News came down late Thursday evening that newly-crowned comeback star of UFC, Georges St-Pierre has vacated the UFC's middleweight championship, one month after winning the title in a spectacular third-round submission against Michael Bisping at UFC 217. St-Pierre returned to the Octagon after four years away from the sport and while he would have honorably defended the title, now won't get an opportunity to.
The UFC announced St-Pierre (26-2) vacated the title after the fighter declared he is currently suffering from colitis, and did not wish to delay or hold up the UFC's 185-pound division. The news comes as a disappointment to a lot of fans and likely St-Pierre, but his wish to respect his fellow fighters and the sport trumped his desire to remain the champ.
Brett Okamoto of ESPN notes in a recent article that St-Pierre explained his decision by describing his situation but not calling it quits on his career. "My fight at UFC 217 was one of the greatest nights of my life, but I now need to take some time off to focus on my health," St-Pierre said. "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."
This decision means that Robert Whittaker will be given the title and named the new middleweight champion. Whittaker will now move on to face Luke Rockhold in the main event of UFC 221 on Feb. 10 in Perth, Australia.
While respectful of the sport, St-Pierre was also critical of the UFC's decision to let his opponent at UFC 217 return so quickly after what St-Pierre thought was a pretty serious injury. While he understood Bisping's desire to do something miraculous, St-Pierre classified the decision as a dangerous gamble and thought the UFC should have done more to prevent a possible issue.
It looks like St-Pierre is taking his own advice and not risking anything until he deems himself completely healthy.