Hey Buzz Fans, as we all know it’s February 1st, and that is the very beginning of Black History Month. I think it’s appropriate to appreciate the very best black MMA fighters of all time. The beautiful thing about this sport is that it is still a relatively young, global sport. We get fighters of all colors, ethnicities, and races from all over the world. I myself have followed this sport since 1991, when it was still banned in some parts of the world.
One of the very first black fighters in MMA was Gary “Big Daddy” Goodridge. Hailing from Barrie, Ontario, Canada, before he ever entered the sport of MMA and kickboxing, he was a top contender in the world of professional arm wrestling. His nationality was Trinidadian/Canadian, coming in at 6’3 and over 250 pounds, Goodridge was a pioneer for black fighters in MMA and kickboxing. He started kickboxing first and would take what he learned from the sport over to the world of MMA – where he became one of the first black stars in the young sport. Not to mention, he was the Canadian Boxing SuperHeavyweight Champion.
He made his UFC debut all the way back at the UFC 8 event, when it was still a one night, round robin tournament. Going into the UFC Goodridge only had boxing credentials and one months of actual martial arts training. He made it all the way to the semi finals to fight another MMA legend in Don Frye, as he would again in the upcoming UFC 9, he would lose to Frye on both efforts. After his two tours with the UFC, he would travel to Brazil and win the International Vale Tudo Tournament on July 6th 1997. From there he would go to the promotion that I think he made as famous as the promotion made him – Pride Fighting Championship, based out of Japan. Here, Goodridge would go on to fight some of the greatest fighters to ever compete in MMA. Beating guys like Oleg Taktorov and Valentijn Overeem, and fighting legends like Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Jerry Bohlander, and even the great Fedor Emelianko. His official retirement match was against old friend and competitor, Don Frye, where he beat Frye with a massive head kick. Goodridge would go on to compete in kickboxing tournaments after his Pride days and would also write an autobiography “GateKeeper: The Fighting Life Of Gary “Big Daddy” Goodridge.”
Today, Goodridge is diagnosed with CTE but is still around to this day. In my opinion, Gary Goodridge is just one of the many MMA legends that helped pave the way for the fighters today. Enabling them to make the money they make and live the lifestyles they live; he should be remembered as a fighter to have opened the doors to several other black fighters who have since entered the MMA world.
Thanks Gary “Big Daddy” Goodridge for everything you’ve done for the sport of MMA.