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LL 11-16-2012 10:18 AM

The Georges St-Pierre business is booming

Georges St-Pierre will earn a hefty paycheck when he defends his title against Carlos Condit at UFC 154 in Montreal's Bell Centre on Saturday night, but the 31-year-old Canadian doesn't fight for the money anymore. He doesn't have to.

That's because within the past couple years of his lengthy title reign, the UFC welterweight champion has become a business unto himself. And even with a knee injury that has kept him out of the cage for more than 18 months, business is booming for the man known as GSP.

For instance, just in the last 12 months St-Pierre has signed lucrative endorsement deals with companies such as Coca-Cola, Google and Bacardi. He's got a deal with HarperCollins to write a book that he describes as part autobiography and part philosophy ("kind of like 'The Art of War,'" St-Pierre said). He's also renewed his apparel deal with Under Armour and signed one with noted MMA equipment manufacturer Hayabusa, all despite not setting foot in the UFC octagon since April of 2011 thanks to a torn ACL in his right knee.

According to industry sources, St-Pierre currently has 14 endorsement deals with each paying him somewhere in the six-figure range. If you tally up the numbers from past and present deals, his income outside the cage is well into eight figures, sources say, with much of it coming in the past year alone.

The question is, how does a fighter who hasn't fought in more than a year-and-a-half become such a magnet for blue chip sponsors while sitting on the sidelines? The answer, according to those who know him best, has to do with both St-Pierre's squeaky-clean image outside the cage and the team of high-powered agents in his corner.

"He's a superstar, and he was a superstar when we met him," said Mike Fonseca of Creative Artists Agency (CAA), which has represented St-Pierre for the past four years. "We just had to take him and figure out how we were going to market him."

The initial difficulty, according to Fonseca, lay not with St-Pierre's image but with the sport's. Most of the companies CAA first reached out to had heard of mixed martial arts and the UFC, but few thought that professional cagefighting was something worth hitching their wagon to.

"The first two years there were a lot of brands that wouldn't meet with us, wouldn't take our calls on this, and basically said, listen, we work with you on other clients, but this is not a sport we're interested in," Fonseca said.

It was a position that the team at CAA understood, he added, because they'd once felt that way themselves.

"As an agency, we were nervous about the sport," Fonseca said. "We didn't know much about it, but we sat down with Georges, and we fell in love with the guy. He's a really unique, interesting guy. I consider him sort of a Renaissance man. He's clearly one of the toughest pound-for-pound guys in the world, but he's also this really sweet, humble, articulate gentleman who wears suits everywhere. He's a different kind of guy."

That's why CAA gambled that the same things that put them at ease – St-Pierre's natural charm, his intelligence and his ability to avoid negative press – would be as successful in wooing even conservative brands such as Coca-Cola, which recently tapped St-Pierre as a spokesman for its NOS energy drink.

"We spent a lot of time with the Coke team in those meetings, getting them used to Georges and how they can use him," Fonseca said. "They're a very risk-averse company, but to Georges' credit, people fall in love with him."

That's good news not only for St-Pierre, who acknowledged that he's already made enough from fighting and endorsements to retire comfortably whenever he chooses, but also for the UFC and the sport itself. The would-be sponsors who once thought of MMA fighters as little more than glorified bar bouncers who would sully their image are now learning otherwise, thanks to GSP.

"I think what they want is a good athlete, somebody who has success in the sport, but also somebody who carries himself well outside of the sport," St-Pierre said. "They want a good spokesman and role model with a good image. That's who I am."

That combination of star-power and a safe image is not lost on UFC President Dana White, who insists that St-Pierre (22-2 MMA, 16-2 UFC) is "the biggest pay-per-view draw we've got." The welterweight champion, who meets interim champ Condit (28-5 MMA, 5-1 UFC) in a heavily promoted title-unification bout on Saturday, is also someone whom White has come to rely on as an ambassador for the company – and one of the few fighters he feels comfortable bringing to even non-fight-related meetings.

"There's no doubt that a guy like Georges St-Pierre helps the sport and the overall business," White said. "He's a guy you can rely on in every way, shape and form. He's a guy you can build your business around. You don't have to worry at night that you're going to wake up tomorrow with TMZ calling you saying crazy s---. Not with him."

While other UFC fighters and even champions have made news with DUI arrests or embarrassing public displays, St-Pierre has maintained his image of the philosophizing gentleman fighter, free of even the hint of scandal. That's helped make him a wealthy man both in and out of the cage, White said. But it also ensured that the UFC felt every month of his absence, especially when it came to PPV revenue.

"It hurts bad," White said. "It sucks. Listen, guys are going to get hurt and whatever, but you don't want GSP out."

