(Reuters) – Canadian Georges St-Pierre has vacated the UFC middleweight title he won on his recent return to the octagon as the recent upheaval in the sport continued.
Australian Robert Whittaker was installed as the new champion after the latest of a number of title vacations and the awarding of interim belts.
Ireland’s two-division champion Conor McGregor was stripped of the UFC featherweight strap last year and Tony Ferguson won the interim title in the lightweight division where McGregor still holds the belt.
“Out of respect to the athletes and the sport, I don’t want to hold up the division,” St-Pierre said in a statement, citing a health issue.
The UFC, widely recognized as the premier MMA organization, announced that the 26-year-old Whittaker, Australia’s first UFC champion, will make his first defense of the title against American Luke Rockhold in Perth next year.
Reporting by Philip O’Connor, editing by Ed Osmond