UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre decided that he had issues in his personal life that he needs to deal with, thus on Friday, St-Pierre announced that he is taking unprecedented step of taking a leave of absence and relinquishing his UFC belt.
St-Pierre had no answers for how long he would be stepping away, or if it might even be a permanent move that eventually becomes his retirement.
Not wasting any time in filling the huge gap that St-Pierre leaves behind, UFC president Dana White announced that the UFC would move swiftly to put the belt around someone else’s waist.
UFC 171 is already slated to feature Jon Jones putting his light heavyweight title on the line against Glover Teixeira, and White confirmed that will remain the headliner. So the addition of Hendricks vs. Lawler makes it an extremely high profile event.
Hendricks is coming off a controversial split decision loss to St-Pierre at UFC 167 in November, so it was a given that he would be in the fight for the vacated belt.
Although Carlos Condit is currently the fighter ranked immediately behind Hendricks in the UFC’s official media rankings, White and Co. felt that Condit having already lost to St-Pierre and Hendricks, that it made more sense for Lawler, who is ranked No. 3, to fight Hendricks for the belt.
White added that he has something in the works for Condit and hopes to have Condit on the UFC 171 fight card as well, although he indicated that it wasn’t likely to be a fight between Condit and Matt Brown. A fight between Condit and Brown had been slated for this weekend’s UFC on Fox 9, but was cancelled after Brown suffered herniated discs in his back.