A true pioneer of mixed martial arts in every sense of the word, when Gary Goodridge retired from the fight-game in January—turning the page on both his 14 year tenure as a mixed martial artist and his over-decade long professional kickboxing career, hardcore fans of combat sports everywhere took note.
Arguably as well-travelled as anyone on the professional mixed martial arts or kick-boxing circuits, Goodridge, who was born in Trinidad and Tobago but has lived in Canada since age seven, has fought in 15 different nations since making his professional debut in 1996, including bouts across Asia, Europe, North America, and South America.
As a mixed martial artist, Goodridge has competed under the UFC, Pride FC, and Affliction banners and has fought a who’s who of mixed martial arts legends, including Don Frye [thrice], Mark Coleman, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Fedor Emelianenko, and Alistair Overeem.
Furthermore, as a professional kickboxer, Goodridge boasts a resume consisting of over 30 bouts with the K-1 organization, including matches against top-level competition like Jerome Le Banner [twice], Peter Aerts [twice], Ray Sefo, and Remy Bonjasky.
Although Goodridge’s career record for mixed martial arts and kickboxing, combined, hovers below .500—with 35 wins, 45 losses, and three draws, “Big Daddy” has long been regarded by fans around the world for both his willingness to take on any opponent—regardless of stature in the sport and his fan-friendly, in-your-face style of fighting.
Recently, the man they call “Big Daddy” took time out of his schedule to speak with Bleacher Report’s Ed Kapp for an exclusive interview.
So, you’re officially retired from mixed martial arts?
I’m officially retired from fighting—it’ll take a hell of a lot of money to get me back in the ring throwing punches at somebody.
So there is a chance that you’ll be back in the ring some day?
I hope not.
You hope not?
Yeah, I’ve had enough. I did what I can do and really, now, I’m just going out strictly for the money and looking like a joke. The old Gary Goodridge—I’ve kind of lost that in terms of running after money. I’ve got to stay out of it in order to let people remember who I am and where I came from.
What’s your fondest memory as a mixed martial artist?
Just the camaraderie amongst all of the individuals. There was great camaraderie among friends and opponents—I had a good time.
How would you like your fans to remember you, Mr. Goodridge?
Somebody that never backed down—never said “no” to anyone. I took any fight on a moment’s notice. I want people to remember me as a guy who fought. I fought my hardest every time and I did the best I could do with what I had.
Is coaching or training something that you’d be interested in doing?
Absolutely. I used to have my own club—I taught and did many other things there. I owned my own club for about nine months.
Do you have any regrets as a mixed martial artist?
My only regret is staying in it as long as I did—I should’ve gotten out a while ago. But no, I have no regrets—other than that, no. I enjoyed everything I did. Yeah, I would’ve retired earlier.
Why is that?
I just feel that I did enough—you know? I did enough.
During your fighting days, did you have a favourite country to compete in?
Oh man, to compete in is hard to say—definitely not the United States. My favourite country would be Japan—I love the Japanese fans. The greatest country I’ve ever been to is Brazil—I love Brazil, I love competing there. I understand it’s a dangerous place and blah, blah, blah, but I really, really enjoy Brazil.
When did you move to Canada, Mr. Goodridge?
You can drop the “Goodridge” stuff—that’s my dad and I call him [expletive] most of the time.
Okay, Gary [laughs].
I moved to Canada back when I was seven years old.
Do you have any memories of your life in Trinidad?
As a matter of fact, I do—my long-term memory is impeccable. I have great, fond memories of living in Trinidad. The furthest thing I can remember in the back of my mind was when I was three years old. I’ve got a very good memory—like I said, my long term-memory is impeccable.
Have you been back since you moved to Canada?
Yes, I have. As a matter of fact we just came back; I went there with my family. It was actually with my mom and my sisters—we all went back to the Tobago part of Trinidad and had a great time.
Would you like to go back in the future?
I would like to. They’re getting into MMA quite a bit there, so who knows, they’ll probably send for me to come out and referee or do something down there.
I’ve spoken with a lot of guys—specifically Canadian guys—that have said that they really looked up to you when they were coming up as young mixed martial artists. What does that mean to you?
Well, I’m glad that I can have people look up to me to do anything, you know? I’m just a normal person—as a matter of fact, sometimes I’m not super-normal. I’m just a normal person—I get angry, I get pissed off, I feel love, anger, crying, resentment—everything, just like everybody else. I don’t like when people say I’m a great person—I’m just who I am, I’m not trying to be anybody.
If your children wanted to pursue a career in mixed martial arts, would you encourage that?
Well, I have two girls [laughs heartily]. No—I want them to be beauty-queens! I mean, I want them to kick butt and all, but no! My girls can’t do that! If I had a boy child, then yeah, absolutely—I think that would be great. But no man, my girls can’t do that—my girls are dainty.
Do you take issue with women’s mixed martial arts?
I think women can be anything, so I have no problem with that. Women are women—they’re people, too.
Is there anything that you’d like to say to your fans while you have this opportunity?
I want to say thank-you very much for the support over the last few years—sorry, over the last 15 years. I’ve had nothing but a great time.