Georges St-Pierre has vacated the UFC middleweight title he won just over a month ago when he defeated Michael Bisping. The announcement comes on the heels of the French-Canadian’s interview with TSN where he suggested that he wasn’t sure if he’d defend the title. It also comes shortly after it was revealed that GSP was dealing with colitis and it was unknown when he would be able to compete again.
“My fight at UFC 217 was one of the greatest nights of my life but I now need to take some time to focus on my health,” St-Pierre said in a statement. “Out of respect to the athletes and the sport, I don’t want to hold up the division. I will be giving up my belt and once I’m healthy I look forward to working with the UFC to determine what’s next in my career.”
As a result of the announcement, interim middleweight champion Robert Whittaker has been elevated to undisputed champion and will defend the title against former champion Luke Rockhold at UFC 221 on Feb. 10 at the Perth Arena in Australia. Whittaker, who is from Sydney, Australia, won the interim title at UFC 213 when he defeated Yoel Romero in the main event. The Aussie has won eight fights in a row, seven since moving up from welterweight in 2014.
Rockhold will get the opportunity to reclaim the title he lost to Bisping by shocking first-round knockout at UFC 199. The former champion has been vocal about St-Pierre avoiding a fight with other middleweight contenders, saying GSP only sought to fight a vulnerable opponent in the division who happened to be champion.
As for St-Pierre, if he does return to the Octagon, it will likely be at his previous fighting weight of 170 pounds, where he was champion for six years before taking a hiatus from the sport after his decision victory over Johny Hendricks in 2013. He would return four years later to defeat Bisping by third-round submission at UFC 217 in November.