There’s no denying it, Juanito Ibarra, Quinton Jackson’s former trainer, has been going through some rough times since Rampage fired him following the Forrest Griffin loss. Not only did he lose his biggest client and someone who referred to as his “son,” his reputation was dragged through the mud by allegations that he had taken money from Jackson. Not too long thereafter, his clients started jumping ship, and now he’s seemingly left with nothing in mixed martial arts. The question is, is it warranted? Did he actually overcharge Jackson by $30,000 for his training camp as Tito Ortiz alleges? Is there more to this story?
There still aren’t concrete answers to those questions, but Ibarra has at least finally spoken out. In an interview with SI.com’s Josh Gross, Ibarra gives his side of the story.
SI.com: After Rampage lost, can you describe what happened with your relationship?
Ibarra: Yesterday is a cancelled check, today is cash in hand, tomorrow is a promissory note. All I know is that I gave the kid all that I’ve had, like he’s my own son. I loved him. Since then I haven’t talked to Rampage.
SI.com: Speaking with people in his camp, and hearing what Tito Ortiz said about the cost of a camp and money being taken, there are questions about whether you overcharged Jackson, or took money from him. Are you denying those allegations?
Ibarra: I’ve never done anything I wasn’t asked to do, and that’s it. I would never take anything from anybody without them giving it to me. Never.
SI.com: Why do you believe your relationship with Quinton fell apart?
Ibarra: I don’t know. 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.
It’s interesting that Ibarra denies taking money from Jackson, but doesn’t deny overcharging him. As I’ve said before if Ibarra was overcharging Jackson by nearly double and taking advantage of Jackson’s trust in him, then yes, he deserves what’s happened.
There’s other sides of this to consider as well though before we just throw Ibarra to the wolves. Ibarra does come from the boxing world, where I can only imagine the cost to train to is much higher than MMA for high-profile fighters. Is it possible Ibarra was just charging what he’s always charged for his clients without thinking twice about it? Wouldn’t have Jackson noticed that he was being overcharged by double long before he did? It just seems like the problem of being overcharged $30,000 is a problem that would never happen if those involved were paying any sort of attention to what was going on.
Ibarra also addressed claims by Jackson’s new team, Wolfslair, that he had a poor relationship with the UFC.
I think I had a great working relationship with the UFC. There are a lot of fantastic people in that organization. There are also some guys that aren’t so fantastic. I’ve been through the boxing game and the MMA game … I know who’s who. But I’m a manager/trainer. I’ll always go to bat for my fighter. That’s my job. If a promoter wants to make things hard on me, that’s his own choice to do that.
Having a manager that is all buddy-buddy with the promoter doesn’t exactly equate into the best interests of the fighter, so it was actually probably a good thing that Ibarra didn’t have the perfect relationship with the UFC. Managers and agents certainly don’t have to take it to the Mark Dion burning bridges level, but they should be pushing hard to get the best possible deal for their client.
While we’re on the topic of Rampage, MMAJunkie.com is reporting that Jackson has begun preparations to fight Wanderlei Silva at UFC 91.
Sources within Jackson’s new camp at the Wolfslair Academy tell MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) that Jackson has agreed to the Nov. 15 bout and has already begun a six-week fight camp with the U.K.-based team.
However, the UFC has yet to announce the bout, and neither fighter could publicly confirm the match-up.
Last we heard, the UFC was just waiting on signatures. It’s not clear if that’s still pending and holding up the announcement or if it’s something else.