Sean ‘The Punisher’ Pierson
- Profession: Mixed martial arts fighter
- Age: 36
- Hometown: Pickering, Ont.
- The Car: 2004 BMW 530i sedan
- Holds a business administration degree from Brock University
- Five UFC fights since 2010
- Part of a Toronto-area anti-bullying program
- Sean Pierson vs. Lance Benoist at UFC 152 at ACC in Toronto on Sept. 22
Sean Pierson ditched his career as a cop to pursue the sport of ultimate fighting. And it’s paying off.
He defeated Matt Riddle during his debut match at UFC 124 in 2010. He just bounced back from a two-fight losing streak, crushing Jake Hecht at UFC on FX 3 in June. Nicknamed “The Punisher,” Pierson steps back into the cage to fight Lance Benoist at UFC 152 in Toronto on Sept. 22 – all in a bid to capture the UFC Welterweight Championship title.
To get to his training sessions, the fighter with a purple belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu drives a 2004 BMW 530i sedan.
Why did you buy a BMW 5-Series?
I’m into bigger cars and I’m into luxury. To me it’s a mix between a luxury car, but it has also got performance on the back end. I really like the 5-Series.
I’ve always wanted a BMW. It was one of those cars growing up, if you drove a BMW it was a status thing. I saw a great deal on it, loved it and went from there.
What’s the best feature on it?
The best feature is performance wise – the driveability of the car is amazing.
It’s one of those cars that you feel you’re not going that fast and all of a sudden you look down and okay, I better slow down a little bit.
What don’t you like about it?
What I had to get used to myself were the oil changes. That cheap oil change isn’t so cheap any more.
In the past, my cars were never taken care of. Because I have a BMW, it’s a little bit older, I still do all the maintenance, the oil changes, on time.
Before, I always bought a used car for going from A to B because I knew cars as a hobby is a very expensive hobby. I didn’t want to get caught up like some of my friends who bought a $4,000 Civic when we were younger and put $10,000 in it. Not the best investment in the world.
I know my personality – if I got into cars, I’d be that idiot spending thousands of dollars over what I should be on a car. Until you have the money it doesn’t make sense to go and buy expensive, dream cars.
What does a BMW say about you?
I really don’t define myself by my car. But I’m not going to lie. I like it when people see me driving around in a BMW.
The car doesn’t make the man – that’s for sure. I’m no different than I was before. I was driving my old [Pontiac] Grand Am before. It was a 2000, beaten up, and rusted out on the side.
Sometimes I just felt when people would wave to me, I’d think, ‘Great I’m in this rusted-out old car.’ Now being in a BMW I feel good about myself.
It’s a confidence thing about me as a person. I’m not driving a $100,000 car, but I’m driving a respectable, nice car. I think that says a lot about me – I take pride in myself and how I present myself to other people.
Does it have the strength and power of an MMA fighter?
It definitely does. The power in the 5-Series is crazy.
I was renting cars for about two-three months because my Grand Am died. I didn’t know what I wanted, but I didn’t go rush out and buy another car.
When you want to go somewhere and you need to pass that car in front of you it takes off. That’s really what fighting is all about, too. It’s about changing gears. You can’t always be in fifth gear. It’s about transitioning from one to the next and how smooth you do it. And that’s similar to the car – how smooth you transition from gear to gear. There are a lot of similarities between fighting and driving – that’s why driving is considered to be a sport for a lot of people.
Has all that power landed you in trouble – any speeding tickets?
No. I’m a dad now so I try and be a little more concerned, especially driving in the neighbourhood where kids are around.
On the 407 I let go a little bit, but I shouldn’t. But I don’t do anything stupid. I know that over 140-150 km/h is straight to the pound; that I can’t afford so I don’t do anything dumb like that.
What was your first car?
A Ford Tempo. It was a two-door and I tinted the windows. I was 16 years old. I worked at Subway and that’s all I could afford.
I bought that car for $1,500 and I loved it. My dad joked, ‘Why did you tint the windows – ’cause you don’t want to be seen in it?’ I drove it to the ground – all the way into university.
Then I bought my parent’s minivan off of them and we ended up cutting the middle seats out of the minivan. It was a seven-seater and we chopped the two middle seats out. We re-carpeted it, reupholstered the whole inside of the van. The outside was all stock – the entire inside was redone.
We had 10 subwoofers in the back, the audio system was crazy in it!
What’s your best memory with the minivan?
That was my favourite fun car – we’d go to the cottages and I’d put a futon mattress in the middle and I’d say, ‘See you later guys, I’m good.’
Some people would joke around saying it’s a shaggin’ wagon because its that old-school look. One time we go up to the cottage and about 20 people are there. Some people have tents everywhere and all the rooms inside have been called for. And it just started streaming down rain and it’s really windy out. And I’m in my minivan with the music playing and, all of a sudden, people are looking for places to crash.
At first, some guys were ‘Oh, that guy sleeps in his van,’ but then all of a sudden people start coming to the van, ‘Do you have room in there?’
I drove that around for a few years. And then I bought a Sunfire.
If you win the welterweight title will you buy a new car?
Not right off the bat. In an ideal situation, if I was to upgrade my car, I’d upgrade to a new 5-Series. But I love my BMW right now.
This interview has been edited and condensed.