Ring of Combat Heavyweight Championship (One time)
2015 April Fight of the Month vs. Corey Anderson
High school football
2001 All-Section VIII Linebacker
2001 All-Long Island Linebacker (Sect VIII&XI)
2002 All-Section VIII Linebacker
2002 All-Long Island Linebacker (Sect VIII&XI)
2002 Piner Award (Best Linebacker - Section VIII - Nassau County)
2002 Thorpe Award (Best Football Player - Section VIII - Nassau County)
2002 1st Team All-New York State
2002 1st All-Metro Team (Lower NY-Upper NJ)
2004 2nd Team Defensive All-Atlantic 10
2004 1st Team Defensive I-AA All-American
2006 1st Team Defensive All-Atlantic 10
2007 1st Team Defensive All-Colonial Conference
High school wrestling
2002 Section VIII Nassau County Champion (215 lbs)
2002 New York State 3rd Place (215 lbs)
2003 Section VIII Nassau County Champion (215 lbs)
2003 New York State Champion (215 lbs)