The smoke swirling around UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre has finally cleared… somewhat.
It may not be exactly what anyone wanted to hear, but St-Pierre is relinquishing his UFC welterweight championship belt. But, he’s not retiring, not yet anyway.
In a Friday conference call with the media, St-Pierre revealed that he is taking some time for himself and stepping away from the sport that he has come to dominate.
One of the top pound-for-pound fighters in the world, St-Pierre is still human, and as such, he has elements of his life that he wants to address. And that, he says, necessitates taking an indefinite leave of absence from the fight game.
Retirement rumors began to swirl in the weeks leading up to his UFC 167 fight against Johnny Hendricks. St-Pierre won a split-decision victory over Hendricks, causing controversy in and of itself. GSP didn’t retire following the fight, but his comments fueled even more controversy, when he said he needed to walk away from mixed martial arts for what he referred to as “a little bit.”
“There was a lot of talk about what is going to happen,” St-Pierre said at UFC 167, standing in the middle of the Octagon after his main event fight. “I am going to hang my gloves up for a little bit and make sense of my life. I have to go away for a little bit at least. Personal things are happening.”
On Friday, he made the intended leave of absence official.
Not able to divulge a definitive timeline for how long he needs to step away for, and having fought just four times in the past three years, St-Pierre realized that he couldn’t expect the UFC to sit back and wait. Thus, he agreed to relinquish his belt.
“I’ve been fighting for a very long time, at a very high level,” said St-Pierre. “It’s a lot of pressure. I know that UFC is a business. They have to keep things rolling, so I vacate my title.
“One day, I may come back, but right now, I need a break… but I don’t want to make other people wait.”
In making his announcement, St-Pierre sounded as if the pressure of fighting at such a high level for so many years had just worn on him.
“I need to have a normal life for a little bit,” he said. “If I come back some day, I will be even better.”
St-Pierre heads into his sabbatical with a 25-2 overall record, and 19-2 in the UFC.
Stay tuned to MMAWeekly.com as further details emerge.