Robert Whittaker has been crowned UFC middleweight champion after Canadian star Georges St-Pierre vacated the title.

The New Zealand-born Whittaker, who has lived in Australia for most of his life, has also been guaranteed a first defence on home soil - against American Luke Rockhold at UFC 221 in Perth next February, according to Sydney's Daily Telegraph.

Last month, Whittaker was at New York's Madison Square Garden as St-Pierre, returning after an absence of four years at UFC 217, choked out Englishman Michael Bisping to become middleweight king.

Since then, however, the Canadian superstar has been diagnosed with colitis and he has decided to vacate his title.

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A UFC official confirmed to the Daily Telegraph today that Whittaker would take over St-Pierre's title.

"Middleweight champion Georges St-Pierre is vacating his world title effective immediately,'' the official said. "And Robert Whittaker has been elevated to undisputed champion".

The company also provided The Daily Telegraph with a release which quoted St-Pierre saying: "My fight at UFC 217 was one of the greatest nights of my life.

"But I now need to take some time to focus on my health. Out of respect to the athletes and the sport, I don't want to hold up the division.

"I will be giving up my belt and once I'm healthy I look forward to working with the UFC to determine what's next in my career."

The UFC also confirmed Whittaker would fight No. 3 challenger Rockhold in Perth.