Monday, October 06, 2008
by Loretta Hunt
While the fight world awaits confirmation of a rematch with UFC lightweight champion B.J. Penn on Jan. 31, Georges St. Pierre has signed on another dotted line.
St. Pierre, 26, has joined the ranks of Derek Jeter, LeBron James and Tony Hawk, as the UFC welterweight champion has been picked up by CAA Sports, a division of the Creative Artists Agency.
CAA Sports will work in conjunction with St. Pierre’s manager, Shari Spencer, to capitalize on licensing, sponsorship and endorsement opportunities, as well as film and television appearances. Spencer will continue to steer all aspects of the affable French-Canadian’s career, including his fight contracts.
CAA Sports represents over 350 athletes across a wide sports spectrum that includes basketball, football, skiing and surfing. St. Pierre appears to be its first high-profile MMA athlete signing. In 2007, the specialized division signed MMA apparel brand Tapout, whose founders are the subject of a reality TV series of the same name on the Versus channel.
One of the top three talent agencies in the U.S., CAA’s reach goes far beyond actors and athletes -- its corporate clientele includes Coca-Cola, Sprint, Mattel, eBay, and recent UFC sponsor Harley Davidson.
In an industry where client packaging is the norm, Spencer said she had no qualms bringing others onboard to work with St. Pierre.
“This relationship is a partnership in the truest sense of the word,” Spencer told Sherdog.com. “In terms of pure deal flow, we anticipate that the relationship with CAA will provide an accelerated access to opportunities that would take me, working alone, much longer to cultivate.”
St. Pierre follows in the footsteps of UFC heavyweight champion Randy Couture, who has benefited from relationships with The Gersh Agency and the Wasserman Media Group.
In late 2007, Couture signed a national endorsement deal with Everlast to become a spokesman for its MMA equipment line. The aspiring thespian also starred in the August DVD release of “The Scorpion King 2 – Rise of a Warrior” after mastering small roles in film and TV series, including CBS’s “The Unit.”
St. Pierre’s foray into acting will take a minor role to his fighting career, most likely with single-day shoots and other opportunities that don’t disrupt his training schedule, says Spencer.
“We’re just testing the waters with small parts and guest appearances to see if he likes it,” she says.
St. Pierre (17-2) defended his 170-pound title against Jon Fitch (17-2) in tour-de-force fashion last August at UFC 87 in Minneapolis, Minn. The St. Isadore native holds key victories over former champions Matt Hughes and Matt Serra, as well as a split decision nod over Penn at UFC 58 in March 2006.
St. Pierre’s second-round decimation of Serra at UFC 83 last April drew 21,930 fans to Montreal, shattering the sport’s previous North American record.
With St. Pierre’s contract near completion, Spencer went into renegotiations with Zuffa LLC, parent company of the UFC, this summer. Though she could not confirm her client’s status, St. Pierre is expected back in the Octagon to meet Penn a second time on Jan. 31.