(Related viewing: The author’s February 2011 interview with St. Pierre at the premiere of ‘The Striking Truth’.)
All athletes and entertainers have fans. Some of them happen to be female. Many prominent MMA fighters have interesting stories about the constant attention and casual encounters they had during their time in the limelight.
Take this exchange from an interview Bas Rutten did with Quinton Jackson in 2011:
BAS RUTTEN: “What has changed the most for you since PRIDE?”
RAMPAGE JACKSON: “I got less Asian groupies!” (laughter)
Yet The Way of the Fight gives us no glimpse into GSP’s overflowing cup of good fortune. It’s just the opposite — St-Pierre relates a story of his early travels to John Danaher’s academy in New York where his then-girlfriend tells him she finds BJJ expert Sean Williams “very good-looking.”
“Let’s just say I started going to New York alone after that trip,” says St-Pierre, who makes no mention whatsoever of the attention he was getting, even at that time in his MMA career.
That GSP often whitewashes over many personal details is no secret to fans. Justin Kingsley, the individual who co-wrote The Way of the Fight, works as vice-president of the media and public relations division of “Commercial Creativity” (marketing) company Sid Lee. Kingsley merely continued the process of airbrushing GSP’s public persona in order to promote a controversy-free version of the GSP brand more suitable for mass acceptance.
THE UFC’S BUSINESS PRACTICES
There is little or no mention of dollar amounts or contractual details between St-Pierre and the UFC. That St-Pierre did not disclose this information is a sign of intelligence, as it’s believed that the juicy bits of information BJ Penn revealed in Why I Fight were the reason why Dana White publically lambasted BJ Penn upon publication of Penn’s book, and fired the book’s co-author from his freelance work with the UFC.
St-Pierre has plenty of praise for his current co-manager Rodolphe Beaulieu, devoting an entire section of the book to his business dealings. Yet even outside GSP’s compensation from the UFC, there are points of contention with regards to the rights St-Pierre has signed away to the UFC for the privilege of risking his brain and body for the organization’s benefit.
There was no UFC fight footage of St-Pierre in the 2011 documentary The Striking Truth, which centered on the lives of GSP and his longtime friend/training partner David “The Crow” Loiseau. Consequently, the documentary suffered the same way James Toback’s Tyson would have if footage of Mike Tyson‘s fights were not available for use in the movie. If manager Rodolphe Beaulieu has any business acumen, he will find a way to get permission to use UFC fight footage for the upcoming St-Pierre documentary The DNA of GSP, due out in fall of 2013.
In a similar vein, St-Pierre made the terrible decision to sign away his video game likeness rights to the UFC for video game manufacturer THQ to utilize in their Undisputed video games. St-Pierre got an endorsement deal to promote video game Sleeping Dogs, but the game did not feature his likeness. If GSP were allowed to license his own image for video games, the possibilities — and profits — would be endless.
There are a myriad of contractual clauses in St-Pierre’s UFC contract that restrict both St-Pierre’s earning potential and his freedom. Credit to co-managers Beaulieu and Lepage for scoring St-Pierre blue-chip sponsors, book deals, movie parts, paid signings, seminars, and a host of other “passive income” opportunities. But they have to look at the big picture of not allowing the GSP brand to be drowned out by the static and cacophony of the UFC brand.
St-Pierre told SI.com’s Loretta Hunt, “One day, another book will come and I will talk about [my private life], but now there’s a lot of things I can’t talk about in my life because it’s still happening right now. It’s going to be a good second book, maybe, someday.”
A book that conflicts with either the current brand GSP has created or the UFC brass is likely years away from publication. Whether St-Pierre can surmount the legal obstacles inherent in speaking of his business dealings is another matter, altogether.
The Way of the Fight delivers as advertised, and gives readers much more. We should not overlook the brilliance of what St-Pierre has given us so far by measuring it against a future book. But even St-Pierre knows that he’s just scratching the surface so far.
GSP is writing a new page in his story each day. When it’s time, when he feels ready, he may dazzle us again with an exponentially superior book. The fans will be waiting.
Brian J. D’Souza is the author of the recently published book Pound for Pound: The Modern Gladiators of Mixed Martial Arts. You can check out an excerpt right here.