I only met him once and it was just after he fought Sakuraba in Pride. So here’s the background.
I was at an mma event at Saddleback Community College in 2002. A friend of mine was fighting and the card had some good talent. Also notable was some kind of near riot between Ruas’ crew and Chris Brennan’s crew that had half of the people run outside to see something go down. But nothing happened. Rampage was owed money by his nephew or cousin, I forget which, and enlisted him to fight in order to pay him back. Rampage I think had the check made out to him afterwards. His relative got armbarred in 30 seconds if I remember correctly.
After the show we went to the after party which was at some bar. But neither me or my friend were 21 so we couldn’t get in. Enter Rampage. He was leaving and offered us a ride back to the hotel. Problem was, he didn’t know where it was, much less his way around Irvine or Lake Forest. He had used some of the money he got in Pride to buy an Expedition that used to belong to Tito Ortiz. It had the Team Punishment stickers on it. So we pile in, Rampage driving, his BJJ coach sitting up front, I believe it was Anderson Goncalves but I might be wrong. He had just had knee surgery. Also there’s 2 guys from Japan who both have video cameras and some Korean woman who spoke no English. Then us two guys hitching a ride.
First of all I’m not disparaging Rampage in any way, and I say this with nothing but the kindest feelings, but back then he drove like a maniac. I’m honestly surprised we aren’t dead, crippled, were pulled over, arrested or had any other kind of misfortune befall us besides getting lost. On the other side of that, had it been anyone else driving, this wouldn’t have been anywhere near as fun a story. Most of the time Rampage used to complain about all kinds of things and banter back and forth with Anderson. Complaining about Joe Moreira having such a hot girlfriend despite not being able to speak English was a riot. Just everything out of his mouth was funny. It was that and asking almost any woman he saw at a stoplight to flash him. We’re just rolling in laughter. Finally though somebody called him and told him where the hotel was. The two guys with cameras in the back caught about 70% of this before the batteries ran out. I guess they planned to release it on video at some point but never did as far as I knew. It was supposed to be called Rampage Unleashed.
So driving to the hotel i forget how this happened, but some guys had been following us and motioned for us to pull over and I’m like great we’re going to get into some big road rage fight or get shot. I think Anderson told me to go stand out in front of the license plate so they couldn’t write it down. But once these guys saw Rampage get out they were cool with it and got autographs from him. He wears the chain around too. That’s not an act.
Finally we get back to the hotel, and a lot more crazy stuff happened. Some of which I’m not sure the statute of limitations has run out on yet.
I’m sure anyone who has spent time around the mma world, especially back then has some even wilder story than that. I get the feeling this was pretty tame.