Know Your MMA Cutman: Interview with Jacob “Stitch” Duran

You’ve seen him a hundred times at the worlds biggest fights, both boxing and MMA. You know the face, but not the name. Many more know the name, but still do not know the man. Sit down, buckle up, and enjoy the ride as I take you one-on-one with the world-famous cutman Jacob “Stitch” Duran.

JM: How did you get into the sport?

Stitch: In 1974 I was in the military stationed in Thailand. I studied Tae Kwon Do and then Muay Thai. Since then I’ve followed martial arts.

JM: Who is your biggest inspiration?

Stitch: Chuck Bodak.  He used to be Oscar de la Hoya’s cutman, the guy who could’ve passed as Colonel Sanders and would put the tape on his forehead of the fighters that he was representing. Chuck Bodak was definitely a legendary cutman.

JM: How did you get the nickname ‘Stitch’?

Stitch: I was at a kickboxing event working on Dave Rooney, he was a sparring partner of Dennis Alexio who I used to train. I remembered seeing what the other guys did, so I made a little butterfly out of tape and closed up the cut. Rooney said I saved him some stitches. It’s stuck with me ever since.

JM: What is the worse cut you’ve ever seen?

Stitch: Definitely, when Vitor Belfort kneed Marvin Eastman in the head. It looked like someone whacked with an ax. (Laughing) I remember Joe Rogan said it looked like a goats vagina, it was so huge!

JM: If you were Joe Silva (UFC Matchmaker) for a day, what fight would you make?

Stitch: I’d make Nate Diaz vs. Evan Dunham. Those are two tough dudes and would make one helluva match up.

JM: To what do you attribute the growth of MMA?

Stitch: I think the tipping point was when Zuffa bought the UFC. When Dana got it sanctioned and implemented more rules. It made it a new sport. Dana had tremendous foresight to do what he did. I couldn’t watch it before then, it was too tough for me.

JM: Bruce Buffer tells the story of when him and Frank Trigg got into a fight in an elevator one time. Have you had any crazy encounters with a fighter?

Stitch: This one time we were at the Hard Rock. After the fight is over I go to clean up the fighters so their parents don’t have to see em’ covered in blood. The tv cameras were on Jason “Mayhem” Miller while I was trying to wipe him down. Next thing I know he yelled ” Get the F— outta my light!” I get it, it’s your moment and emotions are running high.

* Note, Miller told me that Stitch said ‘”let me clean you up and make you look pretty for the cameras” after I just got my a– whipped on tv- I didn’t care if I was pretty.”

JM: Will the world end in 2012?

Stitch: No, not at all. No zombies, no nothing like that. It’s going to last forever.

JM: What’s your advice for the guy who wants to be a cutman someday?

Stitch: Go buy ‘Giving the Fighter One More Round‘, that’s my instructional dvd if you want to learn. But more than that, spend time with the fighters and coaches. Live the life and know that will not replace your 9-5 job.

JM: Have you ever played Beer Pong?

Stitch: No, but I should tell you I have a group of followers. Every time they see me on tv, they take a shot. Later in the night, I get texts from the one who’s smashed. If it’s a PPV, I’m on tv probably 15 times. Someone is always wasted!

JM: What’s your favorite movie?

Stitch: Jurassic Park. I remember going to see it 8 times in a row when it first came out.

JM: Will we ever see you on ‘Dancing with the Stars‘?

Stitch: (Laughing) No! I know my limits. I know my strengths and that’s not one of them.

JM: What is your crowing achievement of your career?

Stitch: Making the documentary ‘A Boxer’s Nightmare”. Essentially, a boxer’s nightmare is not being educated for life outside the ring. I’ve seen promoters, networks, and managers all rip off fighters. This project has exposed the many problems in the sport of boxing and educates today’s fighter on how to handle their business.  I’ve worked with so many great people on that project. It’s on the back burner for now but I’m going to relaunch it in the future. I’ll use all the old footage of fighter interviews with that of moderns boxers. You’ll see that the problems that plagued boxing back then are just as present and menacing today.

JM: You have a new book coming out called ‘From the Fields to the Garden“. What made you decide to write it?

Stitch: I didn’t. Zac Robinson came to me and wanted to put my life story on paper. We met in a hotel lobby in Germany shortly after he first contacted me. We shook hands and that was it. He had a dream of becoming a writer and I gave him the opportunity. He’s done such a wonderful job.

JM: One last question before I let you scoot. When your career is over, what do you want to be remembered for?

Stitch: Education. I changed the game. I’ve trained people and made the instructional dvd for people to know how to wrap hands. Everything I’ve done has been to increase the fighters safety. The documentary will educate fighters and fans alike about the problems that need to be addressed in boxing. Remember me for the education.

There you have it folks. Jacob “Stitch” Duran. The best cutman in the biz who has been at nearly every event since UFC 33. If you haven’t already, go check out his book. You won’t be disappointed.

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