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Read This Now: “Rampage”

The December issue of The Atlantic includes David Samuels’ profile of "Rampage" Jackson leading up to and following his July bout with Forrest Griffin.  It is perhaps the best in-depth, mainstream coverage of a UFC fighter that we’ve seen yet, and it couldn’t come at a more interesting time in Jackson’s life. 

The profile piece follows Jackson through a training camp with Juanito Ibarra, to fight night, to the delirium-fueled run from the cops, to the aftermath.  There are so many interesting insights into the life and mind of the former champ that it would be pointless to recap them all (which is why you should just read the damn thing), but here’s a taste that’s especially telling, knowing what we know now:

After a particularly humiliating loss in Japan during which the newly born-again Jackson was publicly berated by his corner men before being taken to the hospital with broken ribs, Ibarra called the fighter and offered to train him. “I kept hearing through the gyms that Rampage went crazy because he found Jesus Christ,” Ibarra remembers. The trainer shared his own experience of being born again, which followed the soul-crushing ordeal of losing the fighter Oscar de la Hoya, who went on to become boxing’s richest fighter under the tutelage of another trainer. What Rampage lacked was exactly what Ibarra had to teach—technique, control, and an older man’s knowledge of the fight game. Ibarra’s plan involved building up Jackson’s skills to the point where he could win and keep a championship while creating a network of profit-participation deals that would make both men rich. “He has his own rims out now and his own energy drink, his own toy, and we’ve got some other things in the works,” Ibarra explains. “No one uses his name without paying big bucks.”

And don’t worry, we even get up inside Dana White’s head a little.  Check out what’s after the jump, for instance.

After the loss to Griffin, Samuels sees Dana White pull Juanito Ibarra aside for a little chat.  Later he tries to find out what was said between the two of them:

“I’m not a Juanito fan,” he says. “He was mad because what he said, on the countdown show, he said, ‘I’ll fucking retire if Forrest Griffin beats Rampage Jackson.’ And fucking one of the dudes called him on it. One of the cut men said, ‘Are you retiring now, motherfucker?’”

“He does love his fighters, though,” I answer. “That’s one good thing about him.”

“I hope he does,” White answers. “If Rampage goes on a skid—let’s say he goes on a skid now. He lost this fight tonight, and he loses four more after it. And is kicked out of the UFC, retires from fighting. Right? Is Juanito gonna be with him for the rest of his life? I dunno. What do you think?”

I don’t know those guys well enough, I respond.

White looks at me hard.

“Nobody knows anybody well enough,” he answers.

And just wait until you hear Dana White’s justification of fighter pay, merchandising deals, and what he thinks of matching Rampage up against Silva at such a volatile time in his life.  Seriously.  Read it.


Cagepotato Comments

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Reid- December 3, 2008 at 1:43 pm
Great article. One of the best about MMA I've read.
Dana's Consiouse- December 3, 2008 at 12:51 pm
Wow that was a good read! Wow I came off like an arse didn't I ?
Jeff- December 3, 2008 at 9:04 am
That was SO worth the read... Great find CP, thank you!!!

My favorite part was his description of Jenna Jameson's eyes. That was poetic.
Jay- December 3, 2008 at 8:57 am
That was awesome. The last part makes Rampage look like a fucking nut though. Anyone heard what Ibarra's been doing since this whole fiasco?
Anonymous- December 3, 2008 at 8:55 am
Funny; during the interview with Arianny regarding her facial expression, the interviewer totally disses her:

DS: Did your facial expression when you walk around take a lot of practice?

AC: No.

DS: It’s a very distinctive expression.

AC: Really? What do you mean? I’m a very hard to read kind of person.

DS: I guess it’s just your personality coming through, then. You look totally blank.
Hebrew Hammerfist- December 3, 2008 at 6:54 am
This whole Ibarra-Rampage saga reminds me of Rocky V.... Tommy Morrison and George Washington Duke.

Only their race and mentality are reversed.
Fenix- December 3, 2008 at 6:29 am
Awesome article! Gave me goosebumps...

