Like Richard Nixon, mixed martial arts trainer Juanito Ibarra swears he's not a crook.
He's suing former Orange County-based Ultimate Fighting Championship stars Quinton "Rampage" Jackson and Tito Ortiz to save his reputation. Actually, Ibarra has two suits going—one against both ex-fighters and the other only naming Jackson—and a judge said Thursday she'll manage both cases but will not consolidate them for one trial.
The suits stem from things Ladera Ranch's Jackson and Huntington Beach's Ortiz said in interviews about Ibarra, who trained Rampage as well as more than 15 world champions and several Olympic gold medalists.
In a September 2008 interview with a British media outlet, Jackson called Ibarra a "thief" and a "liar" and said the trainer used his Christian faith to take advantage of people, according to the lawsuit filed in June 2009 Los Angeles Superior Court. Jackson is further alleged to have made similar remarks about Ibarra to people within the UFC community, including a claim that his former trainer caused $30,000 in camp money to "disappear."
The same suit points to a September 2008 interview Ortiz gave to PunchDrunkGamer.com reporter David Carpinello, who was also told Ibarra was a "thief" who had "taken advantage of Rampage" financially.
The second suit alleges that in an October 2012 online interview, Jackson called Ibarra a "crook" who stole money from his fighters. Both complaints allege defamation, false light invasion of privacy and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
Jackson has filed cross-complaints against Ibarra in both cases claiming his former trainer broke a promise made at the time they parted ways to not sue each other. His lawyers, meanwhile, have indicated Ibarra has only chosen select quotes from the interviews, which should be considered in full context.
Ortiz gave a sworn declaration where he claimed his remarks were not defamatory but an example of "the hyperbolic trash talk which is common in my sport."
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A lawyer for the "Bad Boy of Huntington Beach" tried to get the parts of the case against Ortiz dismissed in 2009, but Judge Zaven Sinanian rejected that argument, finding the statements involved business dealings and not the usual UFC hyperbole.
Now, as City News Service reports, Judge Barbara Scheper has ruled that it would be prejudicial to Ibarra to have the trial in the first case delayed any further and that the potential harm to him outweighed any concerns about trying some of the same issues twice.
July 14 was set as the trial date for the first case.