One of the premier middleweights of this era, 33-year-old Luke Rockhold has held both the UFC and Strikeforce titles at 185 pounds, where he has defeated the best his division has to offer, including Chris Weidman, Michael Bisping, "Jacare" Souza, Tim Kennedy and Lyoto Machida.
"My fight at UFC 217 was one of the greatest nights of my life", St-Pierre said in a statement .
But he has chose to relinquish the title after being diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, an illness that affects his ability to remain in the 185-pound middleweight class.
The middleweight division will move forward without Georges St-Pierre at the helm. This marked his first fight since losing his middleweight title to Bisping at UFC 199 in June 2016.
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"If you're sick you're sick, but the fact is, you don't want to fight in the division", Rockhold said.
Whittaker (19-4) won the interim championship in July by defeating Yoel Romero via unanimous decision.
As a result of the situation, St-Pierre becomes the first fighter in UFC history to vacate championship belts on two occasions.
Reports have suggested that the Canadian legend's contract for his title shot against Bisping included a clause for an immediate defence against interim middleweight champion Robert Whittaker, who's been linked to an imminent clash with former title-holder Luke Rockhold.
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UFC 221 is set to go down on February 11 at the Perth Arena in Perth, Australia.
Recently MMA Fighting's Ariel Helwani reported that the UFC was looking at Whittaker - Rockhold for the Perth, Australia card, and now the outlet's reporting the bout is nearly finalized.
On Thursday, that plan changed when St-Pierre told the UFC he was giving up the title effective immediately. The former champ Rockhold, meanwhile, is coming off a stoppage win over David Branch in September.
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