Friday, February 1st, American welterweight prospect Jared Gooden will be in action in Arizona, where he will be looking to possibly cash in on a UFC contract against fellow prospect Steven Newell. He will be fighting in the co-main event, as Gooden was moved from the main event after Kyle Stewart dropped out of the fight to sign with the UFC. Gooden represents the X3 Sports gym, an underrated camp that is looking to establish some more notoriety. Let’s take a closer look at this prospect as this week’s “Prospect Spotlight.”
Power Striking: The most obvious part of Gooden’s game is that he is a power striker through and through. Every fight I have watched him in, he is a stalker on the feet that throws heavy leather. He is more than happy to engage in firefights. His striking consists mostly of using his hands. He could kick more, but his hands are certainly effective. When he connects with shots, he’s quite devastating. Any of his shots can rock people. Also, when he does put an opponent down with a strike, he follows it with heavy ground-and-pound from top position that ends fights…
Killer Instinct: …which leads us to Gooden’s other strength: ability to finish. Once Gooden smells blood in the water, he attacks like a shark. When Gooden hurts his opponent, he puts everything he has left into finishing his rocked/dazed opponent. If you watch his tape against Ladarious Jackson, once Gooden got the upper hand and hurt Jackson, he was relentless in damaging him and eventually putting him away. It’s a great quality to have; he doesn’t like to see the judge’s scorecards.
Takedown Defense: The biggest, most glaring weakness I have seen in watching Gooden is his takedown defense. This is especially the case when his opponent is fresh. In the previously mentioned Jackson fight, Jackson took Gooden down early in the fight and controlled the pace of the fight, until Gooden was finally able to get up and take control of the fight. He wasn’t so fortunate when fighting Julien Williams. In that fight, Gooden never got out of the starting blocks. Williams closed the distance early and often, taking Gooden down on demand and controlling him from both the clinch and top position. Gooden needs to get this addressed immediately, as welterweight is a haven of top-notch wrestlers.
Taunting: In watching his highlight tape and several of his bouts, Gooden definitely likes to taunt and showboat when he is on the feet. He likes to keep his hands down, taunt guys to come forward and let down his defenses. For a guy with questionable takedown defense, this is not a great quality to have. That said, in recent interviews, he has talked about being more humble (though that was about trash talking). If he carries that attitude into future fights, this “needed improvement” may have already been cleared up.
UFC Curtain Jerker: As mentioned, having average/below average wrestling in the welterweight division is certainly a big disadvantage. Gooden’s striking and entertainment value are surely good enough to get to the UFC, but he will likely be relegated to the prelims for that tenure. He will provide good entertainment for UFC fans and the bosses, but it’s hard to see him making it to the top half of the divisional rankings. It will be a fun ride, though.