Cutman David Maldonado prepping MMA fighter Luke Sanders
Cutman David Maldonado prepping MMA fighter Luke Sanders

This has certainly been an interesting week, and my comments have been requested many times. Based on the Jacob Duran experience, that choice could cost one his job. Now that is most certainly true in every occupation, but usually comes with a certain level of inappropriateness or insult that joins the comments.

I have obviously paid close attention to the drama, and I can’t find any examples in the initial interview that constituted the term “inappropriate”. Therefore I am like the rest who find themselves shocked by the decision made by the UFC.

Yes, the primary sponsor in question and the promotion did not value the cutmen enough to inquire about how they can be accommodated with the new deal and clothing requirements. However, everything I hear is that the fighers weren’t considered either as not one positive comment from them has been seen. I know from my standpoint as a cutman, it is the expectation that I will not be the focus of preparation or consideration by a promotion. I’m grateful for the times when I have been remembered by staff, checked on by logistics people, and secured the important yet small details I need to be there and do my job. That often comes with pesky, repeated inquiries or follow ups to make sure things aren’t forgotten. I have learned to adjust to glitches and when working for great promotions like I currently do, simply be grateful when I’m considered part of the fold.

Now the sponsorship and compensation aspect of the events is another topic. First of all, it is important to say that the UFC compensates cutmen better than any other organization I know, and rightfully so given their budget. Travel is provided, plus all the daily perks while on site. To then also be getting sponsorship money, I can only be reminded of the great song by the hair band Cinderella….”Don’t know what you got till it’s gone.” Those “employees” now return to Earth where other cutmen live, having to creatively manage the task of having a great role in an industry and make some money while doing it. To think they would not have additional employment is a first world problem.

I think it would be amazing to have sole employment as a cutman, but as of now that’s not a possibility at any level. Unfortunate perhaps, but it actually speaks to a point I have made long before this week. If cutmen had all the skills and training I feel they should as a minimum standard, like other sports expect from athletic trainers (the best comparison of industries), then increased compensation would be appropriate. As it turns out even that profession is paid less by comparison because there are many in line that would love to do what they do, sound familiar? I have had to leave a great job doing what I do best to sacrifice so to have an available schedule for show dates that I would need to commit. If there were a set criteria used in the industry to rate, judge, and critique cutmen, then the best could truly be determined and perhaps compensation might raise to match that. As it stands now, people are hired merely because of a friendship or oblivious reference says “yeah he/she is one of the best around.”

I commend Duran for his honesty, for his stance, and for being silent when it was wise so others could speak. My hope to upgrade the system causes me to have to speak much more than I would like, but I suppose I too have had to hold the position of being seen as the martyr to expose faulty practices or standards that need elevation.

It will be interesting indeed to see how the UFC staff whom Duran has selected will respond to the current situation. I know like others, I will be watching with interest.

In his column “Between Rounds” MMA cutman David Maldonado shares with readers his experiences and thoughts from inside the world of MMA. Readers are encouraged to respond, interact and ask questions about the life and work of the MMA cutman. “Between Rounds” is part of‘s ongoing series of exclusive content written by individuals involved in the mixed martial arts industry.

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