With the cancellation of Saturday’s UFC 151 event, MMA fans’ collective attention has been drawn to an unlikely replacement. Without the competition of Jones vs. Henderson the following night, One FC’s Pride of a Nation card may be able to draw some decent numbers for the small promotion.

Headlining the card are former UFC Heavyweight Champions Andrei “The Pitbull” Arlovski and Tim “The Maineiac” Sylvia; two fighters who are not unfamiliar with one another — having faced each other three times previously over the course of their respective UFC careers.

A throwback for long-time MMA fans, this fight pits two former champions and former top-dogs of the heavyweight division–who are both considered shadows of their former selves — in what may be their one last chance at glory, as both have fallen on hard times of late.

Arlovski, since being KO’d by then #1 ranked Fedor Emelianenko, has gone 2-3 with his only wins against journeymen Ray Lopez and Travis Fulton.

Similarly, Sylvia’s career has taken a turn for the worse since he, himself, suffered a KO at the hands of Emelianenko; though he has gone 7-2, none of those wins were against fighters anywhere near the top 20.   

Sylvia, who has undoubtedly looked better than Arlovski in the past few years, currently leads the series 3-1 against his opponent. But what is of more interest isn’t the match-up itself, but what it means for the sport of Mixed Martial Arts.

Over the past few years, we’ve seen the greats of yesteryear decline at varying levels. Chuck Liddell, once the most feared striker –possessor of an iron jaw, will and fists–fizzle out in a series of fights that saw him laid out, eyes glazed, staring blankly at the stars above. However, some would argue that he went out on top — fighting the best of the best in the best organization. Though he did end his career with a three fight losing skid, all of which came by way of vicious knockout.

On the other side of the spectrum of declination we have the likes of Arlovski, Tim Sylvia, and former UFC Lightweight Champion Jens “Little Evil” Pulver, who happens to be fighting on Friday’s One FC card as well. Instead of burning out in a major organization they choose (or had the choice made for them) to fizzle away in lesser organizations against lesser competition.

So what is the best way to go out? On your shield, like Chuck; or with your sword, like the others? Some may argue that taking the route of fighting in sub-organizations has its advantages: you get to taste victory a few more times, you go out on your own terms, and you headline cards that help pave the way for new talent. It’s a showcase for yourself and for those up-and-comers.

No matter which side of the argument you choose, though, one thing is for certain: we’re going to see more and more of our old favourites and former greats having to choose one way or the other.

As for me, I’ll be tuning in to One FC: Pride of a Nation with the hopes that Arlovski and Sylvia will put on one last barn-burner of a showdown. Here’s to the men who were once great and are still entertaining  as all hell.

Photo courtesy of MMAJunkie.com