Reigning Ultimate Fighting Championship welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre vacated his belt on Friday, saying his life “is a … zoo right now.”
UFC President Dana White, who did not want the popular veteran mixed martial artist taking a break when the fighter originally announced he would take time off following his split-decision victory over Johny Hendricks last month, now says he’s content with St-Pierre’s decision.
St-Pierre held the welterweight belt since 2007, successfully defending it 10 times.
“Life goes on … you put a bookmark in it and see when the story ends,” said White, who added St-Pierre’s contractual obligation to UFC will be “frozen” and resume upon his return to fighting.
If St-Pierre can return from his hiatus and recapture the belt, White said, “it will be another epic part of his career.”
White said the UFC will stage a welterweight title fight pitting Hendricks (15-2) against Robbie Lawler (22-9) March 15 at American Airlines Arena in Hendricks’ hometown of Dallas.
St-Pierre (25-2), who declined to reveal what personal issues are bothering him, said he believes he’ll return to fight, but isn’t certain.
“I wanted to be the greatest,” St-Pierre said.
In the octagon following his victory over Hendricks, a hard-fought bout in which St-Pierre was battered in the second and fourth rounds, St-Pierre told UFC analyst Joe Rogan he was going to take a break, repeating it to reporters in the post-fight news conference.
An angered White objected and days later said St-Pierre would defend his belt in a timely manner. White, in November, said St-Pierre “obsesses” about issues, and wrongly believed “this is the end of the world.”
St-Pierre said TMZ reports that he impregnated a woman and that his father is dying were inaccurate.
What changed for White?
“To him, he’s going crazy,” White said. “He has these issues he has to deal with. Once he deals with them, he can focus on training and being a fighter again. I would never tell a guy who’s not mentally focused to compete.
“Georges St-Pierre will fight again. I’ve made it very clear, I can’t express how bad Georges St-Pierre does not need money. I honestly believe he will come back after he buttons up these things in his personal life. … It has nothing to do with fighting, it’s personal stuff.”