Georges St. Pierre will not be defending the middleweight title he won at UFC 217.
Robert Whittaker will square off against Luke Rockhold for the undisputed 185-pound belt at UFC 221 in Perth on Feb. 10. The Las Vegas-based promotion announced the bout on Thursday night while also revealing that St. Pierre is vacating the middleweight title, “effective immediately.” As a result, Whittaker has been elevated to undisputed middleweight champion.
St. Pierre recently announced that he has been dealing with ulcerative colitis and would not be likely to compete at 185 pounds again. “Rush” defeated Michael Bisping via third round submission at UFC 217 on Nov. 4 to capture the middleweight crown.
“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,” St. Pierre said in a release. “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.” Whittaker claimed the interim middleweight title with a unanimous decision victory over Yoel Romero at UFC 213 on July 8. The 26-year-old Australian has won eight consecutive fights inside the Octagon.
Rockhold lost the 185-pound strap in a shocking knockout defeat against Michael Bisping at UFC 199 in June 2016. He returned to action at UFC Fight Night 116 on Sept. 16, when he earned a second-round TKO win over former World Series of Fighting two-division titlist David Branch.