Georges St-Pierre is one of the rare MMA fighters that didn’t get played out by the system. Despite being a part of a very young sport St-Pierre knew how to position himself.
St-Pierre was in the same bag as other veterans when he made his UFC debut – his purse was $3,000 to show and $3,000 to win for his UFC debut against Karo Parisyan at UFC 46 in 2004.
But he also bet on himself big to change that. At UFC 87, against Jon Fitch, St-Pierre’s contract was set to expire. And unlike many current and past UFC aces – GSP wouldn’t re-sign before the contract expired.
“Other organizations wanted to have me as their poster boy and UFC knew that. So, like a poker bluff, we said, ‘We don’t want to re-sign before the fight — we want to just finish the contract.’ We took a big risk. Because it’s like a stock market. Your stock might go up if you’re successful, but it can also go down if you lose. But that’s what we decided to do.”
“I took a big gamble on myself and told UFC I was not going to re-sign with them. And then, the day before my fight with Jon Fitch, the UFC came back with a big, crazy contract because they didn’t want me to become a free agent,” St-Pierre wrote.
“You read I made $400,000 a match? No. I made a lot more than that. A lot more than that. Millions. When I was at the peak of my career, I was making many millions of dollars. Because you not only get the money to show and the money to win, but you also have a percentage of the gate and pay-per-view buys — the gate and the pay-per-views are where the real money is. That’s how fighters make their money. But you need to have the power to negotiate those terms.”
St Pierre also revealed he made a substantial amount for his 2017 return against Michael Bisping:
“For the fight with Michael Bisping, with the pay-per-views, the sponsorship and all that, I made about $10 million. Then in 2019, I got out. I’m very lucky and very privileged that I finished on top. The reality is most fighters finish broke and broken. They hang there too long. They get brain damage. They go broke.”
Unlike many aces in the sport, GSP is 41 and has been happily retired since 2017 – having previously taken another break from 2013 to 2017.
Recently St-Pierre shared with in an interview:
“Oh yeah. 100%. My advice would be make your money, cash out, and get the hell out of here! Preserve your health! Especially in our sport, it’s not a game. It’s very serious business. You can say you play basketball, you play hockey, but you don’t play fighting. I always wanted to retire on top. Maybe I feel that I left money on the table when I retired, because I think could have win a couple other fights against the best in the world, but I had a mental shift…”
Perhaps this story of how GSP came out ahead against the UFC is one of the reasons why Dana White is still salty about him – here’s a fighter that was paid his worth and who went out on top – twice and lived to tell about it. Not to mention that GSP was on board with a 2016 unionization effort that was ultimately short lived.