Canadian martial artist
Canadian martial artist
Gary Henry Goodridge (born January 17, 1966), nicknamed "Big Daddy", is a Trinidadian-Canadian former heavyweight kickboxer and mixed martial artist fighting out of Barrie, Ontario. Prior to kickboxing and MMA, he was also one of the top ranked contenders in the world of professional arm wrestling. In early 2012, Goodridge was diagnosed with early onset of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).
Goodridge was born in Saint James, Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago before moving to Barrie, Ontario, Canada. Prior to his career in combat sports, he worked as a welder at the Honda factory in Alliston, Ontario.
He was a world champion in arm wrestling, and was able to defeat the likes of greats Sharon Remez and John Brzenk in 1991 and again in 1994. He was also the super heavyweight amateur boxing champion of Canada.
Goodridge originally applied for Ultimate Fighting Championship at his friends' suggestion after they watched the fight between Remco Pardoel and Orlando Wiet in UFC 2. He started training in a Kuk Sool Won school, as he wanted some martial arts credentials aside from his boxing championship, only to find out that the school was already training a fighter to compete in UFC. Gary was forced to fight him, and he won in dominant fashion, so he was quickly offered a 4th degree black belt and a free dobok if he represented the school at the event. He ended up going to UFC 8 with less than a month's experience in the art.
In 1996, Goodridge made his debut in UFC in the eight-man tournament at UFC 8: David vs. Goliath in San Juan, Puerto Rico. He first went against amateur wrestler Paul Herrera, whom Goodridge outweighed by nearly 80 lbs. In order to increase Goodridge's will to fight, he had been told by his friends that Herrera and his teammate Tank Abbott were white supremacists. The resultant fight would be a spectacular knockout, as Herrera shot for a fireman's carry only to be caught in a crucifix position by Goodridge, who then proceeded to deliver multiple elbow strikes to the helpless Herrera's head, ending the bout in 13 seconds. The second elbow strike landed on Herrera's temple and knocked him unconscious, but the fight was not stopped until Goodridge landed seven more blows, giving Herrera a concussion and a broken cheekbone. According to Goodridge, the hold had been planned by him and his cornermen after they casually witnessed Herrera training intensively his fireman's carry takeovers, although they had originally conceived it to set up a wrist lock, not strikes.
Goodridge advanced to second round, where he faced Lion's Den fighter Jerry Bohlander. Goodridge made usage of his strength advantage to control Bohlander, but he got swept and received punches and headbutts until he could escape from Bohlander's mount. Eventually Goodridge stacked him against the fence and landed two heavy right hooks, knocking Jerry out. Before his match at the finals against future legend Don Frye, Goodridge considered quitting for an alternate due to exhaustion and lack of preparation, but he accepted the fight in order to collect the bout money. Goodridge opened the fight throwing Frye to the mat with a waist lock and trying to get a finishing kick to the head, only for Frye to escape and punish him with uppercuts from the clinch. Gary managed to take him down again and capture his back, but Frye reversed and rained punches, making a tired Goodridge tap out.
Goodridge returned at UFC 9: Motor City Madness in a non-tournament bout against Olympic wrestler Mark Schultz. The wrestler controlled the fight by taking Gary down and grinding him with short punches, and eventually landed a flurry of blows from the mount as the time ran out. Instead of going to the overtime period, the referee stopped the fight due to cuts in Goodridge's face, which Schultz had rubbed in order to deepen them. On July 12, 1996, at UFC 10: The Tournament, Goodridge took part in his second UFC tournament. He first fought wrestler John Campetella, knocking him out with left punches from the mount after reversing a takedown, and advanced round against wrestling champion and eventual winner Mark Coleman. Goodridge was taken down repeatedly, struck with elbows and headbutts and finally submitted for giving his back.
His next UFC match came on December 7, 1996, at Ultimate Ultimate 1996, in a rematch against Don Frye. After trading strikes inside the clinch, Goodridge scored a takedown and started punishing Frye with headbutts. However, Frye reached for two armbars attempts and got free, performing his own takedown, and then Goodridge tapped out due to exhaustion just like their first time.
Following his UFC career, Goodridge travelled to Brazil to compete in vale tudo. His first match was against Mario "Sukata" Neto, which ended in 6:02 when Goodridge tapped out again due to exhaustion.
