When Fedor Emelianenko's much-acclaimed career took a turn for the worst back in 2010, his lock on the mythical title of "Greatest of All Time" seemed to be slipping. After three consecutive losses, the consensus opinion is that UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva has earned the crown.
Currently holding a flawless 16-0 record in the UFC, which includes a 3-0 run at light heavyweight, as well as ten defenses of his championship against some world-class athletes, Silva is a true member of the sport's elite, and has looked invulnerable for most of his UFC career.
While I am part of the camp who thinks The Spider deserves such an honor, I think it is important to note that he has someone nipping at his heels.
On Saturday night, Georges St-Pierre made his return to the UFC and reminded fans of why he was once considered the best pound-for-pound fighter on the planet. Through 25 minutes of action, the longtime welterweight kingpin showed that his torn ACL wouldn't hinder his speed or explosive takedown abilities, as was feared by many.
Let's compare some of the major achievements and pitfalls of both Georges St-Pierre and Anderson Silva as I build a case for GSP as the greatest of all time.
What more relevant statistic is there in determining the greatest of all time than win-loss record? The best fighter in the world is someone who can overcome adversity at every turn and still have his arm raised.
When looking at Georges St-Pierre, we see that he has put together a stellar record of 23-2. That is a 92 percent success rate.
On the other hand, Anderson Silva also has an immaculate record of his own. Sitting in at 33-4, the Spider's 89.1 percent success rate comes in just shy. Even if we were to throw out the disqualification loss to Yushin Okami, Silva would still be beneath Georges at 90.9 percent.
Total wins and quality of wins in the UFC
While the list of consecutive wins inside the Octagon is longer for Anderson Silva, we must not forget that Georges St-Pierre has more of them.
That might feel like splitting hairs, but when we look closer, we can also see that the quality of opponents for GSP is higher than that of Silva.
The least impressive names on St-Pierre's UFC resume are Mayhem Miller and Jay Hieron. While neither man is a world beater, they went on to have notable careers while fighting for other organizations. Everyone else has been a legitimate threat to winning the UFC welterweight championship at some point in their career.
On the other hand, Anderson Silva has benefited from competing in a division that hasn't historically had a lush assortment of worthy contenders. With title defenses against the likes of Patrick Cote and Thales Leites, as well as fights with Stephan Bonnar, James Irvin and Travis Lutter, there have been too many cake walks for The Spider.
Everybody loses eventually. Every single champion on the UFC's roster has lost at one time or another. The way you come back from those losses is what defines you as a fighter.
In the case of Georges St-Pierre, he has two losses, both via stoppage. Like a true warrior, the champ learned from his mistakes and dominated rematches against both Matt Hughes and Matt Serra. The fact that there is not a single unavenged loss on his record is a tremendous statement, and it's something that Anderson Silva cannot claim for himself.
Defeating other champions
After a quick glance at GSP's record, we notice that several world champions are in his record. With wins over Matt Hughes (twice), BJ Penn (twice), Carlos Condit, Sean Sherk, Matt Serra and Jake Shields, Rush has won eight fights against fighters who were once ranked No. 1 in the world.
In comparison, Silva only has six. His wins over Rich Franklin (twice), Dan Henderson, Vitor Belfort, Forrest Griffin and Carlos Newton are the only ones that came against men who once held world championships.
To be the man, you've got to beat the man. As long as both Anderson Silva and Georges St-Pierre are active fighters, fighting a catchweight contest between their respective stomping grounds is the only way to prove who is ultimately deserving of the GOAT moniker.
Andrew Saunders is a featured columnist with Bleacher Report, and a pretty handsome one at that. Follow him on Twitter @SaundersMMA, and he will consider mailing you a warm chocolate chip cookie.