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New England's best head West for Dana White's Contender Series

Travis Lizotte "Full Contact Writer"

The UFC is constantly looking to filter new talent to its roster and two of New England's top prospects stepped up to the challenge Tuesday night in Las Vegas, Nevada as Welterweight Billy Goff (8-2) and Featherweight Connor Matthews (5-1) entered the UFC cage, inside the UFC Apex on the second week of Dana White's Contender Series in this, the Summer of 2022.

First up for the New England contingent Tuesday night; Groton, Connecticut's Billy Goff (8-2, Dexter MMA), widely regarded as the most promising prospect to come from the New England region, the 24 year old Goff entered the cage Tuesday night a -165 favorite (at closing) against Israel's Shimon Smotritsky (8-2). Although Goff battled some early adversity, including a "shin to chin" headkick in the opening 15 seconds that according to Goff, "Knocked (him) on his ass" however, once Goff cleared the cobwebs and solved the reach advantage of the 6'2" Smotritsky it was all over but the cryin'. Goff began to find a home for his strikes, putting together long technical combinations that overwhelmed Smotritsky, as fists and elbows began to connect to the chin of his opponent Goff sensed the finish, crumbling the talented Israeli to the mat and capturing the stoppage via strikes at 3:37 of the opening round.

Result: Billy Goff TKO's Shimon Smotritsky at 3:37 of round 1. (Punches) UFC President Dana White found Goff's performance equally as compelling, signing the former Cage Titans Welterweight Champion and former CES Welterweight and Middleweight Champion to a contract with the UFC! I've said it many times in the past, Billy Goff has done it right, never shying away from top competition and paving his road to the UFC roster, given his experience and ever evolving abilities I see Goff's tenure being a lasting one.

Between Goff's finish and him being awarded a UFC contract, Billy called into "The Room Podcast" during our Contender Series Fight Companion to share his thoughts with the New England MMA fans, thank you Billy for reaching out during one of the biggest moments of your life, we wish you nothing but the best as you continue to make the region proud in the UFC!

Next up Connor "The Controller" Matthews (5-1, Lauzon MMA/ Controller MMA) entered the Vegas Desert riding an impressive five fight win streak. Finishing each of his opponents in the first round since turning pro in the Summer of 2019. If there was one knock on the Brockton native coming into the his Contender Series bout with Francis "The Fire" Marshall (6-0), it was the quality of his opposition. Those question would be answered Tuesday night when Matthews squared off with 23 year old Kurt Pellegrino understudy Francis Marshall, a BJJ Purple belt who wound up being very polished...everywhere.

Matthews who had never made it out of the first round during his come up was forced to his grit and durability as this one would go all three rounds. Matthews definitely showed that he could hang with the upper echelon of talent in the Featherweight division, however he was one step behind the New Jersey native inside the cage and on the judges scorecards Tuesday night. Connor showed that there is a ton of heart guiding that talent of his as I'm sure when we look back on this fight months or years down the road, we will see it as a feather in the cap of Matthews career and not as much of a set back, Francis Marshall is a beast who I believe will go on to be successful during his run in the UFC after being extended a contract following the outcome of this one.

Result: Connor Matthews drops a tough Unanimous Decision to Francis Marshall. Although the result stings a little for us here at New England MMA and beyond, the fact that we will once again be able to see Matthews in one of our regions cages in the near future will help ease the burn for sure. Only up from here Connor!

Connor Matthews via Facebook: "I still love this shit, I'm not done. Sorry for the outcome, I'll be back."

New England MMA went live Tuesday night for a Contender Series Fight Companion on our YouTube page as Steve, Lars and Myself reacted to week 2 live as it went down from the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada. Check out the entire Fight Companion video below.

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