On July 6, 1997, Goodridge participated in the first International Vale Tudo Championship tournament. He submitted Augusto Menezes Santos, improvising a neck crank from a standing double underhook position, and then fellow UFC veteran Cal Worsham, locking a keylock, both in a combined time of 0:75. He then advanced to the finals, where he faced luta livre stylist Pedro Otavio. As the IVC ruleset allowed groin shots, the fight featured multiple low blows intertwined with their grappling exchanges. In a particularly brutal instance, Goodridge capitalized on having Otavio in a butterfly guard to get his feet inside the Brazilian's tights and squeeze his testicles with his toes. Finally, after grabbing again Otavio's testicles from a clinch, Goodridge overpowered him and landed strikes for the KO, winning the tournament.
In late 1997, Goodridge was recruited to compete in Japan's PRIDE Fighting Championships and made his promotional debut in its very first event PRIDE1 on October 11. Facing Russian grappler and UFC tournament winner Oleg Taktarov, Goodridge showed his superiority by stunning and punishing him with strikes, both standing and on the ground, before scoring a brutal knockout by right hook. Taktarov was rendered unconscious and had to be taken away on a stretcher.
Goodridge returned at PRIDE 2 on March 15, 1998, where he faced UFC 7 tournament winner and Brazilian luta livre fighter Marco Ruas. Goodridge dominated most of the match, cutting Ruas with a punch and landing ground and pound on the mat, but as they were restarted on the feet, a slip allowed Ruas to come back with his own offense. Although Goodridge immediately took Ruas down as well, the Brazilian capitalized on the lapse to catch him in a heel hook for the tap out.
At PRIDE 3, Goodridge faced Bas Rutten trainee Amir Rahnavardi, who looked to exchange strikes before being knocked down with Gary on top. The UFC veteran punished Rahnavardi with punches while the latter attempted leglocks and triangle chokes to no avail; at one point Goodridge theatrically shouted Amir to hit him back. Though Rahnavardi threw some strikes from the bottom, Goodridge landed a barrage of punches and knocked him out.
Goodridge's last consecutive PRIDE appearance was in PRIDE 4, where he fought Ukrainian kickboxer Igor Vovchanchyn in the latter's debut fight. Warned of Igor's reputation as a powerful striker, Goodridge took him down, but a mistake allowed Igor to scramble back to his feet. The UFC fighter pressed on, bloodying Vovchanchyn and taking him down again, only for Igor to break the clinch and land two solid left hooks that knocked Goodridge out on his feet.
Following a brief return to the UFC in 1999, when he quickly submitted Andre Roberts at UFC 19: Ultimate Young Guns, Goodridge met Olympic judoka Naoya Ogawa at Pride 6. He landed blows against the inexperienced Ogawa, but the judoka eventually took him down and started attempting submissions. In the second round, Ogawa swept Goodridge and finally locked an ude-garami, making him tap out.
It was rumored that Goodridge had been paid to throw the fight, but Gary himself said in an interview that, although he was effectively proposed an anonymous money bribe to let Ogawa win, he rejected it and fought for real, thus losing legitimately to Ogawa.He added that PRIDE executive Nobuyuki Sakakibara had promised him "to write his own ticket" if he defeated Ogawa in order to increase his motivation.
On January 20, 2000, Goodridge took part in the sixteen-man, open weight tournament PRIDE Grand Prix 2000. His first opponent was a debutant, former professional wrestler Osamu "Tachihikari" Kawahara, whom Goodridge defeated via choke in under a minute. His quarter-finals adversary would be Igor Vovchanchyn, who knocked out Goodridge for the second time after a battle contested mainly with punches. Goodridge was eliminated from the tournament, but continued to cement his status as PRIDE's gatekeeper, which gave name to his official biography.
His short tenure in the tournament was echoed in the results of his next two matches, starting with a match against highly regarded grappler Ricco Rodriguez. The debutant Rodriguez attempted repeated takedowns in the first round, but Goodridge was able to block most of his offense and land opportunistic strikes. In the second round, however, Rodriguez scored an early takedown and dominated the Trinidadian with ground and pound, ultimately gaining the decision win. The second bout was a short affair against RINGS Japan veteran Gilbert Yvel at PRIDE 10. Both men looked to strike, but Yvel moved first and landed a left roundhouse kick to the head, knocking his opponent out.
