One of the narratives constantly following the sport is how much an athlete can build an image on his own. To become a brand all by yourself is quickly becoming a reality. We're a little bit distanced from the days of Tapout, and Kenny Florian sipping a closed can of Xyience, in other words.
Sponsors have to be diligent when it comes to the MMA landscape, however. The world of mixed martial arts is littered with landmines from the sponsor perspective. Some are small, like Jon Jones' DWI, while others are historic disasters. Mixed martial arts happily crafts its image in the shape of bloodied athletes, so the search for class embodied by an athlete can prove to be more difficult than it should.
Few athletes sincerely embody class the way Georges St. Pierre does, so that he's nabbing a blue chip sponsor deal is only logical.
"I feel privilaged to be in the family of Coca-Cola. NOS is a great energy drink. Sometimes you need a kick, being tired, you know? It's perfectly suited for an athlete like me", GSP added in our interview for Bloody Elbow.
NOS is one of the biggest energy drink companies in the world. They currently sponsor Ricky Stenhouse Jr, along with other NASCAR notables. And they're also the official energy drink of Major League Gaming; a league I'm ashamed to know little about, especially considering Street Fighter 4 is an official religion in my household.
Though looking at their website, it appears Mortal Kombat is one of their religions of choice; a game I remember fondly for being a good movie (from the perspective of a 15 year old), and its infamous violence, which was brilliantly parodied by another video game, of all things.
The pairing of NOS and GSP signals another major sponsor hat thrown into the octagon. Arjun Chowdri, the Director of Sports and Entertainment Marketing at Coca-Cola, communicated to me the significance of this marriage, echoing what I wrote; that GSP is the consummate professional, and a godsend for people that want to do business with a sport that continues to struggle, and grow at the same time.
Pictures of GSP behind the scenes, hitting a heavy bag that appears to have offered more resistance than Dan Hardy, and drinking NOS after the jump...