(This story appears in today’s edition of USA TODAY.)

The UFC’s longtime king of pay-per-view is gone, at least for now. With welterweight champion [autotag]Georges St-Pierre[/autotag] vacating his title and stepping away from the sport for an indefinite period, the UFC has a huge void to fill and no clear successor to the throne.

It couldn’t come at a trickier time for the largest MMA promoter. It finishes off 2013 on Dec. 28 with what it hopes will be its biggest event of the year in UFC 168, one that will see a one-time increase of $5 in the PPV price, for reasons UFC President Dana White couldn’t or wouldn’t explain.

It kicks off its new subscription-based digital network in January, which will charge fans a monthly fee to watch lesser-known fighters compete on foreign soil.

The question remains: Who will those fans be paying to see, and what…

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