Report: Rampage Jackson splits with Juanito Ibarra; UFC looking towards November fight with Silva


After Rampage Jackson’s police chase hit and run incident in Costa Mesa, much speculation was going on in the MMA circles that he had split with his manager and trainer Juanito Ibarra. Josh Gross is now reporting that as fact in his new SI.com article:

With defeat as the impetus, Jackson responded to rough terrain by relieving the trainer of his duties, though “bottom line, somehow, someway it all involves money,” said the fighter’s friend.

Something major must have happened between these two for Jackson to drop Ibarra. Jackson gave almost all the credit for his rebirth as an elite light heavyweight in the UFC to Ibarra’s teachings, not only about the fight game but about spirituality as well. Numerous times Jackson has been quoted as saying that he owes everything he has now to Juanito and that Ibarra truly turned his life around. Whether it’s money, rash decisions, the loss to Forrest Griffin, or a combination of these and other factors, it’s a truly sad state of affairs that these two have had a falling out.

Not only does Gross report on that issue, but also gets some insight into Rampage’s current condition and the condition that he was in at the time of the arrest from an anonymous friend:

Rampage demanded silence when he wasn’t offering words of faith. He spoke of a “wolf in sheep’s clothing” and people aligned with the devil.

“Mentally he wasn’t there,” said the source. “It was almost as if he was possessed. He heard voices. He thought he was a God.”

Three days later, rested and nourished, Rampage was reunited with friends.

“He would still make comments that were slightly weird,” said Jackson’s longtime associate. “You could tell that he wasn’t all the way there, but each day you could tell he was better.”

Against lawyers’ advice, Jackson has gone out several times. Fan requests for autographs at a local mall have been happily fulfilled. His only other trips are to outpatient treatment, which he attends daily.

“He knows what he went through,” said the source. “He knew he had an emotional breakdown that led to a mental breakdown. Not eating and not sleeping kind of helped with that.”

The piece goes on to say that if things continue to go well for Jackson that the UFC is interested in having him fight on a card in November against Wanderlei Silva for the third time in their storied careers. Silva is one fighter that has had Rampage’s number, defeating him twice in PRIDE. The second defeat is widely known as one of the most vicious beatdowns in MMA history. All I know is, for someone who has been on such a mental rollercoaster ride in the past two weeks, even fighting this year seems to be a stretch. The number one priority, for Jackson and the UFC, should be getting Jackson mentally healthy.

I think a fight against Silva is a fight we’d all like to see, as I think Rampage is a much better fighter than the last time the two fought and it would be another classic battle, but I’m willing to wait until Jackson is in prime shape physically and mentally so we can see the best Rampage possible inside the cage. I think November may be rushing it for as serious as his illness seems to be, and Dana White even said he thought it would be awhile before we saw Rampage back inside the cage. I just hope, for their sake and his, that they take things seriously and don’t push him into something that he’s not mentally ready for.

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