We’re about five years past the point where the pioneers of MMA could still compete at a top level. Of course, that means it will still take another five to ten years before these guys finally admit they can’t hack it and retire. Guys like Kimo, Ken Shamrock, Royce Gracie, Dan Severn, Don Frye, Gary Goodridge, Mark Coleman … the list goes on and on.
These guys birthed mixed martial arts from deep in the bowels of Indian casinos across America, making a pittance over years of true no holds barred competition. Actually, I hear the money was pretty good back then … they probably blew the money on whores and coke. Regardless, I assume the main reason these guys refuse to quit is because they need the cash. And so long as there are promoters in Japan who have no issue putting 45+ year olds in the ring, it’s not likely to stop.
Well, at least not for most of the names above. But one fighter who’s basically made it clear he’s on the way out is ‘Big Daddy’ Gary Goodridge. Gary’s knockout of Paul Herrera at UFC 8 is still considered one of the most brutal KOs in the history of sports, up there with God’s slam of Jake Brown. But after being fed to some of the top names in K1 like Remy Bonjasky, Peter Aerts and Hong Man Choi, Gary’s had enough:
“Now I’m looking for a job and start another chapter in my life, like all of the other aging fighters very soon. You come to a certain point in time where you have to do something else. I’ve reached that point and I’ve just gotta step into it properly and hit the ground running rather that hit the ground crawling.”
It’s really too bad there’s no place for an aging fighter in MMA except on the wrong end of a marketing scheme to get new fighters over. We should be putting these guys into a Hall of Fame, not into a meat grinder. At the very least, we should be putting them against eachother. Or maybe not, considering how bad Maurice Smith vs Marcos Rua was. Still, I know I’d sleep better at night knowing Dan Severn isn’t out turning tricks after missing his win bonus. Surely there’s some kind of happy medium where these guys aren’t sucking dick for rent or being smashed in the ring repeatedly?