A relaxed and happy sounding Georges St-Pierre called into Ariel Helwani’s MMA Hour show to discuss life and the possibility of a UFC return on Tuesday, and it sounds like he’s ready to fight again. Whether he and the UFC can come to terms on a deal to make that happen is another story altogether.
“There is three things in life that excite me,” he said during his phone interview. “There’s a woman of course, dinosaurs and the violence of the Octagon.”
We’re sure St-Pierre isn’t lacking in the women department, and he’s just kicked off a new show on the History channel about Dinosaurs called The Boneyard. So that leaves the violence of the Octagon as the only excitement he hasn’t been experiencing lately. So what’s keeping him from stepping back in the cage? The UFC’s uniform deal with Reebok.
“It changed a lot of things in my contract,” St-Pierre told Helwani. “We need to renegotiate maybe a new contract. I’m not allowed to wear my sponsors anymore, and I lose money. It depends how it’s gonna go down with the UFC. We’ll see what’s gonna happen.”
According to a Forbes article from 2013, Georges St-Pierre made nearly five million dollars per fight from the UFC, with an extra 1.5 million in sponsorship. But with the UFC’s Reebok deal barring fighters from promoting any sponsors in the cage or during fight week, it changes the economics of the situation. At this point with the agents he has, Pierre could be losing five million in sponsorship money alone. That’s money his managers probably want the UFC to make up for either partially or in full.
It’s just another example of how the Reebok deal continues to hurt the UFC, fighters, and fans. The fighters relied on sponsors to fill the income gap when elusive UFC bonuses or title shots aren’t handed out. For many of them, they made more this way than in purse money. Years ago, Dana White used the large amounts of sponsorship money fighters could make to justify why the promotion payed so little. With the Reebok deal in place, the pay has remained the same, but the sponsorship money is gone.
And now it’s hurting the UFC, because they’re being forced to pony up the difference when major stars like Georges St-Pierre refuse to simply eat a multi-million dollar loss in their income. Or maybe they won’t, and us fans will be denied a chance to see Georges St-Pierre compete in several superfights before retiring for good.
That’s an awfully high price to pay for a uniform deal that has resulted in a homogenization of fighters and the destruction of a once thriving clothing and merchandise industry that supported the fighters. We can only hope the UFC is willing to put down the money to bring GSP back … and maybe while they’re at it they can ditch this Reebok deal that has caused nothing but problems for the sport since it came into effect.