Thanks for the heads up CP!
Da Truth- December 3, 2008 at 5:57 am
It just seems a bit sad to me that here is another guy whos obvious mental illness is not treated but turned into 'religion' the entire story of god and the devil fighting over him and the 'voices' is paranoid schizophrenia... he needs to drop his 'belief' and go and get some real help before something even worse happens. More people are murdered by family members under the influence of 'god' than any drug. And yeah D 'fucktard' W is the biggest piece of shit on the planet right now.
Giant Douche- December 3, 2008 at 2:48 am
I don,t believe Page was just fasting.Where I come from people who act like that
are usually having trouble with amphetamine!
Anonymous- December 3, 2008 at 2:37 am
... If I had to help a guy take a leak I might be skimming money too.
Anonymous- December 3, 2008 at 2:36 am
I just felt like the author was trying to be Hunter S. Thompson and failing.
Anonymous- December 3, 2008 at 1:44 am
the Lorenzo article is very interesting too.

man, rampage is a nutcase..
Dex- December 2, 2008 at 9:51 pm
I swear that changed my mind about this fight, I think Rampage has a shot now. LOL. Good article, long, but good.

Mescan_Judo- December 2, 2008 at 9:07 pm
Thanks for the link to the Rampage article. Very good, interesting read.
mike`- December 2, 2008 at 8:17 pm
i like this author
mike`- December 2, 2008 at 8:16 pm
i like this author
vrax- December 2, 2008 at 8:15 pm
That was a good read, but the style is so pretentious and overdone as to be a caricature of itself, even as it attempts to point out the similar flaws in White's wardrobe, and Jameson's choices in body art.

It wasn't a good read because of the overactive use of simile or sense of self-important detachment, but for the insight into the bare honesty of the fighter's life. For that, it was golden, and I'm happy to have seen it.
Anonymous- December 2, 2008 at 7:26 pm
Thanks for the links. Some good stuff in there
Anonymous- December 2, 2008 at 5:51 pm
I read it.

Well, the writers demographic is probably people who can read, who like MMA, and are not 14 years old and think they can fight anyone over the internet.

Mike M.

sodak- December 2, 2008 at 5:32 pm
wow! good article, reiterates danas a piece a shit after page getts robbed by the judges, finds out a close personal friends stealing from him, then goes on a four day no sleep bender n catches some cases you make him immediately fight the toughest guy in the division a guy whos KOd him twice, classy. good descriptive article the lines "It’s like she is looking into an arctic hell where the sun never shines" and "Lytle staggers around the blood-drenched canvas like a slaughtered cow" were a lil over the top tho n made me laugh
CubicalGangster- December 2, 2008 at 5:19 pm
definitely worth it.
Imbecile- December 2, 2008 at 5:02 pm
I can't believe I am so interested in MMA that I would actually read some piece of trash in The Atlantic! The author sucks, but it is nice to see a decent, in-depth article on MMA that isn't framed completely from a standpoint of trying to understand this human cockfighting. Interesting read. Not great, but interesting.
Kissenger- December 2, 2008 at 4:56 pm
Also, there are several excellent interviews (with BJ, Lorenzo, and Arianny) from the same journalist on the same site.



Kissenger- December 2, 2008 at 4:49 pm
That was an excellent read. I'm looking forward to the Rampage-Silva fight more than any other fight coming up. I'll be pulling for Rampage so hard (even though I quite like Silva).
BeefHouse- December 2, 2008 at 4:49 pm
That was a great read. Samuels called it as he seen it. Dana looking like an A&F poser, Tito getting fat, Jenna looking like a cross between a scarecrow and a skank, Chucks beer gut and poor manners in regards to being somewhere on time, other writers smoking the drugs, even Bruce with his weird face and hair.

I like that balls out honesty. He might have burnt a bridge or two with that article but I'm a fan of his writing now. Good Job CageTater. Thanks for pointing this one out.

And to anyone else. If you're an MMA fan. This is well worth the read.