Of course, that begs the question of what will happen when St-Pierre decides he's had enough of the rough business of professional fighting. With all the money he's made as champion, he no longer needs to do it for financial necessity, just like he no longer needs to slap the logo of whatever sponsors will have him onto his shorts in order to make an extra buck.

"I don't take any sponsors now that don't fit with me," St-Pierre said. "I don't do anything because I have to now. I do it because I want to."

So what happens when he doesn't want to fight anymore, and the UFC loses its biggest PPV draw? White's already considered that, though he insists he'd never try to talk a fighter into sticking around in such a dangerous sport just for the money – especially when his brand outside the cage is as lucrative as St-Pierre's is.

"He's been at that point for a while," White said. "It all depends on what your number is, what's your 'game over' number. But it's not about that for GSP. He's had 'game over' money for a long time."

In fact, St-Pierre said, he even considered calling it a career during a difficult rehabilitation process following his knee surgery this past December. He didn't want to return to the cage at anything less than full power, he said, and he was fortunate enough in the financial department that he didn't have to. If his body wasn't up to it, he knew he could retire.

"But I don't want to retire," St-Pierre said. "I love what I do for a living. I'm more motivated now than I have been in a long time. I want to do this for a long time. I want to be the best – the best ever."

St-Pierre has already eclipsed his peers in the earnings category, thanks to a sound business sense and a team of heavy-hitting agents. Now that he's finally healthy enough to return to action, he can set his sights on picking up where he left off in the win column as well.

For more on UFC 154, stay tuned to the UFC Rumors section of the site.

Dude's doing well for himself, he's all over the Under Armour site. Wonder how much Anderson makes with Nike and Burger King.

rabakill 11-16-2012 10:58 AM

Hard work and discipline paid off

No_Mercy 11-16-2012 11:02 AM

He's worth $14million.

LHW title holder - $2million
Hendo - $2million
Stephan Bonnar - $500,000
Chael Sonnen - $4 million (motor mouths do work)
Matt Hughes - $5 million
Nate Diaz - $500,000 (Smokes most of his profits I'd imagine on quarter pounders.)
JDS - $3 million
Mayhem - $4 million (Surprise! He aint as dumb as he looks. But he is zany.)
Wife #2 Arianny Celeste - $1million

Anderson Silva - $8 million

That is all...

rabakill 11-16-2012 11:15 AM

Anderson Silva is worth way more than 8 million and GSP is worth way more than 14. Where did you come up with those numbers? (celebrity or something like that I'm guessing) The article said GSP made 10+ million in the past year alone

No_Mercy 11-16-2012 11:19 AM


Originally Posted by rabakill (Post 1647782)
Anderson Silva is worth way more than 8 million and GSP is worth way more than 14. Where did you come up with those numbers? (celebrity or something like that I'm guessing) The article said GSP made 10+ million in the past year alone

I'd say it's pretty accurate.

rabakill 11-16-2012 11:20 AM

So GSP earned 10 million in one year and 4 million the rest of his career?

LL 11-16-2012 11:24 AM


Originally Posted by rabakill (Post 1647784)
So GSP earned 10 million in one year and 4 million the rest of his career?

He's openly said he gets about five million for each fight.

No_Mercy 11-16-2012 11:26 AM

He just signed those lucrative sponsorships so it probably hasn't kicked in yet. He could very well be the highest paid MMA fighter. As of those figures he is. Tito I think has $15million and Chuck slightly less. Yes based on Celebrity Networth. But you gotta remember this sport is fairly new. These figures were UNHEARD of a decade ago and a few years ago. I've done shows and the highest was $25k-$40k - ex-UFC fighters whom I won't mention. That was a deal too.

If you think about it that's a lot of money for a show where most make that in a year. So GSP and the current champs making millions is an incredible jump. Look at Tank Abbott, Ken Shamrock, Royce Gracie, Don Frye, etc...etc. They're negatives with the exception of Royce since he has a studio. But you know what I mean.

GSP is probably the first MMA true superstar surpassing Chuck and Tito. The only thing holding him back is his thick French accent otherwise he would be the next Van Damme 100%. He's represented by CAA whom I have a contact with if you know who they are. He's well taken care so yah I don't doubt as of the recent sponsorship signings his net worth may have jumped.

What other references do we have unless you want to do some forensic accounting. If he has more, definitely good for em. Heck they all deserve it. It's their livelihood to make us fans happy.

Hellboy 11-16-2012 07:33 PM

No wonder he doesn't want to fight Anderson.

Stay at 170 and fight Kampmann or Hendricks and keep collecting the easy money.

Canadian Psycho 11-16-2012 07:34 PM

GSP money > Anderson Silva money

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