When you think of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, and especially when you watch it, you know you're going to see the toughest of the tough.
It was recently my great honour to interview the ultimate cutman, Mr Jacob "Stitch" Duran.
I hope you guys enjoy reading this interview, because I had a ball conducting it.
Big thanks to Stitch also. He's quite simply, a top bloke.
1. UFC competitors seem to be making major headway into TV & film. Why do you think this is?
I think it is because MMA has become such a big sport and the fighters in themselves have become quite the personalities. They are badest fighters in the world and yet the nicest guys in the world. I think the age group 18-35 are major movie fans and to have MMA fighters in movies and TV roles is attractive to the viewer.
2. What if your opinion on the difference between UFC and WWE, and why do you think UFC is surpacing WWE in popularity?
I think the UFC is drawing major ratings compared to WWE because of many things. First, the ZUFFA has done a tremondous job in marketing the UFC and the fighters. Also, I think the fans love the real action that the UFC fighters brings to the octagon. Not like WWE, you never really know who is going to win a UFC fight. All it takes is once punch, kick or tapout to change the outcome of the fight. Do not forget that these warriors are also the nicest guys and will always have time to spend with the fans. You can have the biggest names like Randy, BJ, Chuck, George, etc and they will spend time and talk to the fans, sign autographs and take pictures at any moment.
3. What is the appeal of the UFC?
I think the appeal of the UFC is pretty simple. The UFC and the fighters have made this game so successful because every show, every fight and every moment to include the weigh-ins are a show in itself. Not like boxing where the fans show up for the main event, in any UFC event the fans show up for the first fight. Like every fan, I still get exited every time I work a UFC event.
4. What has been your greatest experience with the UFC?
I think my greatest experience in the UFC has to be every moment when I enter the dressing room to wrap a fighters hands. At this moment I know I am going to make a difference in the fighters confidence knowing he is getting ready to do battle. To receive a hug from the fighter knowing that his confidence level has grown means alot to me. Moments like when Lyoto Machida won the world title from Rashad Evans. I go into the dressing room after the fight to congratulate him and in front of his proud father he says, "In the ring, you are my father". Moments like these are what make my job so rewarding.
5. What was it like on the set of Rocky 6?
Let me tell you that this is one my proudest moments of my career to play myself in the Rocky movie. I remember the moment I received a call to be in the movie. I was making arraignments to work with Audley Harrision in London. I told them that I could not be in the movie because I was working a world title boxing fight in Paris, France and then the next week I was working with Audley Harrision in London. When I called my wife at work and told her I was offered a part in the Rocky movie she got all exited. When I told her I could not do it because of my commitment to these two fights she told me I was crazy and that I had to do the movie because Rocky is such an American Icon and it was a great opportunity for me. After thinking about it for about 30 minutes I realized my wife was right so I explained to Audley my opportunity and he understood. Turned out that the fight in France got cancelled anyway. Somebody is looking out for me!
Working with Stallone, Pauli, Antonio Tarver and just being part of the movie is still a mind blower for me. Stallone said he wanted me in the movie because I seemed like a natural and for me do what I normally do during a fight. He gave me very little instructions and at the end of the filming was very grateful.
6. What would be a dream movie role for you?
I have been involved in 3 movies, Rocky Balboa, Oceans's 11,(where I was Wladamir Klitschko's cutman) and Play It To The Bone with Woody Harrelson and Antonio Banderas. To be part of these movies and play myself was such a great experience and like all the work I have done in boxing and MMA I have never asked for one job. The opportunities have somehow come my way. I am not a actor nor have I ever said I am, but if I had a chance to pick a role for myself I think I would like to be a cop in a high action movie.
7. What’s coming up next for you?
Working as a cutman has always been my dream. Moving to Las Vegas 15 years ago to follow my dreams was a gamble in itself. Working with the best fighters in boxing and MMA I have had the chance to travel the world and meet so many great people. Having sponsors like TapOut and Xyience I have been able to participate in autograph signings and TapOut has even made me my own Stitch Signature Shirt. I am working with Tapout and will soon be coming out with "Stitch By Tapout" corner supplies. Working with TapOut we will be able to supply cornermen and fighters with the best equipment required to work and train. The tape and KO Swell should be coming out soon with the other equipment coming later. I will also be coming out with a book of my life called, "From The Fields, To The Garden, The Stitch Duran Story. Zac Robinson is the author and the book should be ready by the end of Sept. I am looking forward to it and hopefully we will be doing a book signing close to your home.
8. Is there an event or charity you would like to bring to our attention?
Maarten, you asked some very good questions and I want to thank you for thinking about me regarding this interview. In closing I want to say that I have been blessed to be in the postion that I am in. I always had a dream to be the best cutman in the world and thankfully I have been given this opportunity. Of all the great experiences that I have been through people ask me what I would like to be remembered for. I think I would like to be remembered as a guy who helped change the sports of boxing and MMA by bringing education to the sports. If I can pass my knowledge to other trainers, cutmen, fighters and even the fans I will feel that the sport will become better and safer.
Big thanks, once again, to Stitch for his time and enthusiasm with this interview. It's very much appreciated, and I wish him all the best.
What did you think of this interview? Please comment, or email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
Until next time!