Long-time UFC matchmaker Joe Silva has been hinting at retirement for some time and yesterday it became a reality. Silva will be leaving his role with the organization he’s called home for over two decades at the end of the year.

Why he’s leaving is still unconfirmed, but aside from the Fertitta brothers departing their respective roles following the WME-IMG $4 billion sale last month, this is by far the most significant departure to the Zuffa set-up.

Silva is reported to have cashed in on the sale and it is that monetary gain that has motivated him to ride off into the sunset and enjoy early retirement with his family.

Oone of the earliest full-time employees of the UFC, Silva’s tenure pre-dates the Zuffa era, when the promotion was owned by SEG. All in all he’s given over 21 years service to the leading mixed martial arts organization, seeing it go from a banned, cult freak show to the global phenomenon and mainstream sport it is today.

What the UFC does in the wake of his departure is unknown for now. Sean Selby, who matchmakes the lower weight classes – 145lb and below – and women’s divisions could potentially take the reigns over the entire roster. Yet it seems more likely a recruitment will be brought in to assist him.

Silva’s departure will be a loss to the UFC brand. His matchmaking prowess has played a significant role in the success of te Las Vegas-based outfit. However, his reluctancy to move his family to Nevada, instead working alone from his home in California, may not have sat too well with the new regime.

It’s also been a fascinating year for the UFC in regards to title match-ups, but one that has divided opinion when it comes to matchmaking and meritocracy. Conor McGregor has held up the featherweight division in favor of big money fights with Nate Diaz up at welterweight, while Michael Bisping is set to defend his middleweight championship for the first time against Dan Henderson, who’s ranked outside the top 10.

Time will tell how much of an influence Silva has been during this year and whether or not the UFC have decided to favor big money marquee fights over putting fights on determined by win streaks and rankings. One thing is for sure, the role of UFC matchmaker has never been in the spotlight more than right now.