Photo Credit: UFC

Erik Perez Will Celebrate Mexican Heritage By Wearing Luchador Mask To Cage At UFC 155


August 11, 2012; Denver, CO, USA; Erik Perez reacts after defeating Ken Stone (not pictured) during UFC 150 at the Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

In the past the UFC has had strict guidelines that prohibit their fighters from wearing masks or unauthorized head gear to the cage for their fights, but for the year end show at the MGM Grand Garden they will be making an acception.

UFC president Dana White has agreed to allow the organization’s first 100 percent Mexican fighter to wear a luchador mask to the cage.

Perez was hoping to wear a mask to the cage for his UFC debut on June 1st at ‘The Ultimate Fighter: Live Finale,’ but his request was denied. However, after a lot of pleading to White, Perez received permission to wear the luchador mask this weekend. The UFC marketing team was involved in designing Perez’s mask, but it was finalized by Victor Martinez, who is one of the most notable luchador mask creators. He and his father have been involved in masking many of the top Mexican figures.

To Perez, being able to wear the mask to the cage means more to him than anyone can imagine. It takes him back to his childhood when he used to look up to the masked warriors.

“When I was a child, the masked warriors were people who never gave up, never stopped fighting no matter the odds, and fought with pride and warrior spirit,” Perez said. “I think all Latinos are luchadors, maybe not in the Octagon, but in life, and by putting on the mask, I become each and every one of them and they become me.

“Maybe this will have some magic,. The guy who made this mask is super famous. His father did the masks for El Santo and Blue Demon and I think that will make some magic it in for me.”

Perez trains out of  Jackson’s MMA in Albuquerque, New Mexico and will be facing Byron Bloodworth at the UFC year end show — UFC 155, which is headlined by a heavyweight title bout between champion Junior Dos Santos and Mexican-American star Cain Velasquez.

“For me, the tradition of the Mexican warrior started a long time ago with our ancestors,” Perez said.

“The Mayan warriors, the Aztecs would wear masks, an eagle mask, a jaguar mask when they went to go to war. To be a masked warrior to me is a huge honor. I grew up at a young age watching lucha libre. My Dad would take me to see all the heroes of lucha libre as a boy. I grew up watching the old movies with El Santo, or watching the Blue Demon wrestle.

“Octagon was my favorite Luchador. He was a martial artist and would use kicks and punches against the bad guys. I wanted to be Octagon when I grew up. I wanted to be a martial artist and fight with honor and Mexican pride when I grew up. I would wear his mask and pretend I was brave and strong like he always was. He was like Spider-Man or Captain America to American kids.

“I grew up always wanting to be a luchador. I think that all Mexicans are luchadores. All Latinos fight, maybe not in the ring, but in life. Fighters in life! That is what a luchador represents to me, somebody that never gives in or gives up, somebody that is always there, somebody that gives their all.”

It’s great to see White and UFC CEO Lorenzo Fertitta loosen up their restrictions and allow Perez to wear his mask. As they continue to appeal to broader audiences and more international fan bases, allowing key parts of those cultures will go a long way in their mass appeal to different nations.

The luchador mask with Perez is a brilliant start. You can be sure that many fans will want to get their hands on one of the masks Perez wears to the cage.

Here is a design of Perez’s mask for UFC 155, being showcased by Victor Martinez:

What do you think of the UFC’s decision to allow Perez to wear the luchador mask? Is the masked warrior something the organization should embrace to allow fighters to create their own brand or is it something that they should just allow to happen once before it gets carried away with fighters attempting to one-up each other?

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