Marco Gigante Villela Interview: Mark Hunt is a real fighter

Fight Sport Asia had the privilege of sitting down with Marco Gigante Villela in Sydney’s northern beaches to discuss Mark Hunts upcoming title fight against Fabricio Werdum at UFC 180 and the impending visit of Grandmaster Relson Gracie for the first time to Australia. There are few better qualified to assess the skills of Hunt and Werdum, as Giant has competed against Werdum in BJJ and trained/cornered Mark Hunt.

Gigante and Hunt

At 2.03 cm tall and 120kgs, Giant cuts a impressive figure wandering around the Dee Why beach front. More impressive is his BJJ and combat sports experience over the past 20 something years. He immigrated to Australia in 2011 to bring some of that experience to the Australian Federation of BJJ as Head Referee, heres what he had to say on he Hunt vs Werdum match-up.


Fight Sport Asia: Both these guys have gone to to the top of their respective disciplines, for Mark it was kick-boxing and Werdum is a grappling and BJJ world champ, why do you think they chose to to transition into MMA, I mean Mark is 40, what is the motivation to still be knocking guys heads off?

Giant: Mark is a real fighter, because when you start in K-1 you are not scared about punches and kicks and if you want to do something better today: MMA is great, better than K-1, who knows the next fight in K-1?..only kickerboxing and Muay Thai guys. Everybody knows about the next UFC, about the next contender for the title…everybody. That’s why I think Mark, after his title in K-1, then the UFC and Pride (FC) really started to get going and he was interested. He has such confidence in his hands.

But the problem is always learning the MMA game, its a different game and different style. Ok you have great hands, but if you don’t know basic ‘blocks’ and basic defence on the ground you are going to be in trouble. Same goes for Werdum…when he started his boxing was very simple. In my opinion it is easier to learn learn boxing, because you don’t need the same time you need to learn jiu-jitsu, jiu-jitsu is like a puzzle and has more options and more techniques and you are using your whole body. To improve Werdum’s game was easier than improving Mark’s game.

FSA: How would you rate Mark’s game on the ground?

Giant: Mark never trains with a Gi and without a Gi it’s like wrestling, no belts, but I think Steve (Oliver) or (Ricardo) Liborio gave him a purple belt. Mark is strong and he knows the basics for MMA. There is no secret if Mark accepts Werdum’s guard, Werdum has a great chance to submit him. In my opinion Mark cannot go to the ground, Struves level, we can’t compare Struve and Werdum. Werdum is 100% better than Struve. Of course without a Gi it’s different, levels come closer, but Werdum is Abu Dhabi champion and his No Gi is the top in the world.

Mundials 2004

FSA: What is it about Werdum that makes him so dangerous?

Giant: Werdum has very good coaches with him and he is a very technical guy with long limbs and a strong heart. He is as dangerous as they come. On the ground he will use his long legs and has a great chance to submit Mark in a triangle, move to his back, sweep him or to change from triangle to armbar.

Werdum has been preparing in Mexico for Cain Velasquez, Velasquez is the #1 guy, Werdum has been acclimatising and getting ready for a war for over 2 months. He has Babalu (Renato Sobral), a top wrestler, and Rafael Cordeiro who is one of the best coaches in the world.

In my opinion Werdum will initially look to control the distance standing and tire Mark out and then try something, but I don’t have any inside knowledge. For Mark, its simple, he has to close the distance and punch him on the face, no secrets. Close the distance, be smart, put his back on the cage. Don’t give Werdum space and use his hands and low kicks.


FSA: Can you give us your prediction for the fight?

Giant: Mark is of course the underdog, I spoke to him and I know he is 20kgs overweight, Mexico City is over 2000m above sea level, so its a big problem, because of course Werdum’s conditioning is better than Marks, but Mark has two things: his hands and his heart. It doesn’t matter his age, he doesn’t care, he has the chance and conditions to be a champion.


FSA: Can he go 5 rounds?

Giant: Look what he did with Pezao (Antonio Bigfoot Silva) in one of the greatest fights ever.

Its a coin toss, whoever has the better strategy, the better corner. Sometimes your mind doesn’t work inside the cage, thats why you need a good corner on your side. If you have a good corner and he can see and understand what your opponent wants to do, then you can beat your opponent.

Thats it, it will be a very good fight.

Relson Gracie

FSA: Thank you Giant, can you tell us about the visit of Grandmaster Relson Gracie to Australia?

Giant: Relson is my friend and for a long time I have talked with him about coming to Australia and now I have the opportunity to organise some seminars. He is Helio Gracie’s second son, after Rorion. Rorion was more business man than Relson, Rorion started the UFC, Rorion put Roycie (Royce) to fight and he looked after the business in the 80’s and 90’s to make jiu-jitsu bigger, but of course he can’t do it by himself and he needs fighters, thats why he put Royce to fight and Rickson in Japan and Relson was Royce Gracies trainer (with his brothers of course, he was the oldest one).

Relson said to me, ‘Giant, I am the only one in the world who has the real Helio Gracie self-defence and I want to teach you.”. That is his focus teaching self-defence, teaching police to neutralised without hurt…so I invited him to come out to Australia and teach us and he is coming for the first time in November.



Grandmaster Relson Gracie, is Helio Gracie’s (creator of Gracie jiu-jitsu) son, he’s a 9th degree Red Belt and has over 100 academies around the world. He will be in Australia from the 14th of November until the 1st of December. Contact Giant Team for more details.


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Categories: Australia, Featured, MMA, UFC

Author:Michael Job

Australasian MMA


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2 Comments on “Marco Gigante Villela Interview: Mark Hunt is a real fighter”

  1. Michael Job
    October 30, 2014 at 9:21 pm #

    Reblogged this on Once Were Wimps.

  2. November 2, 2014 at 5:05 am #

    Reblogged this on Kiwi Combat.

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