The only people who can truly understand the type of pressure that caused Georges St-Pierre to announce his hiatus from mixed martial arts are those who have been in his shoes.
In different ways, two of the fighters featured in headline roles at UFC 168 can relate to St-Pierre, who vacated his welterweight title last week after five-and-a-half years as champion.
Anderson Silva, like GSP, has spent years in the UFC's meat-grinder of a promotional machine. The former middleweight champion is the only fighter to hold a UFC belt longer than St-Pierre, so he knows all about what it's like to have to carry the torch for MMA's biggest fight company.
And as such, Silva, who looks to regain the title from Chris Weidman on Dec. 28 in Las Vegas, can empathize with St-Pierre's decision to step aside.
"I think that everyone knows their right timing and the moment they're living," Silva said in a Tuesday media teleconference. "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, so, you gotta respect it."
UFC women's bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey hasn't been in the spotlight as long as St-Pierre and Silva. But she's had the spotlight's glare fixed on her this year as intensely as anyone has ever felt it. Rousey has has been expected to fill a role not just as a fighter, but as a pioneer women's athlete who transcends her sport.
The champion, who meets Miesha Tate in UFC 168's co-main event, says it's hard for the average person to understand what a fighter goes through.
"If you fight for living, you're fighting for your life every time you go in there," said Rousey. "It's a stressful situation if you think about it. The worst thing that could happen to your day isn't that you might get fired. It's that you could really get physically harmed, and not just that, but your pride could get irrevocably harmed as well. A lot of stress you face time and time again, and it's so much that you really have to have a desire for what you do. You can't fight for anyone but yourself."
And as such, Rousey feels St-Pierre made the correct choice for himself.
"Georges had just passed the record for most time ever spent in the Octagon," Rousey said. "He just broke the record. No one spent as much time as him ever in the Octagon before, so can you really blame him for really feeling like he was done? No one reached that point yet. I don't think it's reasonable to expect him to do more. If he wants to do more, awesome, go for it. But if he expects him to be done, he's done, that's fine. Go rest. You deserve it. You don't have to risk your life for anyone."