When I first saw the interview cutman “Stitch” Duran did with BloodyElbow.com it instantly peaked my interest. The story we were fed about the Reebok deal is that everyone would be happy and that the deal would mean all fighters on the UFC roster would get an opportunity to make decent money through sponsorship.
Apparently fighters would no longer need to deal with issues like chasing up sponsors for late payments, or even the task of securing sponsors. The Reebok deal would take all of the hassle out of fighter sponsorship and provide an easy, pain free payment straight into their bank account following a fight.
It may have sounded good to some people on paper, but it has now come to light that not everyone was taken into account i.e. the cutmen. Having skilled, experienced people in the cage who know how to take care of cuts and bleeding wounds is very important. The UFC is lucky enough to have some of the best guys in the industry working for them, but it seems they are not good enough to get a little bit of the Reebok bread.
Much like the fighters, cutmen also had sponsors and would wear the logos of various companies on their cutman apparel. It was a good way for them to earn a bit of extra money to help pay the bills, as they say. However, with the Reebok deal came some changes which meant that the days of wearing apparel covered in sponsor logos was no longer allowed.
The Reebok deal may have been aimed at helping the fighters, which is fair enough seeing as the organisation is all about fights and the athletes competing. However, there are lots of people that aren’t in the limelight who play an important role in ensuring that UFC events go smoothly. It seems unfair that the cutmen should take a pay cut with the introduction of the Reebok deal.
Some people may throw up the argument that without the UFC, the cutmen wouldn’t have a platform upon which to advertise their sponsors and make money, and therefore they should not complain when this privilege is taken away. Although, it could also be said that without the fighters and the people like the cutmen who look after the fighters between rounds there would not be a UFC. It’s definitely something to think about and I’m sure everyone will have their own opinion on the topic.
The UFC made their opinion clear by firing “Stitch” shortly after the interview. It seems they are a corporate machine now. Gone are the days when you would get a warning from your boss or a slap on the wrist for saying something controversial or out of turn. Now you just get a phone call from someone in the company letting you know that the higher-ups said you have got to go. It’s all very impersonal and cut throat, no discussion or chance to give an explanation, a courtesy you would expect any long serving member of staff to get.
With the recent departure of Burt Watson and now Jacob Duran, both men who had earned the respect of their peers within the MMA industry for the work they do, it leaves us wondering if the UFC has any loyalty towards the staff on their payroll. Hopefully the backlash they have received from the fans about this whole situation will have opened their eyes to some of the concerns that people have, but somehow I doubt it has.