Over the past few weeks, Wanderlei Silva has been on a whirlwind media tour talking to any outlet who would have him. Again and again he brought up his desire to fight Quinton "Rampage" Jackson. There were even reports the UFC was trying to push a bout between the two scheduled for later this year. When the news broke that the pregnant woman Jackson hit with his truck had a miscarriage, it seemed unlikely the UFC would put Rampage back into the spotlight
A funny thing happened a week later. Rampage went on his own media tour of Minnesota, courtesy of Dana White's video blog. He never brought up Silva, but he did stress he was working out and mentally stable. White and him laughed about his problems, as if they were simply the result of some "crazy fasting diet". The implication of these actions was clear. The UFC is serious about getting Jackson back into the Octagon this year. If they were not, he would have never been at UFC 87 hamming it up for the cameras.
It would seem an easy transition into a fight between Silva and Jackson, but then another funny thing happened. Mauricio "Shogun" Rua crawled out from under his rock and announced he was fighting Rampage in December. I refused to believe Silva and Rua, who remain close friends, would get their signals crossed and not realize the other has a fight or is campaigning for one with Jackson. So what does it all mean?
I could see why both would want to face Jackson. Silva has beaten him twice and each was a slaughter. Rua did not have any trouble either, scoring a first round TKO. It is possible they see a vulnerable high profile opponent and want to take him out before some one else does. A victory over Jackson would put either back into title contention.
From the UFC's perspective Silva is the better opponent. While most UFC fans know the past success of Rua, the last time they saw him he was gasping for air in the third round against Forrest Griffin. Silva, on the other hand, annihilated Keith Jardine and brought back memories of the old Ax Murderer who tore through Pride. He has more momentum and pairing him with Jackson would create an enormous amount of interest.
In my opinion Rua is less believable in this situation. Silva has been close to Dana White the past week in Minneapolis and it would seem strange for him to continually talk about a possible fight with Jackson, if he was not told by White or a high ranking member of the UFC that he was likely to face him later this year. Rua is out of the loop and does not know the full story. He likely heard Jackson's name brought up in early conversations about possible opponents and thought it would be the best match for him. That does not mean it will happen. Rua's word has been unreliable in the past and here I think it is again.