by Korey Howard
The second meeting in a K-1 ring between Jerome Le Banner and Gary Goodridge was billed as this card’s battle of big punchers. Having lost to Le Banner by first round KO in the elimination round of the K-1 GP three years ago, “Big Daddy” was looking to dish out a bit of what he had received before.
The match certainly lived up to its billing. But unfortunately for Goodridge, the only big punches came from Le Banner, and the result was the same as it was in their first match – a first round KO for the Frenchman.
Le Banner came out of the gate quickly, mixing in hard low kicks with aggressive punches. Goodridge, on the other hand, looked defensive and sluggish in the early going and went down for the first time at 1 minute 12 seconds after eating a right high kick followed by a right / left one-two punch to the head. Le Banner poured on the pressure after Big Daddy got up, and sent him to the mat again at the 1 minute 47 second mark, this time after a left / right to the head followed by a bruising left low kick. Le Banner’s north/south attack continued, with him landing low and high kicks, and solid punches with both hands. The match ended mercifully at 2 minutes 13 seconds from by a right hook.
Post-fight, Jerome said, “Gary helped me train for one of my MMA fights, so I didn’t want to fight so aggressively. But I had to go for the win, so this is how it turned out. I’m satisfied with the result.”
Naturally, one would think it would be tough to fight a friend. When Goodridge was asked if that’s why he looked so lackluster, he replied, “I’m a professional. I had difficulty with the idea of fighting him before the fight, but once the bell rang, it wasn’t a problem at all. What happened is, I got stage fright for the first time in my career, and my body didn’t move the way I wanted it to. I lost our first fight by punches and didn’t want to make the same mistake again, but I knew it wouldn’t go three rounds. . . I just froze.”
It’s been three years since Le Banner went to the Grand Prix championship match, where he lost to Ernesto Hoost. It will be interesting to see how far his big punching will take him this time.