For a man who was hardly ever seen, Jacob “Stitch” Duran’s job as a cutman in the UFC was invaluable. Imagine competing in the Octagon for the very first time and having your face ripped open by a hard elbow.
Duran was the man you depended on to patch you up. He was the guy who kept you from looking like a permanently disfigured Edward Scissorhands. Without a competent cutman, fighters risk serious injury and fights are more likely to be stopped by a doctor.
Duran is often credited with being the best in the business, not only at sealing cuts but also at wrapping hands. Ask any fighter how vital proper hand-wrapping is before a bout. Duran dedicated his career to building relationships and becoming a safety net for fighters in the UFC.
But that all came to an end Tuesday.
According to Duran, he was released from the UFC after speaking out against the promotion’s deal with Reebok.
The news was confirmed by MMAJunkie’s John Morgan through an anonymous source close to the situation.
Duran has been active on Twitter recently about the new Reebok deal preventing him from earning money from sponsors at events. Sponsors paid Duran to put their company logos on the back of his vest, which was vividly displayed for the world to see while he tended to fighters.
However, the multiyear deal with Reebok makes the apparel company the exclusive UFC sponsor. As of July 11, fighters and ring personnel are strictly prohibited from wearing any outside sponsors during fight week.
With the loss of his sponsors, Duran publicly voiced serious concerns about his financial future working as a cutman for the UFC.
During an interview with BloodyElbow’s John Nash, he contemplated returning to boxing: "I really love working the MMA circuit. I really love working with the fighters and the UFC, but I also have a family to support. So do I start focusing more on seminars? Do I start giving my business card more to boxers?"
Yahoo Sports’ Kevin Iole called the decision to fire Duran a “mistake” and a “gross overreaction.” MMAFighting’s Chuck Mindenhall called the move “cold.” Fighters showered Duran with support after hearing the news on Twitter (warning: NSFW language):
When contacted about the situation, per Morgan, the UFC “declined to comment on Duran’s employment status or any potential conflicts.”
Jordy McElroy is a featured columnist for Bleacher Report. He also is the MMA writer for FanRag Sports and co-founder of The MMA Bros.