In a fair world, Jonathan Goulet would be best remembered for his performance at UFC 83.
Goulet was in the opening match of one of the most memorable evenings in mixed martial arts history, the UFC’s debut at Bell Centre in Montreal, the first UFC event ever held in Canada.
The line outside the building extended for blocks hours before the April 19, 2008 card began. Unlike today, when you’re likely to see early prelims unfold in near-empty arenas, a healthy percentage of the announced crowd of 21,390 were in their seats and fired up by the time the show started.
Then Quebec native Goulet and Kuniyoshi Hironaka put on a dazzling show in the welterweight opener. Hironaka nearly finished Goulet in the first round, with Goulet being saved by the horn. Then the TriStar fighter rallied in the second and finished Hironaka via TKO to an ear-splitting reaction from the crowd.
“That was a night I’ll never forget,” Goulet told MMA Junkie. “I was too nervous to think about fighting at Bell Centre and all the people there before the fight, but after the fight, looking out at the fans on my way to the back, that’s when I realized what a big victory this was.”
On an evening that ended with teammate Georges St-Pierre defeating Matt Serra to regain the welterweight crown, it was Goulet who took home “Fight of the Night” honors and became an eternal trivia note as the winner of Canada’s first-ever UFC bout.
But this isn’t always a fair world. And until Saturday night, Goulet was part of another trivia note: For the past 13-plus years, Goulet had been the man on the wrong end of the fastest knockout in UFC history, his six-second loss to Duane Ludwig.
Only on Saturday did Goulet’s name get erased from the record book after Jorge Masvidal needed just five seconds to stop Ben Askren at UFC 239.
And Goulet handled the moment with good humor, posting on Instagram: “I was waiting for that moment since 2006 hahaha.”
But then, Goulet had long since found humor was the best deflection for what, back then, were trolls on the Sherdog message board, which was where sad people went to lash out at others before MMA Twitter.
“I mean, what can you do?” Goulet said. “I would see on the Sherdog forums and on the French language equivalent people saying bad things about me, and one time there was this guy who was making really bad private comments to me, and I was really mad about it.
“Then I realized these people are not worth my time. I decided to laugh at it. Those people who said bad things, they say it because they don’t have a good life maybe.”
If anything, Goulet’s story should offer Askren encouragement as the latter looks to rebound form a devastating loss, the first of his 10-year career. Goulet looked himself in the mirror and made an honest appraisal of what he needed to correct, and began working working on defense and also started working out with the Canadian Olympic wrestling team alongside St-Pierre.
That paid off immediately, as Goulet went out and earned “Fight of the Night” honors at Ultimate Fight Night 5 just five months after the Ludwig loss in a majority decision over Luke Cummo. That started a 6-3 run, which culminated in his most memorable win over Hironaka and also included an eight-second KO win on the regional level.
“It was, well, what am I going to do? Retire?” Goulet said. “No. I knew I had to get right back in, and I had to fix the things that caused it to happen. I’m proud to say I went out there, and I dedicated myself all over again and became a better fighter, and I two times win ‘Fight of the Night.’”
Asked if he had any advice for “Funky” Ben after suffering such a loss – but under a much bigger spotlight – Goulet didn’t hesitate.
“He has to do the same thing,” Goulet said. “Turn a weakness into strength. Ben’s a very good fighter. He had 19 wins before, so obviously he knows what he’s doing. I couldn’t be afraid of getting punched after a loss like that, and Ben, with his wrestling, can’t be afraid of getting hit with the knee. Just go back in there and train and practice and put it behind you.”
Goulet, who turns 40 this week, walked away from the sport after a loss to Chris Clements in 2010. Unlike so many of his contemporaries, Goulet says he never gave a serious thought to making a comeback.
“I miss the cheering of the crowd. You can never have another feeling like that,” Goulet said. “But I have never missed being punched in the face. When I retired, it was five years before I ever even came back to the gym. I went back and got my high school diploma. I went into fighting without getting that. It was important to me to get that and get ready for the rest of my life.”
That’s not to say Goulet is entirely removed from the sport. The Montreal resident is still part of the family at TriStar and teaches their Wimps2Warriors MMA boot camp classes every weekday morning.
And maybe from now on, thanks to Masvidal, Goulet will be asked more about the Hironaka fight than the Ludwig fight.
“In 100 years, a fan in Canada who wants to know who won the first UFC fight in Canada will look and see I won, and that’s amazing to think about,” Goulet said. “It’s good to be remembered. I had a good career.”
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Source: USA Today – MMA Junkie
Read the full article here: No longer wrong end of fastest UFC knockout record, Jonathan Goulet has advice for Ben Askren