Former UFC light heavyweight champions Quinton “Rampage” Jackson and Tito Ortiz have been friends for over a decade. They’ve been training partners, and at one time, they said they would never fight each other.
Times have changed. Their friendship is intact, but the two no longer train together and are going to fight.
Ortiz and Jackson will headline Bellator MMA’s first ever pay-per-view on Nov. 2, and Jackson says there’s always been a bit of a secret rivalry between the two.
When Jackson was making his way up the ranks in Japan with the Pride organization, Ortiz was the reigning UFC 205-pound champion. The two began training together at Ortiz’ gym in California under the direction of Colin Oyama.
“I trained with Tito for years and I can tell secretly there's been a little competition between me and Tito. I remember when I first started training with him and Ricco Rodriguez, they used to kick my ass all the time and stuff like that. They used to enjoy it,” said Jackson during a press conference on Monday.
“And then I started getting a little bit better and me and Tito started going at it a little bit harder and stuff like that. And there's always been little times when me and Tito went at it in training. We went at it before a couple of times in training,” explained Jackson.
The two have fought countless times behind closed doors, in private, but when they face off on Nov. 2, it will not be a sparring or workout session. This time, it will be for real.
“There's been a couple times at Big Bear and me and Tito had some battles that people would never see. And now it's going to come out in the cage and in front of everybody,” said Jackson. “And so, yes, it's going to be tough fighting a good friend like Tito, but at the end of the day, I trust that Tito wants to put on a good show for the fans because that's what he is, he's a showman and I'm a showman.”