Are UFC Fans Being Played by Rampage and Rashad?

Hating each other has made Rampage and Rashad, and Dana White, a lot of money already. Now they're back for more. (Photo by Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images)

By rights the MMA news today should have been about Strikeforce's Heavyweight Grand Prix, but the UFC managed to dominate the narrative anyway with the rumors and speculation that Thiago Silva is out and Rashad Evans is in against Quinton "Rampage" Jackson at UFC 130

MMA Mania has the skinny on the Thiago situation:

The Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) today confirmed that 14 of the 15 competitors who were tested for illegal/banned substances after competing at UFC 125: "Resolution" on Jan. 1 have all passed with flying colors.

NSAC Executive Director Keith Kizer did not reveal the identity of the odd man out, saying only that Mr. X's urine sample is "still being processed."

Those who were screened for performance enhancers such as steroids and drugs of abuse like cocaine and marijuana, among others, and came back clean include main event participants Frankie Edgar and Gray Maynard, as well as Chris Leben, Brian Stann, Brandon Vera, Phil Baroni, Brad Tavares, Jeremy Stephens, Dustin Poirier, Diego Nunes, Daniel Roberts, Jacob Volkmann, Dong Hyun Kim and Clay Guida.

Vera was tested, however, his opponent, Thiago Silva, does not appear on this list.

Meanwhile the reports about Rashad and Rampage getting into a slap fight are seeing serious play. Here's Dave Meltzer from the Wrestling Observer (subscription required):

The real main event for UFC 130 may end up being a rematch with Quinton Jackson vs. Rashad Evans. Jackson is currently scheduled to face Thiago Silva, and as of a few hours ago, that was still scheduled, although those in Silva's camp admitted they had a bad feeling about it. The Nevada State Athletic commission a few hours ago listed 14 fighters from the 1/1 show whose urine tests came back clean. They also said there is one test pending. By process of elimination, given that every other name tested but Silva was listed as clean, that would say his is pending. Evans is apparently being looked at for the sport in what would be a grudge match. Jackson and Evans were at a night club in Las Vegas over the weekend and Jackson slapped Evans, who slapped him back before the situation was broken up.

Forgive me for being a salty, suspicious old cuss but it's awfully convenient that Rashad and Rampage are heating up their (very real) mutual animosity just in time for a rematch. 

I predict that many of the fans who were frustrated and angry with the first match will fall for this hook line and sinker. The same fans that were mad that Evans chose to put on a lovely display of strategy and setting up take downs with punches instead of standing and banging with Rampage will likely be the first to fall for the hype the second time around.

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