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Georges St-Pierre Taking Leave from MMA; Vacates Welterweight Championship
Posted by Dan Plunkett on 12.13.2013



UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre announced today on a special UFC conference call he would be vacating his championship and taking an indefinite leave of absence from mixed martial arts. The 32-year-old first publicly expressed desire to take time away from the cage following his controversial decision victory over Johny Hendricks at last month's UFC 167. On the call, he noted he made the decision to step away prior to that fight.

"Every fight I am carrying weight on my shoulder. Every fight you add weight on your shoulder. I have a hard time carrying it myself," he noted on the call. "I need to have a normal life for a bit."

He did left the door open for an eventual return, but did not guarantee it. "I believe one day I will come back. I can't put myself through another training camp right now. I don't want to make anybody wait."

He follows in the footsteps of former UFC champion Frank Shamrock, who vacated the middleweight (now light heavyweight) championship in 1999 with the intention of taking an extended break from fighting. (When Bas Rutten vacated the heavyweight championship in 1999, he intended to return in the middleweight (under 200 pounds) division, only to see injuries force him into retirement.)

St-Pierre leaves with the most wins in UFC history with 19 and most time spent fighting in the Octagon at 5:28:12. His streak of nine consecutive title defenses is second most in UFC and major MMA history. In 2011, 411Mania staff determined St-Pierre was the second greatest fighter in the history of MMA.

Following Brock Lesnar's defeat to Cain Velasquez in 2010, St-Pierre settled in as the biggest draw in the sport. Prior to the Hendricks bout, his previous seven bouts had all attracted at least an estimated 700,000 sales on pay-per-view. He was featured in the co-main event of July 2009's UFC 100, which was UFC's largest ever pay-per-view at an estimated 1.6 million buys. His March bout against Nick Diaz was his best drawing as a main event fighter at about 950,000 purchases. In 2011, he headlined UFC's debut show in Toronto, Canada, which set UFC's all time attendance and gate records with 55,724 fans paying $12,075,000.

While St-Pierre steps away at the top of the sport, his past four bouts saw a considerably less dominant version of the longtime champion. Over those four matches he absorbed 412 significant strikes as measured by Fight Metric, compared to 463 significant strikes absorbed in the first 23 fights of his career. The Hendricks bout marked the first time at least one judge didn't score every round for St-Pierre since his 2007 loss to Matt Serra.

You can listen to the complete audio of today's conference call below…

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