One of the most important characters in the fight world, the “Cutmen!”
You cannot count the number of careers they have saved, the closest person to the fighter after his coach during the fight, his only job is to make you fight another round, then another, and another. Most of the times they don’t even know the fighter, but they are the only ones there, that care only for athlete safety.
His job starts before the fight night starts, tapping the hands of the fighters, he is the only one that can taste how nervous are the fighters, while he tapes their hands, they try to focus, music on their headphones, complaining about the tapping…
“I want them more compact…”
“I have no grip like this!!”
Coaches close to them, making sure the tapping is done well and here they are, the Cutmen, trying to relax them a little bit talking about the easy stuff. Trying to connect with them a bit so they can read them better when they’re up there.
So what is, after all the Cutmen’s role? Well, the cutman is the person responsible for preventing and treating physical damage to a fighter during the breaks between rounds of a match. Cutmen handle swelling, nosebleeds and lacerations. Besides degrading a fighter’s performance, the rules of combat sports stipulate that these injuries can be a cause for premature match stoppage, counting as a loss to the injured fighter. The cutman is therefore essential to the fighter and can be a decisive factor in the outcome of the match. That’s why the number of careers they’ve saved are countless.
The compensation for cutmen varies, generally staying within 10–15% of fighter’s prize money. For many fighters on a low budget, the cutman duties are performed by their cornerman. While most athletic commissions require cutmen to be licensed, there is usually no formal training or certification required. Most cutmen learn their trade through apprenticeship, self-education, helping and watching others. Unlike boxing, cutmen for mixed martial arts events are generally provided by the promotion, rather than the fighter’s corner. This is to prevent allegations of “greasing!”
Cutmen should not be confused with the fight physician, or doctor, an official who monitors the health of the fighters and whose task is closer to that of a neutral referee. The fight physician provides medical advice, monitors the safety of both fighters in accordance with regulations or law, and evaluates their ability to continue fighting. Before the fight, cutmen will usually put Vaseline on the most likely areas of impact, especially the fighter’s face, making the skin more elastic and slippery, and hence less likely to tear. It is not considered good practice to use large amounts of Vaseline during the fight. Cutmen might also do the hand wrapping, the pro fights with tape. They tape fighters’ hands, which helps protect the bones and tendons. Wraps are used during training but are illegal during the competition, though people still commonly use the term “wrap” in error to describe the taping method of using gauze and tape.
During the fight, cutmen try to control any swelling or bleeding during the breaks between rounds. Since cutmen are not doctors and have a very short period of time to treat the fighter, their treatments are limited to advanced first aid treatment.
A standard enswell used by cutmen to reduce swelling from facial injuries. Swelling is usually associated with facial hematomas (bruises) and is traditionally reduced by applying firm pressure with a chilled enswell or an ice bag on top of the area of the trauma. The cutman presses the enswell against a fighter’s skin to cool and reduce swelling from injuries, especially in areas around the eyes where swelling can impair vision. Since the time between rounds is very short, cutmen try to apply the enswell right away and hold it as long as they can, but a common mistake is using the enswell to push directly on the swollen area in an attempt to disperse it or move it into a safer place such as away from the eye. Such treatment will not move the hematoma and may disrupt the microscopic blood vessels under the skin, causing an increase in bleeding and enlargement of the swelled area. Then we have the cuts! They are the primary focus of the cutman because unless the bleeding is stopped right away, the doctor may stop the fight and declare that the injured fighter has lost the match.
Doctors will also stop a match for a cut that is perpendicular to the eye. Cuts are treated by applying a cold towel to clean and simultaneously cool the area of the cut, causing a decrease in blood flow. Then apply cotton swab soaked in epinephrine with pressure to decrease blood flow, even more, he could also cover the area with vaseline to prevent further damage. We also have nosebleeds, and to stop the bleeding, cutmen generally apply a cotton swab soaked in adrenaline hydrochloride to the damaged area, while simultaneously pressing the nostril against the cotton swab with the other hand. Once the bleeding has stopped, the area is chilled with an ice pack or an enswell. The fighter is usually instructed to breathe through the mouth during the treatment. A broken nose is more difficult, the bleeding is generally treated the same way; however, the fighter is usually instructed to avoid swallowing blood as it may induce nausea or vomit, and the cutman is more likely to consult the ringside doctor to ensure the fighter’s safety. They have their own equipment, like the enswell, cotton swabs, ice packs, Vaseline, gauze pads and medical gloves, along with medicines and first aid equipment, and they’ll be there on the ringside ready to do miracles on that minute in between rounds! They’ll minimize the damages made by the opponent, and they’ll do it fast! In one minute they go in, they’ll medicate the fighter while the coaches are screaming at him a thousand techniques, and they come back out!
