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Georges St-Pierre's advice to current headliners: 'You need to see your career as a business'

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Guilherme Cruz

Few elite mixed martial artists have managed to parlay their brand as successfully as former longtime UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre.

The Montreal native evolved into the sport's biggest draw and attracted mainstream sponsorships from leading mainstream sports-related products like Gatorade and Under Armour along the way.

Other fighters - like current UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo Jr. and flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson - are just as dominant in their weight class as St-Pierre, skills-wise, but haven't broken through to the masses the way the beloved Canadian has.

On a recent edition of Chael Sonnen's "You're Welcome" broadcast, St-Pierre, while not calling out other fighters by name, was asked to give his advice on how to make the most of their time in the spotlight.

"One thing I can advise the professional athlete in mixed martial arts, you have to take it in a way that, you need to see your career as a business," St-Pierre said. "I'm not qualified, I'm not competent for business because I'm a martial artist. I am competent to fight. So, when it is time to negotiate deals, or deal with my taxes or lawyer, I'm hiring the best people, the people I could find most competent for the job."

It's not as if St-Pierre didn't face the same stumbling blocks many other fighters encountered on his way up. He made multiple management changes over the years and been through legal issues before landing with Hollywood-bigwig Creative Artists Agency.

"I don't try to do this stuff myself or to pick one of my friends. A lot of fighters, they got caught up in those kind of things and I did myself as well, I had a lot of problems, I got different law disputes and stuff like that, I lost a lot of money. I made a lot of money, but I could have made way more. I'm lucky because it happened in the beginning of my career, and I learned from those mistakes."

The problem, as GSP sees it, is that a young fighter who is naive to the business and just getting his first taste of the limelight can fall prey to some of the seedier characters on the periphery of the business.

"The problem, when you are going up, you have a lot of fake friends, a lot of people who tell you ‘you can trust me,' and this and that" St-Pierre said. "It happened to me. I'm not better than anyone else. I got my share of mistakes as well. But I got lucky. ... You need good people around you to make the most and assure yourself a future."

While from all accounts, St-Pierre is in a solid position for life after fighting, that doesn't keep him from feeling bad for fighters not in the same position.

"Nothing breaks my heart more than in this world than to see an athlete who has an outstanding career and then when he is finished, he retires, he is broke," St-Pierre said. "I heard that in newspapers in documentaries. I've seen it many times in football and MMA and it broke my heart. Please guys, make sure you are well surrounded, not by friends but by competent people."