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Police recruit Sean Pierson faces ultimatum: Cop or UFC fighter?Posted on Wed, Dec 15, 2010 at 8:22 am
by IDMA Editor
Sean Pierson has two budding careers ahead of him, but he gets to choose only one.
The mixed martial arts champion was recently hired by the Toronto Police. But the force says Pierson, 34, must choose between becoming a cop and becoming a famous fighter.
“I’ve been told I have to pick a dream,” he said. “I’m being asked do I want to fight or do I want to be a police officer?”
Pierson has been fighting professionally for more than a decade. And he spent four years working to become a police officer — a boyhood dream.
“Life is full of tough decisions,” said Pierson, a Pickering native.
Sean Pierson, battered after last weekend's UFC fight in Montreal, is also a Toronto Police recruit. He is being asked to choose between his two passions - photo by Rene Johnston
Pierson reached the pinnacle of his martial arts career this weekend, when he was called into UFC 124 in Montreal to replace an injured fighter. He won his welterweight match Saturday by dodging a “flying knee” from opponent Matt Riddle and then landing a massive punch to the face that dropped Riddle to the mats.
“It took my words away,” he said of receiving a standing ovation from the crowd of 23,000 at the Bell Centre.
After the fight, Pierson retreated to the dressing room, where he shed tears.
“I just got in my first UFC fight and I’m tearing up in the back. I can’t believe what just happened,” he said.
After the fight, Pierson returned to Toronto, where he was supposed to pull his first shift as a police officer. But he had to hand in his uniform and stay away from work while the force investigates his situation.
Police spokesman Tony Vella did not comment directly on Pierson’s case but said every police officer who has paid “secondary employment” must first clear it with the force. Requests for secondary employment can be denied if it constitutes a conflict of interest, Vella said. He did not elaborate on what type of job would constitute a conflict.
“I can appreciate the position they’re in with what I do,” said Pierson. “I don’t look at mixed martial arts as a negative, but I think the mainstream still looks at us as a bit of a black eye.”
Pierson started wrestling in Grade 4 and did some judo in high school. He said he remembers watching the very first UFC fight on television with friends and thinking, “I want to do that someday.”
He won his first professional MMA fight in 1999 and has been “hooked” on the sport ever since. Mixed martial arts is a full-contact sport blending wrestling, Muay Thai, judo, boxing, jiu-jitsu and other martial arts. The sport has evolved since the bare-knuckle underground fights of its beginning to a strictly regulated, highly lucrative sport with spinoff reality TV shows.
Pierson fought professionally on the Canadian circuit for years, but this weekend was his first chance at the “big leagues.” He is now hoping to get called to UFC 131 in Toronto this spring.
He also coaches mixed martial arts at a North York gym. The most important thing in his life is being a good role model to his son — Logan, 2 — and his students.
“Some people have a goal that they want to go to the world championships and stuff. That’s not my goal,” said Pierson. “I just want people to be proud of me.”
He said he doesn’t know which dream he’ll choose.