If you ask former UFC fighter Dave Roberts why he’s best friends with Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, he won’t hesitate to say the first thing that pops into his mind.
“Well, it’s obviously because he’s black,” deadpans Roberts before breaking into laughter. “You can quote me on that.”
Although it’s a friendship that spanned two successful careers and the creation of their joint gym venture, Rampage Fitness Academy, things got off to a rocky start over a dozen years ago.
“I hated him,” explains Roberts who is currently training at Tiger Muay Thai in Phuket, Thailand. “We were high school wrestling rivals, but our coaches were best friends. I’ll tell you a story that still pisses me off. My junior year I was supposed to be THE MAN then this guy comes along and just man handles me. I couldn’t get him off me.”
Over the years the two developed an especially strong bond, with Roberts becoming more protective of his friend as Jackson began receiving global recognition.
“The sad part about all of this is that you have all these fake people competing for his attention. I see all of it. These posers won’t hurt him, but I will say something if they try. We lead more separate lives now, but we still have the same common goal – to take over the world!”
While it’s clear that Roberts has an enormous amount of respect for Jackson, it’s also clear that he won’t hold back when it comes to dishing out embarrassing stories from their youth.
“I used to take my dad’s pick-up so we could sneak into this club when he was legal and I was still underage,” begins Roberts, who fought in UFC 20 at just 18 years old with Jackson in his corner.
“It was called Denim and Diamonds…really…one side was hip hop and one side was country. We’d make up these wrestling dance moves and clear the dance floor. We’d do arm drags and hip toss each other. Yes, that stuff really happened.”
It was Roberts who encouraged Rampage to try MMA after he was kicked out of college for fighting and it was Roberts who went with him to ACE Hardware to measure out some of his first signature chains.
When Roberts decided to run away to California in 2000 to continue in his dream of fighting professionally, there was only one person to call when he got there.
Rampage arrived 35 hours later after a 27 hour road trip cross country – neither of them realizing the incredible impact those decisions would have on their lives.
While Roberts is quick to point out the successes of others, he’s more humble when it comes to his own. In an hour-long interview he didn’t once name-drop, even though he’s trained with stars like Mayhem Miller and Tito Ortiz – proving that he’s more prone to laughter and reminiscing than self-promotion.
“I haven’t retired yet,” says the fighter who is training for a possible professional boxing debut in April. “I’m 32 years old and I’ve gotta keep doing something. I’m going to be like Randy Couture. I really hope I look that good at 80.”
The fighter will be holding a wrestling seminar at TMT on March 1st before heading back to California where he’ll continue dreaming big with someone he couldn’t stand all those years ago.
“Rampage is my family,” says Roberts intently before his sense of humor prevails. “’For the longest time we told people we had the same mother but different fathers. I’m the albino black guy. Why are you laughing? I’m being serious!”