For those who watch the UFC on "BT Sport" you may have seen John Gooden a few times. He has called for a few promotions, such as Cage Warriors, and I am looking forward to his debut almost as much as the Guillard and Gustafsson fights. Moving forward he and Dan Hardy will call fights in Europe, Middle East and Africa. Ariel Helwani had him on the MMA Hour, you can watch the full interview around the 01:09:00 mark
Gooden on his classy apparel
In the UK the sport gets a pretty bad wrap. The associations aren't necessarily positive. So, I decided we need to smarten this up. A few of my colleagues were doing. My wife said to me 'you like wearing some neck attire'... Since then, I've used the bow tie and I feel comfortable wearing it. It's a bit polarizing to be honest.
Getting the call while working
Around December (2013), it was announced [The UFC] were going to try and put together their own talent team... I rehearsed, had to go through the trial process, work with [Dan Hardy], had some meetings like a normal job and apparently they liked me.
I'm an electrician, essentially. I run a family business with my dad. And I was on a service call... All of a sudden my phone rings. It's the UFC office. That client very much took second best in the moment... When I got that call it was quite an emotional moment and then it hits you just how big this machine is and what's ahead. It's equal parts massively exciting. It's flattering, but there's a big job ahead...
Exclusive with the UFC
(Ariel basically asked if Gooden was done with other MMA promotions)
Well, can't put it like that. I'm not done with them, but the UFC contract that I have means I'm exclusive to the UFC. They don't want me representing any other mixed martial arts outlets... With a wife and a business, there really is no room.
Getting into broadcasting
I actually worked for the BBC for a little while, in production... But, the opportunities didn't come my way. I lost out on a couple of things. I started getting less positive... There's no money in TV... Martial arts has always been a part of my life and I was training with a team. The shows that were coming up on the 'tele' just really cast a bad light on the sport. And I could just tell from the vibe telling people what I enjoy doing, the negative connotations are very much there. So, my coach puts on his own show. I said let me do some presenting in the back or whatever. He said no, but we could do with a commentator. Never really thought about it, but said okay, lets give that a go. Roll on, probably five years, and here we are, I'm calling for the big show.
Martial Arts Background
- Judo at 7. Did regional, national competitions
- Karate with his Uncle, who is a 2nd or 3rd-dan (1-2 ranks above the first 'stage' black belt)
- Amateur boxing, novice, had a few fights on the amateur circuit
- BJJ and Muay Thai
I was never going to be a world champion, Ariel. I'm a broken man, many injuries. So, I lend my skills more to the microphone now.