Goodridge finally bounced back against Yoshiaki Yatsu, another professional wrestling veteran making his debut, at PRIDE 11. Despite Yatsu's Olympic amateur wrestling credentials, Goodridge easily avoided his takedowns, while landing regular leg kicks and one-two combos. The wrestler eventually took Gary down, but the latter escaped from his leglock attempt and caused a momentary pause after landing an illegal knee. After the restart, however, Goodridge swarmed him with uppercuts until the referee called a stop to the bout.
The Trinidadian continued his streak by defeating another RINGS Japan fighter, Bob Schrijber, in an event in Holland, and a third, Valentijn Overeem, in his return to PRIDE. The last was especially notable, as after outstriking Overeem and negating his guard, Goodridge avoided a Kimura lock, thanks in part to his arm wrestling skill. He then landed a heavy knee strike (now legal) and followed with ground and pound until the TKO.
The streak stopped at PRIDE 15, however, against the debutant RINGS King of Kings champion Antônio Rodrigo Nogueira. His debut was going to be against Mark Coleman, but the latter pulled out due to an injury and Goodridge stepped in on short notice. The bout was short, although Goodridge worked to avoid his adversary's Brazilian jiu-jitsu expertise, Nogueira managed to bring him to his guard and lock a triangle choke for the win.
At the end of 2002, Goodridge participated in the K-1 Andy Memorial event, submitting superheavyweight kickboxer Jan Nortje by armbar, and also rematched Yoshiaki Yatsu, beating him with strikes in even less time than the first time. His last fight of the year was a special "K-1 vs. PRIDE" rules bout against vale tudo fighter Ebenezer Fontes Braga in Inoki Bom-Ba-Ye, which ended in a draw.
Goodridge started 2002 opposite to Achmed Labasanov from Russian Top Team (former RINGS Russia) at PRIDE 21. The Russian opened strong and controlled the Trinidadian on the mat, but Goodridge scrambled, managed to get on top, and scored knees and punches for some minutes. The second round would be slower, as Labasanov took Goodridge down yet performed no attacks, which prompted Goodridge to scream "hit me!" in frustration. At the third, Goodridge took over and scored knees and punches for the unanimous decision. At PRIDE Shockwave 2002, Gary faced Dutch kickboxer Lloyd van Dams, whom he defeated quickly by takedown and ground and pound despite the Dutchman's size advantage.
After a hiatus of a year, Goodridge would fight another Russian Top Team exponent, Fedor Emelianenko, who made short work of him by punches, knees and soccer kicks in 1:09. Goodridge returned to PRIDE after some months, fighting fellow UFC veteran Dan Bobish. The match met a controversial ending, as Goodridge knocked him out with a punching combination while Bobish was trying to signal an eye gouge to the referee.
Goodridge had his official retirement fight at PRIDE Shockwave 2003 after six years of fighting for PRIDE. It would make for a rubber match against his old UFC rival Don Frye, who was similarly past his prime after his own long career. Goodridge would write in his autobiography that he had to receive numbing injections in his lower back only to be able to walk, while Frye himself looked in pain just to get up from his chair. Despite those difficulties, Goodridge dominated the scuffle with strikes and ended up knocking out Frye with a right roundhouse kick to the head. Goodridge was then met with a standing ovation while he celebrated with Frye and PRIDE executives Nobuyuki Sakakibara and Nobuhiko Takada, who presided his retirement ceremony. The instance was so emotional that commentator Stephen Quadros was quoted as: "Hollywood could not have scripted a batter ending for [Goodridge's] career."
Despite the end of his contract with PRIDE, Goodridge would return to the ring just months later in the K-1 and Hero's organizations, for which he fought both kickboxing and MMA matches.
In 2004, Goodridge began competing for the K-1 promotion's HERO'S series. In his promotional debut, he knocked out pro wrestler Sylvester Terkay in round 1 at K-1 MMA ROMANEX. On March 26, 2005, at HERO'S 1, Goodridge defeated Russian sumo wrestler Alan Karaev by submission.
Following this, he lost to fellow PRIDE veteran Heath Herring at HERO'S by knockout on March 15, 2006. At HERO'S 8 on March 12, 2007, Goodridge beat South African Jan "The Giant" Nortje via TKO. This would be his last professional victory despite going on to compete for a further three years.