"I'm pissed off. I'm fed up. I want my money," said the 44-year-old Goodridge. "Of course, you're like any other fighter at first, you stay quiet. You think, I stake my reputation and my whole career with these people. Of course they're gonna pay. Of course they're gonna pay, since my whole livelihood came from them in the last 13 years. Now it's eight months and it's quite obvious I'm not getting paid. So I'm going to open my mouth now."
Goodridge, who accepted the New Year's Eve bout on less than a week's notice, made no secret of the fact that he was only taking the fight for financial reasons. After losing via first-round TKO at the Saitama Super Arena, he told reporters that he was looking for a full-time job so he could get out of the fight game for good.
"I was going broke looking for a job," Goodridge said in this SI.com story shortly after the New Year's Eve fight. "I got a load of bills that need paying. When I got the call [to fight Mousasi] I thought, 'Thank God.' Now I can pay some bills."
Only now it's August and the $30,000 Goodridge said he was promised by FEG, the parent company of both Dream and K-1, hasn't materialized. Calls to FEG have gone unanswered and unreturned, Goodridge said, and so far the organization has seemed content to ignore him altogether.
"They just won't respond to any emails," said Goodridge's manager, Steve Rusich, who stressed that he did not book this particular fight for Goodridge. "We had a lawyer contact them and they wouldn't respond to him, either. We've heard nothing. Not, 'I'll pay you later.' Not, 'Can you give us some time and I'll give you a little something to tide you over.' Nothing. Zero response," Rusich added.
Rusich acknowledged that getting paid for fights in Japan, where there are no athletic commissions to ensure that promoters make good on their promises, sometimes takes as long as 60 or even 90 days. But never before has he had a fighter who didn't get paid at all, Rusich said.
"Japan has these other rules, but they pay a little more so we accept it. I find myself fronting money to my fighters sometimes because I trust that FEG always comes through. [FEG USA representative] Mike Kogan is fantastic. He always comes through. But in Gary's case, I don't know. It's a bad deal, because he was in some hard times where he just couldn't afford to float the money, let alone not get it at all."
Kogan told MMA Fighting on Wednesday afternoon that he didn't personally handle Goodridge's contract for the New Year's Eve fight, but would check with the FEG offices in Japan to find out what the situation was. As of the time of this writing, there's been no further response from FEG.
Calls to several other fighters on the same fight card also went unreturned, though Goodridge claims he's not the only one who has yet to receive his show money from the New Year's Eve event.
Even after declaring himself "done" following the Mousasi fight, Goodridge has continued taking fights in small promotions because, as he puts it, he has no other way to earn a living.
"Everybody is against it. I'm 44 years old. I should not fight again. I know I shouldn't. But I have to get paid. I'm trying to get a job. But in the meantime I have to get paid, and people take advantage of you."
The way Goodridge sees it, his current predicament with FEG only highlights the need for some form of athletic commission or regulatory body to oversee the Japanese MMA scene.
"You need athletic commissions, because here's a company I've worked for pretty much my entire career. And I've worked for the Japanese public my entire career. 99% of my career has been spent working with the Japanese, and now they screw me like this? I left my family, went all the way over there on New Year's Eve to fight for them for nothing? Come on. I'm worth a little more than that."