While training for a new opponent on less than three weeks notice isn't ideal, it definitely isn't the toughest task the 35-year-old has been forced to confront since winning his UFC debut in December.
Shortly after his win over Matt Riddle at UFC 124, Pierson was set to begin a new job as a Toronto Police officer. However, after his Octagon debut, the Toronto Police Service asked Pierson to choose between continuing his UFC career or beginning a new one as a police officer. He couldn't do both, they said.
Pierson, who began his MMA career in 1999, chose to stick with the UFC.
"I chose to follow the dream," Pierson said. "I've been dreaming of this for 15 years to try and get into the UFC, so it's a one-time shot, and I was going to go for it."
Reports out of Toronto stated that Toronto Police's main concern was over his old "Pimp Daddy" nickname. However, Pierson said he believed their issue was more about much time he would have to devote to his new UFC career.
"[I was] definitely disappointed, but looking back, I understand the situation. I'm in a situation where two careers, they're both very time-consuming, especially when you first start up. I think it would be a different story if I was already in the force for five, six, seven years, then I think I could do it. But when you're just starting off, there's a lot of work involved. I think it was just a concern where my focus was going to be. The truth of the matter is I like the way my life has turned out and where we are headed right now. I have no regrets."
Pierson hasn't closed the door on one day pursuing a job with Toronto Police, but he isn't sure right now whether that door will be open to him.
"To be honest, I have no idea. I hope the door is not fully closed, but I know there's going to be some difficult hurdles for me to overcome if I choose to go back in that path."
Nothing has come easy for the Canadian welterweight throughout his almost 12-year run in MMA. He left MMA between 2003 and 2007 to start a family, went 5-1 upon his return to the sport before being offered a spot in last year's Bellator welterweight tournament but then had to pull out due to a knee injury.
Pierson once thought his big break had passed him by. He told MMA Fighting before his UFC debut that he thought "1000 times" to go back to a normal life again. Then he got a call in late October from the UFC asking if he would want to replace an injured T.J. Waldburger against Riddle at UFC 124.
Pierson won a slugfest against Riddle, positioning him to fight on the first UFC card in his hometown of Toronto.
On April 29, he'll compete in front of 55,000 people inside the Rogers Centre, which is located just 20 minutes from where he trains. It will mark the first time he fights in his home province of Ontario.
Pierson followed a dream and made it to the UFC. Another one will come true in a little over two weeks.
"I'm not a big religious guy or anything like that, but you know, a little bit of karma. Good things happen after bad things happen. When one door shuts another one opens. I just feel you gotta keep being positive and keep going with it. Again, there's still going to be a few more bumps in the road to come along, but right now I have a great family, a little son, and I couldn't be happier. I'm not looking back right now."
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