Georges St-Pierre steps away

Updated: December 14, 2013, 2:15 AM ET
By Josh Gross | ESPN.com

UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre announced Friday that he will step away from fighting for an undetermined period of time.

As such, St-Pierre will relinquish the UFC belt one month after retaining his title for the ninth time in a controversial decision over Johny Hendricks in Las Vegas.

UFC president Dana White announced that, in lieu of St-Pierre, Hendricks has been tabbed to fight Robbie Lawler for the vacant strap March 15 in Dallas.

St-Pierre, 32, cited personal issues and a severe reaction to the intensifying pressure of being a star athlete for his decision to walk away at this time.

"My life is a frickin' zoo right now," the Montreal native said during a teleconference.

St-Pierre refused to explain the nature of his personal issues. During a question-and-answer session at an event in Quebec City following the announcement, he said he will consult with his family about the direction of his career.

The three-time Canadian athlete of the year will continue to train and improve on his considerable skills, he said. However, he did not wish to think about fighting at this time and didn't consider it fair to hold up an expansive list of contenders beneath him.

"I'm content," St-Pierre said. "It's a lot of things I wanted to do. I wanted to be the greatest, and also I said before when I do things, I want to do things to be remembered, to make a difference in the sport, make the sport reach another level. I'm trying to do it during my last fight. Unfortunately, it did not work. These people are not ready for it. I tried to do my best."

St-Pierre was alluding to his disappointment regarding the scope of drug testing leading up to his fight with Hendricks on Nov. 16 in Las Vegas, the fighter's manager, Rodolphe Beaulieu, told ESPN.com.

St-Pierre said he hoped for a normal life and that he didn't "want people thinking about me."

He has been outstanding as a competitor for the UFC, standing as champion twice since 2006 while posting a 25-2 record. The fighter said he was 100 percent healthy and ready to physically compete, but mentally he was ill-prepared to step in the cage at this time.

St-Pierre is the most successful draw on pay-per-view for the UFC, but White noted this is part of the business.

"He's got these issues that he needs to deal with, and once he deals with them, he can focus on training and being a fighter again," White said.

St-Pierre left the door wide open to returning.

"If I decide to come back, I will be at the top of the game," he said.

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