Gary Goodridge, also known as "Big Daddy", is one of Canada's most prolific fighters of all time. He exploded onto the Mixed Martial Arts stage with his thrilling victory in the Ultimate Fighting Championship 8 over Paul Herrera using massive elbow strikes. He then became the IVC World Champ in 1997. Following the UFC, he then moved to the Pride Fighting Championship and became the "Gatekeeper". His victories here include wins over Don Frye, Dan Bobish, Valentijn Overeem, and a devastating KO of Oleg Taktarov. "Big Daddy" was then unfortunately forced to retire early from Pride due to some personal issues. However, once he straightened things out, he joined the K-1 Fighting Championship; an organization he now calls home. "Big Daddy" anxiously awaits his upcoming fights, where he can represent "Team Go Riki" with his ultimate strength and stamina. He hopes to continue his legacy of victory and showmanship for all of his dedicated and loyal fans.
Let me start by saying, I love coming to Japan. This is my home and I love fighting for the Japanese audience.
This fight was particularly hard, because of the close bond Jan and I have shared over the years. Yes, I've fought Tom Erikson, Mark Coleman, and even Jan Nortje, but all through those times I barely knew them. Jan and I have been training partners since my move to K1. He's been my sparring partner, running partner, and as we trained together, we pushed eachother to the limit, each hoping to have the other one quit...as we were being pushed by Steve Kalakoda. Needless to say, I love this man (Jan). We've shared a bit of eachother's lives that will be kept in our memories till death do us part.
The synopsis of the fight goes from my recollection as follows:
Jan and I were given the verbal indication to start the match. We started to methodically advance toward eachother. We were both like painters, who were trying to create a masterpiece. There were a few jabs thrown by each of us, as we were both starting our masterpieces...but nothing with any sort of full commitment. Jan was obviously waiting for the take down as I am sure I looked ready for it too.
Next thing I came to realize is that I'm doing the "rope a dope" aka like Ali and Foreman. As an artist, only people that have seen me paint before, could see what I was doing and could understand/appreciate the beginning of the end: Gary getting into his groove.
I avoided many punches, kicks, knees...maybe less than 5% got through. I could feel my friend losing stamina on every blow. I was going to be his masterpiece, and he was going to be my finished product...and with every strike it became more real in my mind. I then noticed during his varage of punches, his hands were down and open for my high head kick. I leaped into the air, as an artist would take his brush on his canvass, and landed a good kick to his head hoping for a KO.
He stopped my kick with his head, standing 6 ft 10 in height, and grabbed my leg and pushed me back into the ropes. I was told later that he was thinking of throwing me out of the ring. Shortly after that, I performed a single leg take down, and got it. Next thing I know I'm punching at his head, getting closer to finishing my masterpiece. The end was more clear to me, my masterpiece was coming. I knew I would have to continue until the referee stopped the fight. I was able to get enough punches off to hurt my hand, then the referee stopped the fight and my masterpiece was completed.
All in all, in my recollection...keeping in mind 10 hours after my event, it was the fight of the night. We had a crowd-pleasing fight, and no one gave up. We fought our balls off for our families, fans, and our jobs. The friendship between Jan and I has not changed at all, and there is a strong possibility we'll fight again in Hawaii. I guess maybe that will give him an opportunity to finish his masterpiece, maybe not.
I thank my fans and my supporters for staying up all night. I could feel the positive energy and love in the room. I guess we'll be doing this again in 5 weeks from Hawaii. I will have my paintbrush cleaned and ready to create yet another masterpiece...