Once every few years or so, a fighter comes along who just has the indescribable “it” factor that makes you know he or she is going to make it far in the sport of mixed martial arts.
During my career covering local MMA, I’ve only seen that a few times. It’s evident from the first time you see a fighter in action, whether it’s an amateur debut or fight six.
Lucas Mast has that it factor.
At just 23 years old, he’s wise beyond his years, and confident yet humble enough to take coaching.
He owns The Vintage Barber & Shop and a women’s hair salon, Hush Hair. He has continued to strive to find a balance between his business and his goals in fighting.
He trains under two very underrated coaches who both hold black belts – Brian Burkey at Renzoku MMA and Jose Burgos at Common Ground Grappling Club.
“Making my pro debut at home, I’m excited for it,” Mast told BluegrassMMA. “I’m comfortable here. This is where I work, this is where I live, I do everything here. So it definitely gives me a sense of comfortability here. And all my hometown fans and friends and family are going to be there, so all of the energy is going toward me. That’s a big factor.”
Perhaps even more than balancing a business and a fight career is the balance between confidence and cockiness. Of course it takes an incredible amount of confidence and belief in yourself to step across from another person who is looking to hurt you inside of a cage. But MMA is a dangerous and unforgiving sport, and as soon as you think you have it all figured out, your career is over because there are countless hungry young fighters who will pass you up.
Mast walks that line between confident and cocky in a perfect high wire act.
“I’m on my way to being one of the best in the world, and I believe that in my heart,” Mast said. “I think the only difference between me and the best in the world right now is time. Time in the gym and training and just getting the years, the months, the weeks, the days. I only started three years ago, so I’m still pretty new to this sport. I’m fighting somebody that has ten years of experience so I’m excited to show what I’m made of.”
McDowell comes in from Kentucky as a well-rounded dangerous veteran who has been through battles since making his amateur debut in 2013. He had 17 amateur bouts, including winning titles all over the Bluegrass State. He returned from a three-year layoff in the fall to make his pro debut, which he won via submission. He also isn’t afraid to say exactly what his game plan is heading into his opponent’s backyard.
“I’m coming to hijack this guy’s hype train this weekend,” McDowell posted on Facebook. “All aboard.”
But for Mast, he refuses to overlook McDowell or any opponent.
“I respect him, I think he’s a good fighter,” Mast said. “He’s definitely got some sharp tools. I’m excited for the matchup, I think it’ll be a good fight for both of us. I think it’ll be a tough fight. I’m just excited. I don’t really know what exactly he’s going to come out with, so I’m ready for everything.”
Mast talked about rounding out his game for this fight, sharpening many of the tools he already has. Before his final amateur fight, he wanted to show off his improved striking. He did just that, earning a 40-second TKO over Chris Fattig at Honor FC 10 in August.
That fight was more than an hour away in Cleveland, but for his pro debut there’s a lot of hype surrounding the small town hometown boy. He’s also fighting alongside multiple teammates on the card, including unbeaten amateur Eddie Flinner and newcomers John Miller, Briar Cadle, and Scott Troyer.
“There’s a lot of hype surrounding this fight with it being in my hometown in front of my family and friends,” Mast said. “There’s a lot of people doing stories on this. There was some of that during my amateur career, not as much as it is now, but at the same time it’s not anything new to me. I know that I’m new to this sport and I know that I’m young, but I know that I have a lot to offer. The things keeping me humble are my coaches and the people around me, and the way I grew up, there’s no room for arrogance.”
But again, at the same time that he stays humble, Mast has a swagger that’s almost unmatched.
“I’ve put in the work, I’ve put in the time,” Mast said. “I’m a problem for everyone I share that cage with and Saturday won’t be any different. I’ll go in there and do what I do then we go celebrate for the evening and get back to work on Monday.”
Honor FC 12 takes place at Harvest Ridge in Millersburg, Ohio. Tickets are available via FighterTix.com, and the event streams live via iPPV on Fite.tv.
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