Entering UFC Fight Island 8, Ike Villanueva was calling his fight against Vinicius Moreira his Game 7 and it was do-or-die for his UFC career.
Both men were winless in the UFC. But, Villanueva knew if he touched the chin of Moreira he would go down. However, early on in the fight, the Brazilian had a high guard. That forced Villanueva to attack the body which would then set up the KO punch.
“No doubt, the gameplan was I just needed to touch his chin once. I just needed to be patient, I knew I couldn’t rush anything with his grappling experience,” Villanueva said to BJPENN.com. “He had the high guard for the first round, so I thought he knew he couldn’t let me hit him. With his high guard, it allowed me to exploit his body and get his hands to drop and sure enough, it did and I landed the KO shot.”
When he landed the punch and Moreira was knocked out, Villanueva burst out into emotion as he knew his dream paid off. He also wanted to be a UFC fighter and fulfilled that goal last year, but to get his first win was special.
“It was years of hard work. Everyone who doubted me saying I didn’t belong in the UFC, to have a walk-off knockout like that was amazing,” Villanueva said. “I’m still in shock, it just proved to everyone to not give up on your dream.”
Although the win and the walk-off KO was special, Ike Villanueva did not get a Performance of the Night bonus. Villanueva thought he was a shoo-in for the bonus but did not get it. When he found out he didn’t get it, he admits he was heartbroken.
“I went to bed heartbroken like the first time I found out Santa Clause wasn’t real,” Ike Villanueva said. “I did everything right, I gave the UFC the highest praise, I didn’t demand it or anything like that. The fashion I did it in, I thought I had it in the bag. When I found out I didn’t get it, I was upset but just had to shake it off.”
Despite not getting a bonus, Villanueva is just happy to be a UFC fighter. He also hopes to return sometime in the spring.
“Right now, Jason House, my manager, we are looking at May or June,” Villanueva concluded. “There are some things I want to fix in my game as I know it will only get harder from here.”
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