This great sport of MMA has made a lot of guys superstars. Some of them act like it, and some of them do not. Jacob Duran, more commonly known as "Stitch", is a superstar to the fans and a Godsend to the fighters. He prolongs fights and careers with his effective tools as a cutman. I have been privlidged with a recent online interview where he sheds light on his history and future with the sport.
ME: Do you train in any martial art disciplines yourself? If you do, what belt levels have you reached? What are some championships or titles that you have won? Where do you train?
Stitch: At my age, 60 and with my schedule I do not train anymore. I did study the martial arts in 1974 while stationed in Thailand. In Tao Kwon Do I was a 4 degree brown belt. I was certified by Master Sken as a Krue when the UFC visited Manchester, England for the Sitnarong Association. Outside of karate tournaments, combat sports were a new thing and not available when I left the Air Force in 1976. I entered an all service tournament at U-Tapao, Thailand in 1975 and won the brown and black belt division. My last year in the Air Force at Ellsworth AFB I also won the open division.
ME: What made you decide to become a cutman?
STITCH: I learned to became a cutman when I had my own school of kickboxing, The American School of Kickboxing in Fairfield, Ca. I was also a trainer, manager and promoter. I loved training fighters and working cuts. 17 years ago I decided to try my skills in boxing as a cutman and moved to Las Vegas, then the boxing capital of the world.
ME: When and how did you get involved with the UFC/MMA?
STITCH: I started in MMA and the UFC when Dana asked me to come on board when Dana and the Fertittas bought the UFC. My first show was UFC 32.
ME: Unfortunately for the fighters and fans, you cannot corner every fighter in every fight. Who makes the decision on which fighters you corner?
STITCH: Fighters always ask me to wrap their hands and work their corners. Since the cutman are neutral we made it simple by me working the red corner and letting the UFC decide who is in the blue corner and who is in the red corner.
ME: How did your nickname "Stitch" come about and who gave it to you?
STITCH: I have to credit Dave Rooney, one of the fighters I worked in the early 80s. He got a cut on his eyebrow and I put a butterfly on it. He said, "you saved me stitches, I am calling you Stitch". I honestly don't think he realized how that would change my life.
ME: What are your thoughts on the current Unified Rules and judging in MMA? Do you think the 10 point must system is good enough or should it be changed?
STITCH: One of the things I don't get involved with is the politics and rules. My job is to take care of the fighters and I leave the rest to the judges, refs, promoters and fans.
ME: When I told people that you were gracious enough to do an interview, the same question kept coming up. Have you made many personal friendships with the fighters? If so, who are some that you consider yourself the closest to? Is hard for you to see some of your close friends lose?
STITCH: The best part of my job is the relationship I have with the fighters. As I mentioned before, we are neutral but I have worked with so many fighters and have been there in glory and defeat. Many times my favorites do fight each other and many times I will wrap them both. They understand that I can only work one corner and yes, it is tough to see a friend lose.
ME: Have you ever been at an event where you felt like you were watching a fight that was fixed or something just didn't feel right?
STITCH: In boxing I have to admit that I have seen suspicious fights. Not so at the MMA fights I hjave seen. I have seen some mismatches, but I think every fighter who has entered the cage has had winning on his or her mind.
ME: A lot of fighters seem to be contemplating retirement these days. We all will hate to see the day you retire, but do you have any plans on when you will retire? And if so, what will you do after retirement?
STITCH: I think the day I retire will be the day I leave this earth. I have many great years left but realize that I have to do other things to keep me busy. I am currently working on the "StitchPremium.com" web site that will be selling my new signature tape, a new blood stopping gauze called Qwick-Aid, my book, video and other cutman supplies. Their are other ways to take care of a fighter besides stopping cuts. I will have, "the best for the best".
ME: What is something crazy/funny/unusal that you have seen backstage or have been told by a fighter backstage while you were wrapping their hands?
STITCH: I have a ton of behind the scene stories with fighters and trainers. One funny one was with a fan who got knocked out in front of me after a UFC show in LA. He hit his head on the cement and received a cut on his eyebrow. I pulled my stuff out of my bag and started to work on hi cut. When he came to he saw mw and said, "Stitch, I can't believe you are working on me".we all laughed and he went to get stitches. It is hard to pick one or two. I will suggest getting my book, "From The Fields To Garden", the life of Stitch Duran for many of the stories. Available at Amazon.com or Kindle.
So that's it for my first installment of "10 Questions with the Stars". For more on Stitch, you can follow him on twitter @Stitchduran, visit www.stitchduran.com
, or purchase his book from Amazon by clicking here