Georges St-Pierre Trying to Lead MMA Into the Mainstream

GSP's lucrative sponsoship deals with big time brands like Gatorade are part of a push to make St-Pierre the face of the sport, or even to transcend it.

The New York Times features the star:

...if the full-contact sport is going to take the next step and graduate from being a profitable niche obsession to a franchise with broad cultural appeal - with more cross-market tie-ins, corporate sponsorships and lucrative television contracts, the way that Nascar did in the 1990s - it would help to come up with a few handsome, highly presentable ambassadors.

Mr. St-Pierre, who is still in his athletic prime, says he's ready for the job. "I'm trying to be that guy who brings the sport to the mainstream," Mr. St-Pierre said over a Thai dinner before his evening of fashion parties. "I want to be the guy who made the difference."

...

Indeed, his manager - a former investment-banking consultant in her 40s who speaks in a pillowy Georgia lilt - seems to envision the fighter, who already has endorsement deals with Gatorade and Under Armour, as a marketing force that transcends his sport. That's why she arranged his New York media tour to include television interviews outside his sport's orbit, a meet-and-greet with editors from Details and GQ and a press conference with Serena Williams to announce a new charitable foundation in partnership the Mission skin care line.

"We want people to think of him as Georges St-Pierre first, then athlete, then fighter," she said in Escalade as it lurched from party to party.

If the sport is going to truly break into the mainstream consciousness it will require one or two athletes to become major stars. GSP is making his bid now. Backed by aggressive Hollywood manager Shari Spencer and sponsors like Gatorade and Under Armour, GSP has the pieces in place.

The "X" factor is whether or not the soft spoken Canadien can truly emerge as a star. Right now he's as big as an MMA fighter gets, but he's a long long way from Michael Jordan or Shaq territory.

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