After weeks of speculation and a few days of true uncertainty, UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre today made it official: He’s vacating his title and taking some time off.
St-Pierre today made the announcement during a media call carried by MMAjunkie Radio.
St-Pierre, long ranked No. 1 in the USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA welterweight rankings, said he simply needed a break from the sport. He made his decision after talking to UFC President Dana White and CEO Lorenzo Fertitta.
“I’ve been fighting for a long time,” St-Pierre said. “I have 22 fights in the UFC, and 15 were for a world title. I’ve been fighting a long time at a high level, a lot of pressure and criticizing. I’ve decided I needed to take some time off.”
St-Pierre didn’t count out the possibility of returning to the cage in the future, but he had no immediate plans. That prompted his decision to vacate his title.
“The UFC is a business,” he said. “I’m vacating my title out of respect for the other competitors.”
Soon after he narrowly edged Johny Hendricks (15-2 MMA, 10-2 UFC) via split decision at UFC 167, St-Pierre (25-2 MMA, 19-2 UFC) said he would be taking time off from the sport in an emotional post-fight speech and declined to identify the apparently serious issues gnawing at him.
“I can’t sleep at night, man,” he said after the Nov. 16 event. “I’m going crazy. I have issues and I need to get out for a while. I don’t know what I’m going to do. I feel like I’m leaving everything out now, but I need to leave part of my life personal. I need to get out for a little bit, and that’s it.”
White initially was adamant that Hendricks deserved an immediate rematch and that he expected St-Pierre to put off any type of layoff.
However, with St-Pierre planning to discuss his future today at an appearance at a mall in Quebec City, the UFC booked the media call with White just prior to it.
After speaking with St-Pierre, who said he simply couldn’t go through with another training camp and considered taking a break even before UFC 167, White said he understood.
“I agree with Georges 100 percent,” White said. “… I think it’s the right move.”
Despite the temporary loss of the UFC’s biggest-pay-per-view draw, all’s not lost for the promotion. St-Pierre isn’t calling it a retirement and vowed he’ll return to the cage.
“Definitely one day I will come back,” he said. “I’ll be stronger when I do, but it has to be on my own terms.”
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