By now you've heard the big news that legendary MMA and boxing cutman "Stitch" Duran is no longer going to be at UFC events, this on the heels of his interview with Bloody Elbow's John Nash about the impact the UFC's deal with Reebok has on him and other cutmen. Duran noted that he lost all of his sponsors as a result of the deal, and that working for other promoters was not recommended, despite being independent contractors just like the fighters. Additionally, fighters would be compensated but cutmen would not, meaning Duran and others would only be paid their salary and nothing more.
In an interview with MMA Fighting's Marc Raimondi, Duran talked about his firing and specifically expressed his disappointment that Dana White didn't call him personally to tell him that he was going to be let go:
Duran said that he might have been most upset that UFC president Dana White didn't call him personally. White was the one who brought him on in 2001 after seeing him work a K-1 show at the Bellagio in Las Vegas. Duran said he and White worked together to establish the UFC's cutman program and gives White credit for "changing my whole career."
"That's another thing that pisses me off, that he didn't have the balls to call me directly," Duran said of White. "He had some other guys call me."
Duran later added that he makes more money doing boxing events and will start looking at working for other major MMA promotions. In boxing, fighters pay the cutmen directly (with varying percentages), as opposed to MMA where the promoters cut the checks. He confirmed that he'll be working with Andre Berto for his fight against Floyd Mayweather, and is a cutman for reigning heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko.
Duran should have no problem landing on his feet. Just this week, he signed a deal to work with Andre Berto for his fight with Floyd Mayweather Jr. in September, he said. "Stitch" also works for boxing heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko.
"It's not like I'm going to lack any type of work," Duran said. "It's just that I really enjoyed working with the fighters and the people in the UFC. To get a nut shot by Dana in him not calling me and having the balls to call me, it just showed me the kind of characters that I was dealing with."
According to Stitch, the first person he called after his firing was Burt Watson, the beloved site coordinator who left the promotion in February after a vaguely described incident with a UFC executive. While Watson wasn't fired, Duran noted the disrespect in no UFC official calling Watson to try to calm the situation:
"He was disrespected," Duran said. "Them disrespecting him really disrespected all of us, because we all worked under Burt."
One quote at the very end of the interview with Raimondi that I found really telling was this particular line about Dana White and how the UFC is presently run:
Duran believes things have changed from the early days of the UFC. He said that White and CEO Lorenzo Fertitta used to be all about taking care of their fighters and employees. Now, Duran said White, once someone he had a tight relationship with, doesn't even say hello to him when they pass each other at events.
"Dana has definitely changed," Duran said. "Now it's all about the economics. It used to be a fighter friendly environment."
Bloody Elbow will have a follow-up interview with Duran to be published soon.