Jonathan Goulet: Freddie DeFreitas | Sherdog.com
Heading into the cage in Montreal last Saturday night, Jonathan Goulet knew that the fight in front of him could be his last. He really didn’t think it would be -- in fact, he deeply wished it wouldn’t -- but in the end, it was.
Inside the Centre Pierre-Charbonneau, at Ringside MMA’s “Payback,” Goulet met fellow Canadian Chris Clements in a bout for the promotion’s vacant welterweight title. The first round went well for Goulet, who scored multiple takedowns and even threatened with a rear-naked choke toward the end of the period. Then, a minute into the second round, came a sequence of events which was all too familiar to Goulet’s career.
“I just made a mistake and I received a hit behind the head, but that wasn’t the fault of Chris,” Goulet told Sherdog.com on Monday. “I just turned my head on the wrong side and I got hit, and I fell, face-first, onto the canvas.”
A hard one-two combination from Clements had left Goulet unconscious on the mat, where he remained for a few tense minutes before coming to his senses. Despite having been punched out in nine of his 12 professional losses, Goulet called the knockout the worst he’d ever suffered.
Six months earlier and just a few miles away, Goulet fought fellow veteran Marcus Davis on the undercard of UFC 113. After starting strong in that bout as well, the French Canadian was floored by an uppercut and finished by Davis in the second round. It was then that the 31-year-old Victoriaville native first began to ponder his retirement from MMA.
“The Davis fight wasn’t bad like my last fight, but I got knocked down, and me and my girlfriend talked about it. I decided if I got knocked down again, that was going to be the end of my career,” said Goulet. “So, I just hung up my gloves. I didn’t think about doing this or that -- that was the end.”
“I was wishing to win for four or five more years. I wanted to retire at 35,” he added.
Nicknamed “The Road Warrior” for his early-career tendency to make long-distance, short-notice solo trips to fight around Canada, Goulet leaves the sport with a record of 23 wins, 12 losses and one no contest. A nine-time veteran of the UFC, Goulet made his Zuffa debut in October 2005, where he won a gory battle against Jay Hieron via doctor stoppage. Goulet -- a legitimately talented fighter whose chin belied his great technical skills -- holds notable career wins over the likes of John Alessio, Kuniyoshi Hironaka, Shonie Carter and Travis Galbraith.
Unlike so many prizefighters who don’t know when to quit, Goulet is acutely conscious of the dangers of taking one too many concussive blows. Following his May loss to Davis, Goulet underwent laser eye surgery which gave him 20/20 vision for the first time in his life. As such, Goulet has decided to get out while the getting is still good.
“I made the decision not only because of my girlfriend. I also have a daughter. I’m still young. I still have time to be something, to do something so that I can feed them. I can still do something to be able to pay my rent,” Goulet explained. “I’m able to work. I have my legs, my arms. Nothing is broken on me, and even if I got hit really badly, I still have a brain. I’m not a veggie or someone in the hospital.”
Having worked as a carpenter and a bouncer before turning to fighting, Goulet has a few options to fall back on, but says he’d like to try his hand on the small screen first.
“I’d like to work on the sports shows on French TV in Quebec. It will be easier for me because of my English. I will try as hard as I can to get a job in that, but if I can’t, I’ll get a job in construction,” said Goulet. “I like to build houses, but I still have some dreams. I’m a man of passion, so I need to try. If I can’t, I will tell myself at 55, ‘I tried.’”
Financial matters aside, with no fighting in his life, Goulet’s competitive fires will still require stoking. Goulet hopes to fill the void by returning to traditional Brazilian jiu-jitsu training with Bruno Fernandes and the team at Gracie Barra Montreal.
“I haven’t trained in the gi for so many years. I’m still a blue belt, but I’m pretty sure that without the gi on, I’m more than a blue belt. I just wanna graduate in jiu-jitsu and try to have a black belt,” Goulet said. “It will take years, but at the same time, I will be able to compete. I’m a sportsman. I need the adrenaline rush from competition, and I think, for me, jiu-jitsu competition will be great. It wouldn’t be risky like MMA.”
While countless fighters have prematurely announced their withdrawl from the sport, Goulet appears resolute in his decision that this is the end of the road.
“It’s enough getting hit for me. It’s really enough. I think even if I get my black belt, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t come back , because we only have one brain. I have new eyes, but I can’t have a new brain.”