Behind the Mask

I have been asked why I would wear the mask during my walk out before MMA fights.

We became a group of friends who through pain, passion, loyalty, and hardships of life were brought together through martial arts. There is a bond that is formed during training; shedding blood together and pushing each other to our own personal limits. The dynamic team became brotherhood. A connection very few find in their lifetime.

In July 2009, we were devastated by the untimely death of one of our best friends Mike Maestas. Mikey had a unique connection to all of us. He had something inside that none of us could get a handle on, but we all wish we had . It is said that bright stars burn out fast . Mike Maestas was here and gone in a flash. We wanted to somehow keep his strong spirit close to us. This is where the image of the “mask” was born.

Mikey wore the mask as he walked out before his fights as a tribute to his favorite underground hip hop M.C. “MF DOOM” who also wore the mask.

The mask became a metaphor for change and conveyed a deeper meaning for our team. It was the person inside we become before we go to battle. A focused entity of pure thought, soul, instinct, and destiny. It represented the moment; the purity of being in the moment when nothing else matters. It was a symbol of the spirit of a fighter when he is alone-when he is free.

The Hip Hop Sun Mask represents truth, loyalty, integrity, strength, and honor. Characteristics Mikey, and the rest of our group of friends and teammates, believe in and stand for. All though not all of us listen to hip hop, Mikey would randomly text us hip hop lyrics, or the words “Hip Hop Sun!”

With those words and Mikey’s spirit,

a legend was created.

If you stand for what we stand for, then we stand together.

Hip Hop Sun

Nathan Torrez, Gerald Lovato, Carlos Condit, Mike Maestas, Donald Sanchez, Tom Vaughn, Coty Wheeler, Joe Coca, Toby Johnson (left right, top down)
Lafayette Barela, Frank Baca, Gerald Lovato