Art of the split decision: Gian Villante explains 'the worst thing ever'

Villante on split-decision streak: 'Just sick of it' (0:44)

UFC light heavyweight fighter Gian Villante breaks down what it's like to have four consecutive fights go to a split decision. (0:44)

Mixed martial arts tension is rarely a slow build.

Most often, a strike connects or a submission sinks in, and that secures a swift result. The exception: when judges are needed and their opinion is not unanimous.

An announcer reads one of the scores and the chosen winner. That's followed by the winning tally of the other fighter. Then we all finally hear the score and -- after a tormenting pause -- the name of the victor.

For Gian Villante, who faces Michal Oleksiejczuk this weekend in Prague on ESPN+, it's an all-too-familiar feeling.

"It's gross. It's definitely sickening," Villante said. "I remember one time I was fighting this dude, Sean O'Connell, and it went to a split decision. And [announcer Joe Martinez] said 'Gian,' and we weren't sure if he said 'Sean' or 'Gian.' But he said 'Gian,' thank God.

"That was my first-ever split decision. I've had four in a row now, which is pretty terrible."

It's also terribly impressive.

Villante's run of four consecutive split decisions is a UFC record -- appropriately, he split those four decisions: two wins, two losses. His five overall split decisions in the Octagon are one shy of the promotional mark, held by Alex Caceres.

After months of preparation, weeks of cutting weight and minutes of grueling hand-to-hand combat, those seconds of made-for-TV drama are agonizing.

Apparently, they don't get more tolerable with repetition.

"It's the worst thing ever. There's nothing easy about it," Villante said. "It could be four wins in a row; it could be four losses in a row, which kind of stinks.

"At this point, I'm just over it. I'm just sick of it even going to decision, then it's a split decision. I hate the whole feeling of it."

Villante takes accountability for the unenviable, unprecedented streak. Rather than blame shift for tough-to-swallow scoring, the 33-year-old looks to understand the rationale and use that to make results more definitive.

"I could see myself using takedowns a little bit more," Villante said. "I wouldn't want to be a judge. It's tough to judge these things. I do have to score more points with some of the things I do. I'm more of a guy, when I land those shots, they hurt you. And I don't think they score that.

"[The judges] determine a lot. They don't realize, they determine half of our paycheck, too. It's not an easy job for them."

In fairness, the second judging criterion is "effective grappling." And Villante has completed one successful takedown in his last 11 fights. It's not a stat expected from a high school All-American wrestler and New York state champion.

Villante says he doesn't want to completely abandon the style that's seen him score four UFC knockouts and three more decision wins in the Octagon -- all splits.

But he admits a more tactful approach, seasoned with reliance on his base, may alleviate the post-fight agita.

"Maybe go for a takedown or two, which is something I'm allergic to, I feel like," Villante said. "I kind of find it boring sometimes to see these guys laying on each other. ... Maybe I get one, hit the dude a little bit, then stand back up, put some points in my pocket.

"This is a time where maybe I'll go for those takedowns more than I used to, use that a little bit more. I do have it as an advantage over most guys I fight. So why not use it?"