Despite taking place inside Singapore Indoor Stadium in Kallang, Singapore, the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) show this weekend (Sat., Aug. 26, 2023) on ESPN+ is surprisingly light on newcomers, featuring just a single debut. On this edition of “New Blood,” the series where I really should just do write ups of Contender Series graduates as soon as they sign, we check out a delightfully Justin Gaethje-esque slugger.
Weight Class: Welterweight
Record: 8-2 (6 KO)
Notable Victories: Shimon Smotritsky, Justin Sumter, Robson Gracie Jr.
After starting his professional mixed martial arts (MMA) career 2-2, Goff found the spark he was looking for when he upset Robson Gracie Jr. under the Bellator banner. His current unbeaten streak has seen him win a belt in Cage Titans, claim two belts in CES, then batter Shimon Smotritsky to win a Contender Series contract.
Though a former collegiate wrestler, Goff is often happy to strike. His usual approach is to bully opponents with straight rights and uppercuts until they hit the fence, then unload with hooks and elbows. He possesses some solid low kicks and jabs, but the cross-uppercut-cross blitz is his weapon of choice. A strong gas tank lets him pump out impressive volume, especially once he’s got his man hurt, and makes up for what seems like limited one-punch power.
Goff also possesses ludicrous recovery, which would be more praiseworthy if his bad habits didn’t make it necessary for his striking to function. Goff dips his head way too much, both as a response to incoming fire and when throwing his right hand. He ducked right into a clean head kick from Smotritsky that floored him early, then another uppercut afterward that he managed to withstand.
That was far from the only near-disaster he’s faced in recent bouts, like when Garry Balletto Jr. folded him with a straight right. Both times, he managed to survive and physically overwhelm his opponents, but he can’t expect to do that at the highest level.
His wrestling looks decent, at least offensively. He easily took Balletto down before clobbering him with elbows for the next couple minutes and turned a caught kick into a takedown against the larger Justin Sumter. That said, Sumter quickly scrambled up, grabbed a rear waist lock in the scramble, and German suplexed his way into back mount. Goff needed the bell to get out from underneath, though he once again showed off his elbow prowess in the next round after forcing a panic shot, muscling Sumter to the mat, and beating him senseless.
He hasn’t shown any real submission attack of late. He did spin for a leg after eating that shin to the chin from Smotritsky, but that seemed more like a survival mechanism than an actual finishing threat.
Goff has heart, cardio and aggression for days. As of now, he’s too prone to winding up in bad spots because of leaky striking and grappling defense, though he still has time to improve at just 25 years young. That said, I do think he’s in for a rough UFC debut — Yusaku Kinoshita hits like a truck and his overly linear approach should work out against another direct fighter in Goff.
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Singapore fight card right here, starting with the ESPN/ESPN+ “Prelims” matches, which are scheduled to begin at 5 a.m. ET, then the remaining main card balance (also on ESPN+) at 8 a.m. ET.
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