UFC president Dana White and reigning welterweight king Georges St-Pierre (pictured) had a phone conversation on Thursday to clear the air about St-Pierre’s future. On Friday, the two hosted a conference call to share some of what they chatted about with the world.
Unfortunately for fight fans, they won’t like what St-Pierre had to say.
St-Pierre announced he will relinquish his UFC belt, jewelry he’s donned since April 2008, and leave MMA in his rear-view mirror for the time being.
“I’ve been fighting for a long time. I have 22 fights in the UFC, 15 of my fights is for a world title. I’ve been fighting for a long time at a high level. It’s a lot of pressure, a lot of criticism, and I’ve decided I need to take time off,” St-Pierre stated. “I know the UFC is a business, they can’t wait on one little person. They have to keep things rolling, so I have to vacate my title for the respect of the other competitors.
“One day, when I feel like it, I might come back. But right now I need a break.”
St-Pierre stopped just short of using the “retirement” word following last month’s highly-controversial split decision victory over Johny Hendricks at UFC 167. Instead, the 32-year-old vaguely stated there were “personal things happening” in his life that were forcing him to “go away for a little bit.”
White blasted St-Pierre at the post-fight press conference for his announcement, claiming his biggest pay-per-view draw owed it to everyone to grant Hendricks an immediate rematch. However, White softened his stance once GSP arrived at the presser.
Today, White backed St-Pierre’s decision to step away.
“I agree with Georges 100 percent,” White said. “He sat down and talked to us and said, ‘I have personal issues I’m dealing with right now, and I can’t even imagine going into another training camp. It will drive me crazy.’
“This isn’t baseball, this is fighting. You have to be 100 percent – mental, physical, emotional. If you’re not, you should be on the sidelines and get your stuff cleared up.”
Various reports have surfaced about the personal problems that forced St-Pierre to leave MMA at the peak of his career – ailing father, impregnated a woman who he didn’t want to have a baby with and owing his former manager millions in future earnings after a lost legal battle.
All of those rumors have since been shot down by St-Pierre’s camp. GSP once again refused to disclose his personal issues during Friday’s call.
White said Hendricks and Robbie Lawler will battle for the vacant welterweight title at UFC 171.
St-Pierre owns a 25-2 professional record. He is the UFC’s most decorated welterweight champion having defended his throne nine consecutive times.