UFC superstar Georges St. Pierre clearly wanted some time off from competition, while president Dana White didn’t want to see the welterweight division be held in limbo by a champion whose heart wasn’t in it these days. On a UFC conference call, GSP officially announced that he was taking a lengthy absence from the Octagon and was vacating his title.
For his part, White announced that the organization would have Johny Hendricks fight Robbie Lawler at UFC 171 in Dallas on March 15 for the welterweight championship.
St. Pierre had all he could handle against Hendricks at UFC 167, with the champion retaining his title via a controversial decision victory. It was St. Pierre’s record-setting 19th victory in the Octagon and his ninth successful defense of the belt since winning it a second time. No one has spent more time inside the Octagon than GSP.
St. Pierre referred to the tremendous grind and pressure of preparing for and facing the highest level of competition as key reasons why he needed to step away. He said that he’s 100 per cent physically, but it’s the mental grind that has him needing to take the break, and there are some personal issues he needs to attend to.
White, for his part, is in full agreement saying if St.Pierre isn’t 100 per cent committed physically and mentally, it’s the smart move to step away. He called St. Pierre the greatest welterweight ever. Having St. Pierre head to the sidelines at a time that UFC lightweight champion Anthony Pettis and heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez are on the shelf for several months isn’t ideal, but life goes on as White says and the solution seems a win-win. St. Pierre is entitled to the time he needs away from the sport to deal with his personal issues and enjoy a somewhat normal life, while the UFC will get a solid future champion with either Hendricks or Lawler.
The March 15 matchup should be a terrific contest. Hendricks is fresh off one of the best performances of his career against St. Pierre, while Lawler has lived up to his moniker of “Ruthless” in his second stint with the promotion. Lawler recorded devastating knockouts of Josh Koscheck and Bobby Voelker, and derailed all the hype surrounding Rory MacDonald will a split decision win at UFC 167.
White added he’s confident that St. Pierre will return at some point. St.Pierre said he would continue to train, but set no timetable for a comeback. If the UFC’s PPV king decides to return to the Octagon to begin a quest to be a three-time champ, fans will undoubtedly be ready.
Rick LaFitte is an MMA Writer for Rant Sports