It was a storybook return to the big leagues as Georges St-Pierre came back from a four-year absence to defeat Michael Bisping and win the UFC middleweight championship.
However, the 36-year-old admitted earlier this week that a title defence was an unlikely occurrence – and now we know it is a non-runner.
Speaking on Canadian television during the week, he said:
“We’ll talk about it, but I’m not sure if I compete I will go back at 185 [pounds]. I don’t think so.”
“I don’t think it’s a good thing to do — force myself to eat to gain muscle mass. I’ve always been against performance-enhancing drugs and I did it the natural way. There is no easy way.
Now, he has revealed that he has vacated the title ‘out of respect to the athletes and the sport’.
In a statement, GSP said:
“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.
“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.”
Since beating Bisping last month, St-Pierre has been diagnosed with ulcerative colitis which always made an immediate return to the Octagon unlikely for the 26-2 fighter.
GSP’s decision to vacate the belt has meant that Robert Whittaker is promoted to champion.
Whittaker is currently interim champion, a title he gained after a points win over Yoel Romero in July.
The Auckland-bork fighter is set to defend the belt in February when fights at UFC 221 against Luke Rockhold in Perth, Western Australia.