Although they competed in different weight classes, for years the names Georges St-Pierre and Anderson Silva have been linked in the imaginations of mixed martial arts (MMA) fans worldwide.
Generally considered the two best fighters on the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) roster, the long-reigning Welterweight champion St. Pierre and the 10-time defending Middleweight champion Silva appeared destined to one day meet in the Octagon. Only then, the popular argument went, could they finally determine who truly was the greatest fighter in UFC (never mind that a fair fight between the two was always going to be impossible because of a significant size difference).
That all changed back in July, when Silva was knocked by Chris Weidman at UFC 162. In the time it took for one crisp left hook to find its mark, the UFC landscape underwent a sea of change that was difficult to immediately process.
It felt no less surreal last week (Fri., Dec. 13, 2013) when St. Pierre announced he was vacating the UFC Welterweight title and taking an indefinite hiatus.
In the span of just six months, everything we thought we knew about the MMA world has seemingly turned upside down. For years St. Pierre and Silva ruled their divisions; now neither man possesses a championship.
Silva has a chance to recapture the belt he wore for nearly seven years when he rematches Weidman on Sat., Dec. 28 at UFC 168, which takes place at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. Although "The Spider" is hungry to reclaim the throne he once sat upon, he feels St. Pierre made the right decision in abdicating his spot atop the Welterweight division.
"I think that everyone knows their right timing and the moment they're living," Silva pontificated during a Tuesday (Dec. 17, 2013) afternoon media conference call promoting UFC 168 (listen to full audio replay here). "You have to respect Georges St-Pierre for everything he's done in the sport. If he feels like this is the correct time, we have to respect him. Everyone knows their time they have to retire or take a moment to step away."
One thing is for certain though, if he fights for another five years or retires on Dec. 29, 2013, Silva has earned the MMA world's respect every bit as much as St-Pierre.
For more on how Silva and Weidman stack up against each other click here.