http://themmafiend.com/2009/02/23/jacob-stitch-duran-exclusive-interview/ Jacob “Stitch” Duran Exclusive Interview Posted by Justin Bullock on Feb 23, 2009 I had a chance to get in touch with legendary UFC cut man Jacob “Stitch” Duran this past weekend and get his thoughts on the upcoming season of The Ultimate Fighter, steroids in MMA, Strikeforce’s buyout of the ProElite assets, proud moments from his career as a UFC cut man, and much more. Justin Bullock: I heard Forrest Griffin gave you a post-fight bonus for your work during his fight against Rampage Jackson. Is that true, and it that common for fighters to do? Stitch Duran: Yeah, that was nice man. I had worked with Forrest first of all with Shogun, and he ended up getting the big ole gash on his forehead and I kept him in the game. I gave him that one more round, you know, like my sponsor, and he ended up winning the fight with Shogun. Then with Rampage/Forrest, Forrest ended up winning that fight. He’d gotten a pretty nasty cut and I was able to keep him in that game. And yeah, he sent me a $1000 bonus, man, which was kind of nice. And with Shogun he sent me a nice thank you card and a gift certificate to a nice restaurant. So he was very appreciative of your work. Yeah, that was one of my masterpieces right there. Just the rarity of the cut, you know, and I had to pull out the other medication just to apply it. So not only did I use adrenaline-chloride, which is the main medication, to stop the blood, I had to use Avitene, which is a coagulant, just to try and mend it up as best I could so it wouldn’t get any bigger. How are does the team of cutmen the UFC has compare to other organizations? There are none better than the ones we have. Obviously, Leon Tabbs is the Godfather of UFC. He has been around since UFC 2, and he’s been around ever since. Then there’s myself. Then obviously Don House is sort of the third man on the chain, he is the one that looks like Sugar Ray Leonard. At first it was only the three of us, and we were referred to as the “Three Amigos.” But then the workload got so heavy that they brought in Rudy Hernandez from Los Angeles, and he completed the four man team. We work like clockwork. There no other cut men combination in any sport, boxing or MMA, that works as good as we do. I imagine you have seen some pretty bad cuts. What are some of the worst you have worked on? Yeah, I’ve seen some pretty gnarly cuts since I’ve been in the game, and a lot of them have been some pretty serious cuts. But in terms of the worst cut, Forrest Griffin vs Shogun Evans falls right into that category. The bloodiest cut was with Jay Hieron when he fought Jonathan Goulet. I don’t think it is a fight you will ever see on TV, but he ended up with a small cut near an artery and the blood just burst out. Both fighters were covered with blood from head-to-toe. We kept it clean for one round, but, you know, when you pop an artery pops like that there is nothing you can do except control it and give him that opportunity to win. Cuts in Mixed Martial Arts are pretty common and they get pretty severe, but it all depends who you use to help you get to the end of the fight. So, for a fighter to win at the end of the day, that makes it a good night for us also. You said earlier that the Forrest/Shogun fights was one of your proudest moments. Care to share another? Another proud moment is from when Karo Parisyan fought Drew Fickett. That turned out to be a war. Karo had a big ole gash on his right cheek and they were thinking about stopping the fight, so they decided to bring me in. As a cut man in the UFC, you really try to give that fighter the attention that he needs. And coming over to the corner I could see the concern on Karo’s face to the point where he was kind of freaking out. He was talking to his corner thinking they were going to stop the fight, and he just didn’t know what to do. I kind of took it upon myself to help. I told Karo “Don’t worry about the cut, I’ll take care of the cut.” and kind of gave him a little bit of instructions. I said ‘Hey, you did pretty well in the stand up. If you fight this last round standing up you will win the fight.’ And he did, he ended up winning the fight. Later I am walking through the MGM and Karo comes walking up and says ‘Thanks for working on my cut, I really appreciate it,’ and introduced me to his father, who invited me over to their house for dinner. And, you know, coming from an old Armenian family where the traditions like that are valuable, to me, that was the best compliment I’ve ever had from anybody, just because it came from the heart. Have you ever disagreed with a doctors stoppage? Well, you know, there was one. For the most part, I have to agree that what the doctor’s say is always the final say. The doctor has the say when it comes to stopping a fight, but there is one fight with Kalib Starnes. If you remember, there was a gash on his forehead. I was brought in to work on it, and really, it’s not even bleeding. The referee looks at it and decides to stop the fight and take him over to the doctor. And, you know, the doctor, it’s like his first time doing an MMA fight, he takes one look at the cut and tells the ref to stop the fight. When I ask him why he stopped it he said ‘I can see bone,’ and I said ‘Sure, but it’s not bleeding and it’s not going to get no worse than it is now.’ But doctors, in terms of what they look at, they want to make sure there is no injury as a results of the cut, like nerve damage, and he looked at it and decided it was best to stop the fight. I just kind of raised my voice at him and kind of educated him a little bit. I don’t think that will happen again (laughs). What do you think about the new rule that only allows cut men to apply Vaseline in between rounds rather than the fighter’s corner (so they pretty much have to use you), and do you think that it will affect the game in any way? They have an option of using us or having their own cut men, and I think that is still going to be the same. If they have their own cut men, then we would supply them with the Vaseline. And I don’t think this is going to change the game any, to be honest with you, outside of, you know, not giving a fighter an advantage over the other one by having some slick stuff on his body. What do you think about ProElite being bought out by Scott Coker’s Strikeforce? You know, I think it’s great. I’ve known Scott Coker for over twenty years. When I used to have my own kickboxing school he was a primary promoter where my fighter would fight at, so I’ve known Scott for many years. He’s one of the good guys in the industry, and you know, even talking to the UFC’s people, they were all glad to see Scott take a hold of ProElite. I think it is going to be a good combination of EliteXC/Strikeforce and UFC. And, you know, no telling where it’s going to go, but I applaud Scott Coker. I think he’s done a good job. Like you said, even the UFC brass has been saying good things about Coker. What makes him different from the other guys that Dana has openly dismissed like Gary Shaw or Jerry Millen? Scott has always been professional, but he’s also always been under the radar. He doesn’t get into the political venues and arguments and never speaks badly about anyone. He just promotes a good show, so I think overall the ingredients for a successful promotion are there. I know it’s going to be good. Changing subjects, how many events do you do a year? Because of my sponsors I get paid per event, and last year- and these are tv events- I did 44 major TV events, and that’s not including the 24 reality shows that I shoot. In fact, I’m going to be doing two fights tomorrow. Obviously those don’t count, but Pay-Per-View Boxing, Showtime, HBO, Pay-Per-View UFC, Spike TV, those type of venues, I did 44 of them last year. So you are going to be one of the cut man for the upcoming season of The Ultimate Fighter? Yeah, me and Don House are the cut men this year. I’m working with Michael Bisping and the British. Without giving anything away, has the season been good so far? Oh yeah, absolutely. The fights have kind of woke me up a little bit, and I think it’s going to be a good season. I mean, I’m just there for the fight, so I can definitely say that the fights are definitely entertaining, no doubt about it. Whatever goes on inside the house with the Americans and the Brits, you know the Brits are very stubborn and very hard headed, just like the Americans, so I wouldn’t be surprised if in another week they’ll be busting heads (laughs). I think it is going to be a good season. Are there any up-and-coming fighters out there that have caught your eye more than the others? You know, he’s already a world champion, but I think I gotta give a thumbs up to Miguel Torres because every time I see him fight he is just spectacular. He does an excellent job. Another up-and-comer would be that Jon Jones, the guy who fought Stephan Bonnar. For me, I don’t remember the first time he fought, but I remember this one. As a fan, shit, I was clapping (laughs). So I think as a fan favorite, I think he’s going to do pretty good. I look forward to seeing him fight again. Yeah, Miguel is a freak. It’s crazy to think that he used to fight guys that were 20-30 pounds heavier than him. He’s just so quiet and very humble. Now I have the privilege of wrapping his hands, and even doing that he is a man of few words. But get him in the ring and he goes off. With the recent A-Rod news bringing steroid use in professional athletes back to the forefront, what do you think needs to be done in order to make sure that steroids are kept out of MMA. Man, you know what, that is a question that is way out of my realm. I don’t put to much emphasis in that, because that’s not my job. My job is just to work on cuts, and steroids, I don’t really know enough about them, but I have seen some pretty big mother fuckers let me tell you what (laughs). So I don’t know, that goes to the commission. I just let them handle that. So it’s pretty much like what Dana says: testing is regulated by the government, so it’s their job to increase testing if they see fit. Yeah, and I mean, it is what it is. In baseball people say “Yeah, so-and-so did steroids,” but at the end of the day, with the mechanics of the game, you’ve got to hit a 90 mile an hour fast ball. And I don’t know if steroids improve your eyesight or anything like that. I know they hit a little bit farther, but you’ve got to have athleticism to hit the ball. In the game of Mixed Martial Arts or even Boxing, where endurance and performance and strength makes a difference on a one-to-one basis then, you know, it’s a little tougher. But I’m sure they have their agenda on how to control it and try to work it. It seems like a lot of times the guys who get busted for steroids end up losing their fights anyway. You know, that’s a good point, Justin, because in this game of Mixed Martial Arts that’s something I have been finding out is that it’s not the strength factor so much, but it’s more of who has the proper techniques and who makes the first mistake. It’s a human chess game is what it is, and steroids will help you in the strength factor, but in terms of proper technique and all that, it won’t help you at all. Now, I understand you are in the process of unveiling a new line high-quality fight gear. Can you tells us a little bit about it? My fight gear is called STITCH Duran Gear. The are already available at FighterWarehouse.com and I am currently looking for distributors. The rest of the training and fight gear will be available in April. Wow, that is awesome. Before we go, do you have any other sponsors you would like to thank? One More Round Clothing, check out my pads at FighterWarehouse, and I am currently making my web site, StitchDuranGear.com, so check be sure to check it out.