Rampage Jackson, Jon Jones and the Time-Honored Tradition of Training Camp Spies

LAS VEGAS - MAY 28: UFC fighter Quinton "Rampage" Jackson speaks to the crowd about his fight against UFC fighter Rashad Evans at UFC 114: Rampage versus Rashad at the Mandalay Bay Hotel on May 28, 2010 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images)

MMA is so young that sometimes things that have been around for ages are seen as brand new concepts when they invade the sport. This is the case with the accusations by Quinton Jackson that there is a spy for Jon Jones in his training camp. This is actually something that can be traced back to the very early days of Frank Gotch and George Hackenschmidt.

I have previously written about the legendary rematch between Gotch and Hackenschmidt in 1911, a bout where severe camp sabotage has been brought up (and occasionally dismissed). From Wikipedia:

The rematch is one of the most controversial and talked about matches in wrestling history, as Hackenschmidt injured his knee against Roller, his chief training partner. Years later, wrestler Ad Santel told Lou Thesz that he was paid $5000 by Gotch's backers to cripple Hackenschmidt in training, and make it look like an accident. However, according to Hackenschmidt himself, the injury was accidently inflicted by his sparring partner, Dr. Roller, when trying to hold Hackenschmidt down onto his knees and Roller's right foot striking Hackenschmidt's right knee. According to Hackenschmidt, his sparring partners were Jacobus Koch, Wladek Zbyscko and Dr. Roller. Ad Santel is not mentioned in any account of Hackehschmidt's training by either Hackenschmidt or Roller, both of whom offered their insights and accounts.

The fact that it may not be true doesn't really matter as much as the fact that the possibility exists for it to happen. And the fact that it has come up as far back as the early 1900's.

In more modern times we've seen situations such as when Manny Pacquiao faced Joshua Clottey:

"The plan was that Manny would throw a one-two and then step backward as if he were trying to get out. We knew that would bring Clottey in, and the instant Manny saw him start to throw his jab he was supposed to catch him with a hook on top of it."

"But when I step back out, what if he doesn't come in?" wondered Pacquiao.

"He will," promised Roach.

But he didn't. At least 10 times in 12 rounds Pacquiao baited the hook, and not once did Clottey rise to it, leading Roach to speculate on the presence of a mole.

Gee. You think?

"We did have one sparring partner from Ghana (Abullai Amidu)," Roach reflected the morning after the fight. "(Clottey and his corner) sure seemed to know what we were up to."

But just a few years earlier it was Marco Antonio Barrera's people who accused Roach and Pacquiao of doing the spying:

Meanwhile, Roach yesterday vehemently protested an article which came out in several websites insinuating that he has a tape of Marco Antonio Barrera's workouts, and that he has commissioned a spy in the Mexican's camp.

"That's a total lie. Tell them it's not true. Why should I do that? I don't need a tape. We already know how to beat Barrera," said the two-time Trainer of the Year awardee.

Jeff Mayweather accused Wladimir Klitschko of having a spy in the camp of Sultan Ibragimov before their 2008 bout and there are countless other examples from near every era in combat sports history.

As long as there are people with something to gain, there will be spies in some camps. And as long as there are paranoid trainers and fighters, there will be random and incorrect accusations.

Was there actually a spy in Rampage's camp? Possibly, and it would only make sense if there was.

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