Georges St-Pierre has officially announced that he’s vacated the middleweight title he won just a few weeks ago as he looks to focus on is health after being diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis.
“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 wrote in a statement on UFC.com. “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 is now the second time that the Canadian superstar has vacated a title, having previously walked away from his welterweight title back in 2013 after a long reign in the division, citing the need to take time out from the sport.
As a result of all this, interim titleholder Robert Whittaker has now automatically been upgraded to champion status and will defend the belt for the first time against Luke Rockhold at UFC 221 on February 10th in Australia.
Whittaker had claimed the interim belt back in July when he earned a unanimous decision win over Yoel Romero in Las Vegas.
That marked his eighth win in a row at 185lbs, having also defeated the likes of Ronaldo ‘Jacare’ Souza, Derek Brunson and Uriah Hall, but he’s been out of action since then due to a knee injury.
He’ll now face a former champion in Rockhold, who had racked up wins over several of the biggest names in the division like Michael Bisping, Lyoto Machida and Chris Weidman en-route to claiming the title, but then lost it in a short-notice rematch with ‘The Count’ back in June of 2016.
Since then Rockhold has fought just once, forcing former WSOF multi-division champion David Branch to submit due to punches back in September.