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Welcome to the UFC, Thibault Gouti

A last minute injury on the UFC London: Silva vs. Bisping undercard means a French newcomer is on his way to the UFC.

It's always a little surprising to me just how often the UFC ends up needing to go and get a new lightweight fighter for a short notice fight. For a division bursting to the gills with talent, it often seems to lack exactly the right person when needed. For the UFC's London show, the promotion needed a fighter ready to make 155 on short notice, who also had an EU visa already. Thus, the UFC went out and picked up Thibault Gouti, a competitor from the most recent season of TUF who lost his bout to get into the house. His signing was announced by the promotion last week. So...

Who is Thibault Gouti?

The French lightweight also known as "GT" comes to the UFC training out of Big Team MMA, which I'll be the first to admit, I can find zero quality info on. He has an overall record of 11-0 with his most recent win being his most notable, a 3rd round KO over former UFC fighter Anton Kuivanen. He also has a quality win over Finnish prospect Mikael Nyyssonen and Spanish regional vet Ramon Boixader. Despite having a strong string of finishes as a pro, Gouti's record is otherwise made up of cans and .500 fighters. Outside of his two fight stint in Finnish promotion "Cage" I wouldn't read too much into his fights. Outside MMA, it looks like Gouti has also been a competitive squash player.

What you should expect:

I'm not sure if Gouti has some experience as a boxer as well as in MMA, because he has some really solid fundamentals. He works well behind a jab and even doubles it up on occasion. His hands are relatively fast, he has good power, and his mechanics are pretty decent. His only problem striking is that, because he likes to rely on hand parries to defend (and his defense isn't amazing) he doesn't offer much return fire when opponents are throwing punches at him. Every time an opponent strikes he kind of freezes up and tries to figure out how he should defend. And he often gets hit because of it.

His takedown defense is what I'd describe as "single layer" in that he's got a good sprawl and can stuff an initial shot, but when things get complicated I don't see him having a lot of secondary answers. Similarly Gouti has shown some signs of a offensive wrestling and grappling game, but given the level of competition most of that came against, and a French rule-set that doesn't allow for ground-and-pound, I don't have a lot of faith in those skills translating directly to the UFC. Against his best opponent, Kuivanen, he essentially fought a prolonged boxing match in 4oz gloves, I feel like that's most indicative of what we'll see to start his UFC career.

What this means for his debut?

Depending on who you listen to (check out the UFC London Vivisection), Gouti will either win his debut or lose it. Granted there aren't a lot of tertiary options. But to my mind, his grappling and wrestling are too underdeveloped from the circuit he's been fighting out of, to go against a bigger more well rounded opponent like Packalen. I realize Packalen isn't exactly a wealth of experience himself, and is functional but not exceptional everywhere. But I think that Packalen's wrestling and size will get him the win, especially on short notice. Still, it's a bit of a coin flip debut.

To get us better acquainted, here's Gouti's most recent bout against Anton Kuivanen.

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