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By: Jamie Penick, MMATorch Editor-in-Chief
A statement from Anehueser-Busch this week regarding several ill-advised comments made by fighters and UFC personalities has brought a lot of heat on the organization from several advertising trade publications.
The idea that the UFC needs to do a better job policing themselves is not lost on them, and they responded this week that they're continually trying to educate their fighters to be more professional in the public eye. Now, a man considered to be the epitome of professionalism in the sport is urging his fellow fighters to follow suit.
"This is something that I've been doing since the beginning of my career," UFC Welterweight Champion Georges St-Pierre said in an interview with MMAFighting.com. "I wore a suit at press conferences when all the other fighters were making fun of me. (They said), 'Oh, look at St-Pierre, he doesn't wear his sponsor.' I'm the one who first started doing this stuff, and I think the image and how you conduct yourself ... because the sponsor, the big companies in corporate America, they're not interested in sponsoring an athlete who is good in his sport but acts like an idiot outside of the Octagon. They want someone who performs well, of course, but acts like a gentleman outside of the Octagon.
"I understood that more than ten years ago. That's why I behave the way I do and I do things that I do. That's why I have a lot of sponsors. I do have a lot of sponsors and a lot of money because of this. It brings money to the table."
St-Pierre maintains that the way he's carried himself to this point in his career - in all facets of the sport - is what has allowed him to become one of the highest paid athletes in all of MMA. If more fighters followed that example, he believes, they'd get more of those opportunities as well. Still, the fact that it hasn't caught on for tons of fighters is a concerning fact for St-Pierre.
"I'm in this business because I want to make it for a living, for money," St-Pierre said. "People don't understand that. They used to make fun of me. Now ten years after, now they start picking up on it. It's sad to see that it takes a long time for them to understand."
Penick's Analysis: Not every fighter is going to be on St-Pierre's wavelength here; then again, not every fighter's going to make the type of money he's made in his career either. It takes all types in all walks of life, but St-Pierre's not wrong about the way he carries himself as compared to his fellow fighters. Some have begun following his lead over the last several years, but again, not every fighter is wired that way. Hopefully the UFC can crack down as much as possible on the type of negative comments that have raised the profile on this issue, but it may not be something they can ever fully get a handle on.
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Jamie Penick, editor-in-chief
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