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Chris Oth | Knuckle Junkies

1st Annual Dustin Pierson Memorial Championships

By Matt Frazier | Knuckle Junkies

On Saturday, May 12th, CMMA Fighting Systems in cooperation with the family of Dustin Pierson will hold the Dustin Pierson Memorial Championships.

One year ago the St. Louis MMA community lost a young lion in Dustin Pierson. "Duddy" as he was know by his friends and family, was a talented young amateur fighter on the verge of turning pro before his life was cut short by a motorcycle accident.

Hit hard by the loss was Pierson's training partners at Granite City's CMMA. The news of his passing rocked the close circle of athletes that through hard training forged relationships with Pierson akin to brothers.

CMMA head coach Steve Knogl remembers Pierson fondly.

"He was a fun, young guy. He had a lot of talent, a real great personality, and it was real damn shame to lose him."

As an amateur, Pierson fought at flyweight and bantamweight and was 12-2 with his only losses coming by way of Eric Acuna. He was very a promising talent and that was ranked high among local athletes in his weight classes.

Jim Jenkins of the Sport Fighting League put Pierson on several of his shows and had this to say.

"Duddy was an exciting, no quit type of fighter. Tough, in shape, and always a gamer," Jenkins said. "He was always getting better. You could see it each fight. He loved to compete."

Last year, Knogl dedicated the pavilion outside his gym in Pontoon Beach to Pierson. The team uses the Pierson Pavillion to host outdoor boxing and MMA events. It will also be the site of the annual Pierson Fighting Championships.

Each year, the card will feature a main event between two fighters on the cusp of going pro. The winner of the bout will have their name emblazoned on a plaque that will hang next to a special title belt that will remain inside the gym at CMMA. They will also receive a custom made championship belt buckle that will cost between $300-$400 that they will get to keep as a trophy. The buckle will be similar to those that professional bull riders win.

"Every year I'm going to try and find a good amateur match-up with the idea being guys that are close to turning pro," Knogl said.

Another huge bonus for winning the Championships will be the generous gift from the family of Dustin Pierson. The family will travel to whichever gym the winning fighter trains at and pay for one year of tuition. This will ensure consistent training for the fighter as they make the jump to the next level. The family witnessed first hand the struggles it takes for young amateur fighters to pay for training and hope to help take some of the pressure off the athletes.

"It's a really neat gift," Knogl said. "You can't give amateurs money. This will help them out and allow them to keep training."

While the inaugural fight will be held at bantamweight, that could change from year to year.

"The weight classes can change, but this year I'm hoping to have it at 135," Knogl said. "That was the weight class Duddy would fight at."

Kenny Nienhaus, a close friend of Pierson's has been postponing his transition into professional MMA for just this event. Nienhaus also fights bantamweight and hopes to honor Duddy's memory by winning the first ever Championships.

Taking on Nienhaus will be Josh Crouch from Seven Corner Road, a boxing gym in South City. The two were scheduled to fight previously as part of the Spire Bantamweight tournament, but Nienhaus was unable to make weight and the bout was canceled. Needless to say, the rematch is highly anticipated by both camps.

Knogl said the Championships will be a family friendly event that starts at 5:30 pm and includes live music. Throughout the night there will be approximately eight fights, with the main event being for the Memorial Championship Title.

Knogl is still looking for a few fighters to complete the May 12th card. Interested coaches and trainers should email Steve at: steve.knogl@gcsd9.net

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