Former PRIDE FC and K-1 star Gary Goodridge may no longer be competing in mixed martial arts, but that doesn't mean the 46-year-old bruiser isn't still fighting on a daily basis. His new opponents?
Slurred speech and prescription pain killers.
Indeed, according to a report from MMAWeekly.com, Goodridge was recently diagnosed with early onset CTE/pugilistic dementia stemming from his long career of taking shots to the head both inside the ring and outside it during training and various sparring sessions.
Between MMA and kickboxing, Goodridge has amassed a staggering 80+ fights to his name since 1996. Unfortunately his career ended in a serious decline, as the Canadian was forced into retirement following seven consecutive losses dating back to March 2007.
But despite his sickness and declining health, he doesn't regret a single second of it.
"I have no regrets. I love the way I live my life, I mean I would like to make little changes, but no, I have no regrets. I loved the way my life was, I lived a good life, and I'm happy with what I did."
As surprising as that may be, it's perhaps even more surprising that Goodridge doesn't actually blame MMA for his troubles. Actually, he says K-1 is the main culprit for his condition.
"I would like to share with people, but I think most of my damage came from K-1. MMA really wasn't an issue because there's hardly any shots to the head. 90-percent of my injuries came from K-1, where there's nothing but head trauma, head injuries over and over again."
Goodridge, regrettably, may not have found himself in a unique situation.
Brain injuries stemming from repeated head trauma have been receiving more attention as the sport of MMA continues its global expansion, even prompting some fans to disassociate themselves with the sport.
Because MMA is evolving so rapidly and fans (and the medical community) are still running to catch up, it may take several years for damage incurred today to show its lasting effects and long-term consequences.
Gary may not blame MMA and it may, in fact, be safer than K-1, seeing as the focus isn't completely on repeated trauma to the head. But there's no doubt the sport is dangerous for those who choose to partake in it.
There are no clear-cut answers, but as Goodridge has shown, it may get worse before it gets better.