There is something to be said for the risk that fighters put themselves under each time they enter a ring to fight as professionals. Many of us get caught up in a lot of the facts, statistics, the drama and the whole insular world of professional combat sports, sometimes putting aside the most important aspect of them all; combat sports are a form of entertainment. Professional fighters enter into unarmed combat with another fighter, with the purpose being defeating said opponent in combat. Period. This can lead to a lot of injuries, some worse than others, and some that can affect a fighter for the rest of their lives. If you need an example, Muhammad Ali is a prime example, if anything.
So there is no shock when former UFC, PRIDE and K-1 veteren Gary Goodridge comes out and says that he has suffered a lot of brain damage in his stint as a professional fighter. The effects of combat sports on the athletes is a topic which should be taken far more seriously and get the spotlight more often, as opposed to Dana White's latest twitter tirade or which esteemed member of the fraternity of Mixed Martial Arts media "broke" a story first. Sadly, the world that we live in tends to focus more on the immediate as opposed to the long term, and in MMA and K-1, we will finally see a generation of fighters nearing the age of retirement and how their careers have affected their bodies and minds. Goodridge recently released a tell-all book, and it turns out that he has been diagnosed with Pugilistic Dementia. He spoke with our good friend Jonathan Snowden, and he actually blames K-1 for most of the damage he received in his career.
Far be it from me to doubt the damage that fighters in the stand up world have received, especially under the K-1 banner where the rules are tailor-made for non-stop action, but to simply blame his Kickboxing career for his condition seems rather crass. If you were to analyze Goodridge's K-1 career, his record tells one story, that at 12-24 he did not belong in a K-1 ring. A whopping 14 of those losses were to Knockout, and quite frankly, it is a telling sign that there was something wrong, but on the other hand, Goodridge's MMA career spanned a longer time period and saw him in a similar state of a record of 23-22, with another whopping 10 knockouts to his detriment. It was a seven-loss streak in MMA and a twelve-loss streak in Kickboxing that finally shelved him.
The story that this tells is more a fighter's lack of discretion and needing to be surrounded with realistic people who care enough to tell you it is time to stop. I think it would be unfair to claim that K-1 or MMA fights alone did the damage, but it is a collection of a career of nothing but horrific knockouts that led Goodridge to his condition.
Dave Walsh has been covering MMA and Kickboxing since 2007 before changing his focus solely to Kickboxing in 2009, launching what was the only English-language site dedicated to giving Kickboxing similar coverage to what MMA receives. He was the co-founder of HeadKickLegend and now LiverKick. He resides in Albuquerque, New Mexico where he works as a writer of all trades.
His second novel, Terminus Cycle, is available now via Kindle and Paperback.
Dave (a) LiverKick dot com | @dvewlshWebsite: www.dvewlsh.com