Georges St-Pierre, the UFC welterweight champion and one of the best fighters in MMA history, will announce Friday that he is taking an indefinite leave of absence and relinquishing his UFC belt.
That is according to a report published by Canadian website RDS.ca and subsequently translated and tweeted by MMA reporter Ariel Helwani.
RDS.ca just reported that GSP will announce he's taking an indefinite leave from MMA and giving up his belt. http://t.co/dcWkObfcYZ— Ariel Helwani (@arielhelwani) December 13, 2013
UPDATE: St-Pierre confirmed the report himself in a previously scheduled news conference with the UFC, which took place Friday afternoon. St-Pierre said he would return to professional MMA, but said there was no immediate timetable for that return. Also on the call, UFC president Dana White said Johny Hendricks and Robbie Lawler would fight in March for the interim welterweight title.
St-Pierre last fought Nov. 16 in the main event of UFC 167, where he won a close and controversial split decision over Johny Hendricks. Immediately after that fight, St-Pierre said he wanted to "step away" from the sport "for a bit," stopping short of announcing a full retirement.
Later that same evening, St-Pierre told reporters that "I can't sleep at night...I’m going crazy. I have issues and I need to get out for a while. I don’t know what I’m going to do."
Plenty of media outlets and sources speculated over the reasons for the departure, only to see most of the reports denied or at least partially debunked soon after. For his part, St-Pierre has stayed relatively quiet, except to send the occasional message like the one he tweeted Nov. 20, telling fans to "forget all the rumors...[I am] happy and well!"
Widely considered the best welterweight in mixed martial arts history, St-Pierre captured the undisputed UFC title in 2008 and has subsequently defended the belt nine times. The 32-year-old French-Canadian has a career record of 25-2 and has not lost in more than six years.