Georges St-Pierre is vacating his welterweight title and taking an indefinite leave from the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
The Montreal native made the announcement Friday afternoon from Quebec City during a media conference call with UFC president Dana White. St-Pierre gave no indication if or when he might return to the octagon.
"One day, when I feel like it, I might come back," St-Pierre said. "Right now I need a break.
"I believe that one day I will come back, but the problem is I don’t know how long. I don't want to make nobody wait. I want to do it when I feel like it. It is going to be up to me. It has to be on my terms."
St-Pierre said he is physically "100 per cent," but needs a break for his mental health. He mentioned the pressure that comes with competing at the highest level numerous times during the call, saying the stress has become too much to handle.
"Mentally, I just feel like I can’t go through another training camp right now and I don’t know when I’ll be able to," he said. “Emotionally I need this. I’m going to take a break. I need to have a normal life for a bit.”
St-Pierre’s last fight was a controversial split-decision win in November over Johny Hendricks at UFC 167 in Las Vegas. In a post-fight interview in the cage with UFC announcer Joe Rogan he said he needed “to step away for a little bit,” immediately raising questions about his future in the sport.
White said Friday that he fully backed St-Pierre’s decision to step away.
"His legacy is he is the greatest welterweight ever," White said. “He could walk away forever if that’s what he chose to do. I honestly don’t believe he will do that. I think he will come back. He needs to button up some things in his personal life and then we’ll see him again.”
St-Pierre, 32, hasn’t lost since April 2007, a run that includes nine straight title defences. He also holds the record for most UFC victories, with 19.
White announced Hendricks will fight Robbie Lawler in the main event of UFC 171 in Dallas on March 15 for the vacant welterweight title.