This is both painfully sad and painfully obvious. Gary Goodridge has spent the last two years on an 0-8 MMA / 0-5 Kickboxing losing streak and while ‘only’ five ended with knockouts, many of the fights came with horrific beatings attached. The rest of his 15 year fight career had a slightly more palatable win/loss ratio but was still highlighted by brutal brawls. So it’s not much of a suprise to hear that Gary’s now suffering from a bunch of brain trauma issues:
Still quick with a joke, Goodridge can recall his fights in painstaking detail. But he sometimes stumbles over words, and often repeats himself because he simply forgets what he’s just said.
His drug regimen is suited to an Alzheimer’s patient, and that’s no accident. After 85 combined kickboxing and MMA bouts, many of them poorly regulated, Goodridge at times feels much older than 45.
“My brain,” he says, “doesn’t remember much these days.”
Goodridge fought until last December because he needed the cash and because small-time promoters needed a big name, even if it meant ignoring glaring signs of cognitive decline. Friends say his speech, memory and co-ordination have deteriorated steadily since at least 2006. Twice weekly, Goodridge attends Brain Injury Services in Barrie, where staff administer tests and memory drills meant to preserve cognitive function as his brain atrophies.
Goodridge’s upcoming biography, Gatekeeper, discusses his brain damage in detail. The author, Mark Dorsey, hasn’t seen photos of Goodridge’s brain, and isn’t sure he wants to.
“It’s one of those silent killers and the evidence builds up slowly,” he says. “But I guarantee that if you look at his brain it’s got major dark spots and looks like an Alzheimer’s patient.”
The article ties Gary’s situation into questions surrounding brain trauma in MMA. UFC Canada head Tom Wright says the promotion is getting involved in a three year study that will hopefully shed some light on the effects of the sport on the brain. It will be interesting to learn where the cutoff is and when athletic commissions need to step in and stop a fighter from badly damaging their brain. One thing is for sure – taking a look at Gary Goodridge’s record, someone should have stepped in a long time ago.