Juanito Ibarra Tells His Side of Rampage Split

Written by Tom Ngo
September 17th, 2008

The former trainer of Quinton “Rampage” Jackson is finally speaking out on the accusations that have been pinned on him, as well as his continued confusion as to why the former UFC champion decided to end their three year relationship after winning the UFC light heavyweight title and posting a 6-1 record together. It is now Rampage’s former spiritual leader’s turn to speak.

It has been two and a half months since Rampage lost his title to Forrest Griffin at UFC 86, and two months since he led Costa Mesa police on a chase after committing a hit and run. Ibarra hasn’t spoken to the man that he says he loved like, “his own son,” since the loss. In fact, Rampage won’t even give Ibarra the time of day.

“If he and I could have spoken; I wish he would accept me and sit down with me,” Ibarra told Josh Gross of SI.com. “But, you know, people around him — his advisors, etc. — said that that wasn’t going to happen.”

When asked why a man that used to look at Ibarra as a father figure refuses to speak with him, well, Ibarra is still searching for those answers himself.

“I don’t know,” Ibarra states about the split. “It’s a mystery. If I had the hours to sit down with him, it would be great. I never had that opportunity. He’s doing other things, and God bless him. Hopefully I helped him in his life, in his career, and so be it. I have to move on.”

One explanation that is circling around the MMA circuit is that Rampage and Co. feel that his former trainer took advantage of the fighter, overcharging for fighting camps and possibly taking a little more on the side than what he was revealing.

Just last week, former UFC lightweight champion and Rampage training partner, Tito Ortiz, spoke out about Ibarra’s deceit, stating that the former trainer “ripped off” Rampage, and that Ibarra “betrayed” Rampage’s trust, and because of this Ibarra is blackballed from MMA and the UFC.

“I’ve never done anything I wasn’t asked to do, and that’s it, “ Ibarra stated regarding his innocence. “I would never take anything from anybody without them giving it to me. Never.”

Ibarra is adamant that he never took or charged more than what was fair from Rampage, however he seems to agree with Ortiz about being on the outs with the MMA community.

“I think I had a great working relationship with the UFC. There are a lot of fantastic people in that organization,“ stated Ibarra. “There are also some guys that aren’t so fantastic…If a promoter wants to make things hard on me, that’s his own choice to do that.”

Last Friday, another MMA fighter, UFC heavyweight Cheick Kongo, decided to part ways with Ibarra. Kongo left Ibarra’s tutelage and joined Team Wolfslair, which trains out of the UK. Coincidentally, that is where Rampage now calls home.

“We’re no longer together,” Ibarra said about Kongo’s departure. “He’s been asked by his fellow workout-mates to come join what they’re doing, and they were going to make it hard for him if he didn’t. I don’t want to stop no one from growing. They can grow with me or they can grow with somebody else.”

There are always three sides to every story, and in this case, it is going to be very hard for Ibarra to gain any sympathy. Perhaps Ibarra will fade into the MMA sunset, never to be heard from again. At least for his sake, he got to tell his side of the story before he vanishes.

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