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GSP vacates middleweight title; Whittaker set to defend in Perth

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Georges St. Pierre’s reign as UFC middleweight champion has officially come to an end today outside of the octagon.

Just 34 days after defeating Michael Bisping to become only the fourth 2-division champion in the history of the promotion, the 36-year-old Canadian mixed martial arts legend vacated the title to take some time away from the sport due to ulcerative colitis. Here’s the official statement from GSP via UFC.com:

“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. 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.”

With interim champion Robert Whittaker being promoted to the undisputed champion of the division following St. Pierre’s decision to vacate, UFC officials wasted no time making a date for the Aussie’s first title defense.

Whittaker (19-4) will make his first title defense against former 185 lbs king Luke Rockhold (16-3) on February 10th in Perth, Australia in the main event of UFC 221. In his first fight since losing his title to Michael Bisping via a stunning KO upset, Rockhold was able to submit a red-hot David Branch with punches in the main event of UFC Fight Night 116. 

Here’s a look at UFC 221 ‘Whittaker vs. Rockhold’ as it stands today:

Middleweight Championship Bout
Robert Whittaker (c) (19-4) vs. Luke Rockhold (16-3)

Light Heavyweight Bout
Tyson Pedro (6-1) vs. Saparbek Safarov (8-1)

Flyweight Bout
Jussier Formiga (20-5) vs. Ben Nguyen (17-6)

Welterweight Bout
Donald Cerrone (32-10) vs. Maribek Taisumov (26-5)

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