Georges St-Pierre vacates UFC welterweight title

Xander Bogaerts (left) and Jackie Bradley Jr. figure to play big roles for the Red Sox in 2014. (USATSI)
Georges St-Pierre announced he is taking a leave of absence and vacating his title. (USATSI)

UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre will be vacating his UFC welterweight title and taking an indefinite leave of absence, the now-former champion announced Friday during a media conference call.

"I've been fighting for a long time," said St-Pierre. "I have 22 fights in the UFC, and 15 were for a world title. I've been fighting a long time at a high level, a lot of pressure and criticizing. I've decided I needed to take some time off."

St-Pierre said he's physically 100 percent, but he needs time off to live a normal life away from the pressures of the UFC and the training camps. 

During the post-fight interview following his controversial split-decision victory last month over Johnny Hendricks, St-Pierre said he needed to step away from the sport, but he didn't specify why. During that press conference, UFC President Dana White made it clear he didn't agree with St-Pierre and that he wanted the champion to give Hendricks a rematch.

On Friday's call, however, White said he fully supported St-Pierre's decision.

"You have to be 100 percent mental, physical, emotional," said White. "If you're not you should get out. I think it's the right move."

Hendricks, who many, including White, thought won his fight against St-Pierre, will get another shot at the belt as he will face Robbie Lawler for the vacated welterweight championship on March 15 at UFC 171. 

St-Pierre said he is not retiring, but he has no immediate plans to come back.

"Definitely one day I will come back," said St-Pierre. "I'll be stronger when I do, but it has to be on my own terms."

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