Georges St-Pierre vacates title, Whittaker now champ, defends against Rockhold

Georges St-Pierre vacates title, Whittaker now champ, defends against Rockhold

The UFC announced on Thursday that newly crowned middleweight champion Georges St-Pierre is vacating his world title effective immediately.

St-Pierre has been battling illness, colitis, and has been sidelined indefinitely.  As a result, interim middleweight champion Robert Whittaker has been named champion.

Whittaker will defend his title against former champion Luke Rockhold in the main event at UFC 221 in Australia on Feb. 10 (Feb. 11 local time).

“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. “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.”

St-Pierre defeated Michael Bisping in the main event at UFC 217 just one month ago. The event was held at Madison Square Garden and it was GSP’s first fight back since vacating welterweight title in 2013.

Before vacating the title GSP said this earlier in the week, “I now understand the health issues that I had during my last training camp…I hoped my condition would improve after the fight but unfortunately it got worse and I had to go straight to the hospital for a colonoscopy when I came back from vacation last Wednesday. The diagnosis is ulcerative colitis and I am now taking medication that will hopefully appease the symptoms. My healthy is my #1 priority right now, I’m still a very happy man, thanks for your support!”

Tickets for UFC 221, which airs live on Pay-Per-View, go on sale on December 15.