Georges St. Pierre vacates UFC middleweight title

Georges St. Pierre’s middleweight title reign lasted just over a month.

The UFC star has vacated the belt he won by submitting Michael Bisping at UFC 217 in New York on Nov. 4 after nearly four years away from competition.

“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,” read a statement released Thursday by St. Pierre, who was diagnosed with Ulcerative colitis after that fight.

“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.”

Interim middleweight champion Robert Whittaker has been promoted to undisputed champion and will defend the belt against former champ Luke Rockhold in the main event of UFC 221 on Feb. 10 in Perth, Australia.

St. Pierre, the longest-reigning welterweight champion in UFC history, abandoned the 170-pound title and walked away from the sport in his prime in 2013.

He returned to challenge Bisping for the belt with assurances he would stay at middleweight to defend the title should he win it, according to UFC president Dana White.

The decision to abandon the belt casts doubt on his future at 185 pounds.

Whittaker, an Australia native, has won eight straight fights. He captured the interim belt with a win over Yoel Romero in July as the St. Pierre and Bisping fight was on hold.

The 26-year-old is now the outright champion and will put the belt on the line in his home country.

Rockhold lost the belt to Bisping in June 2016. He was out more than a year before bouncing back with a submission of David Branch in September.

UFC 221 will be the organization’s first event in Perth.

More MMA: Follow all of our MMA and UFC coverage online at CoveringTheCage.com and @CoveringTheCage on Twitter.

Contact Adam Hill at ahill@reviewjournal.com or 702-277-8028. Follow @AdamHillLVRJ on Twitter.

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