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Georges St-Pierre vacates; Robert Whittaker vs. Luke Rockhold title fight set for UFC 221


There are no more lingering questions surrounding the UFC middleweight championship.

The promotion announced Thursday night that Georges St-Pierre has vacated his belt just one month after winning it, and an undisputed title fight between previous interim champ Robert Whittaker and ex-champ Luke Rockhold is set.

Whittaker (19-4 MMA, 10-2 UFC) vs. Rockhold (16-3 MMA, 6-2 UFC) is happening at UFC 221, which takes place Feb. 10 at Perth Arena in Perth, Australia, and airs on pay-per-view following prelims on FS1 and UFC Fight Pass.

The development comes just one day after St-Pierre (26-2 MMA, 20-2 UFC) told TSN in Canada he didn’t think he would defend the 185-pound belt. St-Pierre, the former longtime welterweight champ who claimed middleweight gold with a third-round submission of Michael Bisping at UFC 217, revealed last week that he’s suffering from colitis, which will keep him out indefinitely.

St-Pierre never was clear about his future beyond his comeback fight after a four-year hiatus, despite being contractually obligated to unify the belt. In the week after his win over Bisping, St-Pierre vowed that he wouldn’t “freeze” the division.

Now things can move along with Whittaker, Rockhold and the rest of the 185-pound title picture.

Whittaker claimed the interim middleweight belt in July with a unanimous-decision victory over Yoel Romero at UFC 213. Whittaker has won his past eight contests overall, including seven-straight since he returned to middleweight from welterweight in November 2014. Although he’s been patient along the way, Whittaker clearly was eager to get a shot at one of the sport’s all-time greats in St-Pierre.

Instead, Whittaker will face Rockhold, a former titleholder who is coming off a second-round TKO of David Branch at UFC Fight Night 116 in September. The bout marked Rockhold’s return to the octagon after more than a year. In his fight prior, he suffered a stunning first-round knockout loss to drop the belt to Bisping at UFC 199 in June 2016.

For more on UFC 221, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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