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Mixed martial arts

St. Pierre vacates UFC title, will take a break

UFC welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre vacated his title Friday, citing a desire for a lengthy break from mixed martial arts.

St. Pierre said he believes he will eventually return to the sport, but doesn’t want to block other fighters’ advancement in the welterweight division. The Canadian plans to take a break from the relentless pressure of training and sort out unspecified personal problems.

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“I can’t hold on to my title for the respect of the other competitors,” St. Pierre said. “One day when I feel like it, I might come back, but right now I need a break.”

The 32-year-old Canadian has been UFC’s 170-pound champion for nearly six years, winning 12 straight fights — with nine consecutive title defenses. He beat Johny Hendricks by split decision last month at UFC 167 in Las Vegas.

“I never felt better physically,” St. Pierre said. “For me, it’s mental. It’s a lot of pressure. For me in order to keep my mental equilibrium, for me emotionally, I need this. I need to have a normal life for a bit, and I’ll feel better and come back stronger.”

Hendricks will fight Robbie Lawler on March 15 in Dallas for the vacant welterweight title.

St. Pierre (25-2) has been generally considered the UFC’s biggest pay-per-view draw since the departure of heavyweight Brock Lesnar, defeating every challenger in the welterweight division with superb technical skill.

“It’s been a long time I wanted to do this,” St. Pierre said of his break. “It built up on my shoulders, training camp after training camp. I have personal things I want to do. My life is a … zoo right now. I need to take a break.”


Niccum earns berth in Sochi Olympics

Two-time Olympian Christian Niccum of Woodinville and Jayson Terdiman of Berwick, Pa., placed 11th in a World Cup doubles race in Park City, Utah.

But Niccum, 35, and Terdiman, 24, won the race that mattered most. They prevailed in a raceoff over fellow Americans Jake Hyrns and Andrew Sherk, capturing the second and final doubles spot allocated to USA Luge for the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia.


Maryland, Notre Dame advance to men’s final

Patrick Mullins scored his 17th and 18th goals of the season to lead Maryland to a 2-1 victory over Virginia in the NCAA men’s semifinals at PPL Park in Chester, Pa.

The Terrapins (17-3-5) will compete for their third national championship in the last nine years when they face Notre Dame — a 2-0 semifinal winner over New Mexico — in the title match Sunday.

Earlier, Patrick Hodan scored twice and goalkeeper Patrick Walls made five saves for the Fighting Irish (16-1-6). Notre Dame is making its first College Cup appearance.

Sporting KC adds Zizzo

MLS Cup champion Sporting Kansas City acquired midfielder Sal Zizzo, 26, from the Portland Timbers for allocation money.

Zizzo was a Timber for the last three Major League Soccer seasons and had two goals and seven assists.

Horse racing

Castellano sets record

Jockey Javier Castellano set a season earnings record when he won the third race at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, Fla. That victory increased the 36-year-old rider’s purse earnings to $25,655,988, surpassing the mark of $25,634,852 set last year by Ramon Dominguez.


Jorge Campillo of Spain and Colin Nel of South Africa shot 59s in the second round of the rain-affected Nelson Mandela Championship in Durban, South Africa, although their scores won’t count as a European Tour record because players were allowed to use preferred lies on the soaked golf course.

Campillo had a share of the clubhouse lead at 11-under 129 with England’s Matthew Baldwin (62). Nel moved to 4 under.

Daniel Brooks led at 12 under with seven holes to play.

• Defending champions Kenny Perry and Sean O’Hair shot an 8-under 64 in modified alternate-shot play for a share of the first-round lead in the Franklin Templeton Shootout, a 24-team golf tournament.

The teams of Matt Kuchar-Harris English and Charles Howell III-Justin Leonard also had 64s in Naples, Fla.

Sergio Garcia had a hole-in-one on the 236-yard eighth hole and finished with a 7-under 65 for a share of the second-round lead with Justin Rose in the Thailand Golf Championship in Chonburi.

Rose, the U.S. Open champion, had a 68 to match Garcia at 11-under 133.

• Iranian wrestler Amir Ali Akbari has been banned for life and stripped of his world Greco-Roman heavyweight title for doping. He tested positive for steroids at the world championships in September.

• World all-around champion Simone Biles, Kyla Ross and Sam Mikulak will be on the U.S. team for American Cup gymnastics March 1 in Greensboro, N.C.

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