Georges St. Pierre and Josh Koscheck: Stephen Fernandez / Splash News
Georges St. Pierre embraced Josh Koscheck after beating him at UFC 124 and seemed to dismiss Koscheck’s trash talk as hype for their fight. However, Shari Spencer, GSP’s manager, recently made it clear that the animosity was real.
“I don’t think it was pretend, but I do think it’s behind them, if that makes sense,” Spencer said on the Sherdog Radio Network’s “Beatdown” show. “I think there’s a difference when the hype is simply just for the sake of hype and when it is maybe exaggerated a bit for the sake of hype but yet the animosity is real. It’s behind them after the fight. They move on; they’re professionals. I don’t necessarily agree that it’s all pretend, and so I think that keeps some legitimacy going. I think there was true animosity between the two of them. There’s no doubt about that in my mind.”
St. Pierre dominated the fight, winning a unanimous decision and beating Koscheck for the second time. He has now won eight straight since his April 2007 upset loss to Matt Serra, a defeat that led some to question St. Pierre’s mental fortitude. Those days seem long gone.
“I don’t know that the mental aspect of it was as large as it was played out to be,” Spencer said. “Dana made the comment, I think one time, ‘Which Georges St. Pierre is going to show up?’ Or something along those lines. I think it was overplayed, but I definitely think that as time goes on, it becomes more and more difficult to get inside Georges’ head.”
Despite his dominance since the Serra loss, St. Pierre still has some critics. Detractors point to the four times he’s gone the distance in his last five bouts, suggesting he fights conservatively to avoid another loss. The lack of finishes could be explained by the stellar competition he’s fought, though. Spencer, for one, does not sound worried about the impact of another loss on GSP’s career.
“From a marketing perspective, I think there are many fighters who are extremely marketable but that don’t have the record that Georges’ does and that losses don’t always affect your marketability,” she said. “He’s also said that when he lost to Matt Hughes, he ended up getting many more fans than when he was winning. Randy Couture has a few losses on his record, and he’s one of the best-loved fighters of all time. … I don’t think our corporate sponsors are expecting a win or they’re going to pull out. We don’t feel that weight at all. Not at all.”
Spencer has helped St. Pierre become one of the few mixed martial artists to cross over into the mainstream with sponsors such as Gatorade and Under Armour. She credits his ability to separate himself from conventional views on fighters.
“I think he’s less of a typical stereotype of what the mainstream thinks of MMA and at one point what I thought of MMA -- that it’s mainly testosterone-laden, tatted up, pierced guys,” Spencer said. “That’s what most people still think. Slowly but surely we’re chipping away at that perception. Here you’ve got a good-looking, clean-cut guy, wears a suit at the press conference, doesn’t trash talk. He’s much more mainstream America than the sport is. I think that’s why he has that ability.”
In addition to sponsorship money, St. Pierre also has his own branded merchandise, which is yet another stream of income. Of course he’s still a fighter first and will be receiving a percentage of the pay-per-view revenue UFC 124 generated.
“I haven’t heard any estimates yet on the pay-per-views. I would think they did pretty well given the prefight hype,” Spencer said. “I think I owe Josh Koscheck a really big Christmas present because he did a great job of making everybody want to tune in and see the fight.”
Listen to the full interview (beginning at 28:24) with Spencer.