GSP Vacates Welterweight Title, Johny Hendricks Fights Robbie Lawler for Belt at UFC 171
By John Heinis on December 14, 2013
Despite criticism from fighters, fans and even his boss, the now former UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre stuck to his word.
“Rush” and the UFC co-hosted a press conference Friday afternoon to make an announcement and it turned out to be a big one: he’s taking a break from the sport and vacating his UFC gold.
"I've been fighting for a long time," St-Pierre said. "22 fights in the UFC. 15 of my fights were for a world title. I've been fighting a very long time for a high level. It's a lot of pressure, a lot of criticism, and I've decided I need to take time off.”
“I know UFC is a business, and it can't wait for one person. They have to keep things rolling, so I've vacated my title for the respect of the other competitors."
One of the most recognizable faces in the history of the sport, St-Pierre refused to put a timetable on how long his leave of absence would be, though he did assure he had every intention of returning to the Octagon.
UFC President Dana White commended the long-time champion for being one of the most professional fighters he’s ever worked with, and seconded the notion that GSP would be back eventually.
White did not leave the UFC welterweight title picture in jeopardy for very long, announcing that recent title challenger Johny Hendricks will fight Robbie Lawler for the belt at UFC 171 on March 15.
Hendricks fought St-Pierre at UFC 167 last month, with the overwhelming majority of the fight community believing he had done more than enough to unseat the French-Canadian superstar.
However, the judges believed differently and awarded St-Pierre a split decision.
White also announced that Carlos Condit, a former UFC interim champ, will be booked at UFC 171, though his opponent is yet to be named.
Will GSP ever make his way back to the Octagon or will the dominant ex-champion eventually decide that he’s hung up the gloves for good?