Is Rashad Evans Stepping In Against Rampage Jackson For Thiago Silva At UFC 130?

LAS VEGAS - MAY 28: UFC fighter Quinton "Rampage" Jackson (L) faces off against UFC fighter Rashad Evans (R) 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)

Early reports had Thiago Silva removing himself from his bout with Rampage Jackson at UFC 130, only for Rashad Evans to step in. Now Silva is saying he's still in for the fight.

While a Thiago Silva vs. Quinton Jackson fight was a crowd pleaser for fight fans everywhere, this is the best possible news given the circumstances. While he had to pull out of his title fight against Mauricio Rua at UFC 128, Rashad Evans will now face Rampage Jackson in an epic rematch at UFC 130. MMA Weekly has the scoop:

Sources have indicated to MMAWeekly.com as of Wednesday that Thiago Silva has been forced to withdraw from his upcoming fight at UFC 130, and will be replaced by none other that former UFC light heavyweight champion Rashad Evans.

Neither Evan's co-manager Malki Kawa or Jackson's representatives could be reached for comment, but sources close to the bout confirmed that it will be Evans that steps into the UFC 130 fight.

A few takeaway points here.

First, while Rampage vs. Silva was certain to draw eyeballs on an already stacked UFC 130 card, this raises the stakes considerably. The winner should assume they'll get a title shot against the winner of

If the UFC guarantees the winner of this bout a title shot and both Jones and Evans win their next fights, the UFC will be in the unenviable position of trying to get Greg Jackson teammates to fight one another. If they can pull blood from that stone, fighter reluctance to engage in teammate vs. teammate competition will decline considerably.

The first Evans vs. Jackson fight was one of the few from 2010 that pulled in over one million pay-per-view buys. That's in large part a consequence of the promotion for season 10 of The Ultimate Fighter. Their fight at UFC 114 ended up being somewhat of a dud, partly because of Rampage's layoff. Now on a more regular training and competition cycle, the fight should be a much closer content that the first meeting between these two UFC light heavyweights.

More on the UFC 130 event here.

UPDATE: While MMA Weekly is a reliable source for news, Thiago Silva is denying he's off the card:

According to the Brazilian fighter, the recent news of an "injury" are not true, and he's fighting Rampage at UFC 130. "Injured? Me? I'm very healthy and looking forward to fight Rampage. That's not true", Thiago told TATAME, supported by ATT's Conan Silveira. "Nobody called us about anything, the fight is on".

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