UFC champ Georges St-Pierre vacates middleweight title, Whittaker-Rockhold set

Georges St-Pierre's reign as middleweight champion lasted just 34 days. The former welterweight king who came out of a four-year retirement to take on Michael Bisping at UFC 217 is no longer the champion of the 185-pound division, UFC announced on Saturday.

Instead, interim strapholder Robert Whittaker (who was elevated to full-time champion) and former champion Luke Rockhold will square off for the 185-pound belt at UFC 221 on Feb. 10 in Perth, Australia. 

St-Pierre was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis after the bout and is currently undergoing treatment for the disease, but because of the diagnosis, he will be unable to compete for the foreseeable future. He said as recently as this week he was unsure if he would defend the belt at all.

"My fight at UFC 217 was one of the greatest nights of my life, but I now need to take some time to focus on my health," St-Pierre said in a statement. "Out of respect to the athletes and the sport, I don't want to hold up the division. I will be giving up my belt and once I'm healthy I look forward to working with the UFC to determine what's next in my career."

St-Pierre's 34 days as champion is the shortest title reign in UFC history.

Whittaker has been out of action since beating Yoel Romero for the interim title at UFC 213 in July where he suffered a knee injury. Rockhold is coming off an impressive victory over David Branch in September. It was his first fight back in the Octagon since losing the belt to Bisping in June 2016.

St-Pierre returned to UFC after leaving the sport with nine consecutive title defenses of his 170-pound strap. The fight that was discussed for most of 2017 finally culminated on Nov. 4 when GSP forced Bisping to tap in the third round to earn the 185-pound belt.

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