One of the most famous Cutmen in the world is Jacob “Stich” Duran, a professional Cutman who works in boxing and MMA, he has worked with the Klitschko brothers, Andre Ward, Tyson Fury, Chris Algieri, Manny Pacquiao, Amir Khan on boxing bouts, and Mirko Filipovic, Lyoto Machida, Forrest Griffin and Cain Velasquez in MMA.
Duran has appeared as a cutman in three films of the Rocky film series. In 2012′ the “International Cutmen Association ” was created, the Honorary President couldn’t be other than the legendary Jacob “Stich” Duran itself.
The President is Federico Catizone, co-founder of the association, surgical technologist, and specialist in haemostasis for Cutmen, speaker on international meeting on adrenaline and hemostatic membranes. My point of reference in Italy, I waited had the pleasure to have my hands tapped in an MMA bout, and learn the secrets of his art on his 1st and 2nd level Cutmen Courses. Here is what we talked about:
Would you be so kind to make the Centurion Legion a small presentation of yourself?
My name is Federico Catizone. I’m a nurse and I have worked in a hospital for 23 years, more specifically, I work in an Operation Room. But now, for three months, I’m working in Intensive Care (Covid).
My second Job (but my first passion) is being a Professional Cutman. Eight years ago I created the first “Cutman education” in Italy, and shortly after I helped to create the first International Cutman Association with colleagues around the world. Now I’m the President of ICA and I have a professional cutman Team in Italy. Luckily for us, the best Italian fighters they chose our cutmen. My Cutmen Team worked in the most important national, gVenator, ICF, IFC, PetrosyanMania, Golden Cage, Venice FC), and international events ( Glory, Centurion FC, and Bellator).
Mr. Catizone, how did you start as a Cutman?
My first job was in Rome in 2011. A great boxing evening with 8500 spectators for a European Title.
How was learning from the legendary Jacob “Stich” Duran?
I was a very lucky man to learn from the greatest Master Cutman in the world.
I met him in Cologne(Germany) at the first-Hand wrapping Championship. Knowing him was a great honour for me. Now we are friends and he is the Honorary President of the International Cutman Association. He is a legend for all of us.
Would you tell us what you usually see on the fighters when you tap their hands?
When we get ready to work on their hand when we start the job, our concentration is high. It’s an incredible moment. The fighter’s breath becomes deep…the match begins. In my opinion, the hand Wraps for combat sport (Boxing, MMA, K1 and so on) is a science. It’s important to know the hand-wrapping techniques and international rules. It’s essential to participate in Cutman courses, but only with qualified cutman teachers.
In that minute in between rounds, you have a huge responsibility. Would you tell us something about that?
It’s a great responsibility. We must do our best job for our fighters and help them if they have a trauma (we don’t have a minute…but only 45 seconds).
One More Round is our motto. Knowing the right tools, intervention times and all rules of hygiene are the basis of our work.
What are the normal injuries?
The most common injuries are cuts on the eyebrow and Hematoma on the cheekbone.
What was the most difficult injury you had to manage?
We were in Helsinki, for a European Title. A Hematoma under the eyelid caused by a fracture of the orbital bones. Subcutaneous emphysema that has closed the eye. A nightmare for a cutman.
How did the Covid affect you as a Cutman?
We professionalist Cutmen, we cutmen of my Team and ICA always use personal safety equipment (disposable gloves and safety glasses). Now with this pandemic, we must also use the Face Shield and the masks. Yes, it’s a strange situation …we have to do Hand wrapping with the mask.
You’ve participated in Centurion FC, how was it?
I remember very well that Centurion. An incredible organization. A good job with many matches. The organizer created a perfect event…La Valletta looked like Las Vegas that night. With my colleague (Selena Di Giusto) we did 20 Handwraps each. I think it’s a world record for a cutman. An unforgettable evening for my Team.
Wanna share some thoughts on the future of MMA?
I think Vettori’s victory brought great enthusiasm to our context. This is an incredible time for our MMA. Our fighters are very professional as are their team. I hope to see the spectators around the cage again.