“You tell me, when was the last time you saw fight stopped cause of cuts?” Jacob “Stitch” Duran said. While the Octagon canvas is frequently stained with blood, fights are rarely stopped due to cuts, and that’s largely due to the work done by Duran and fellow cut man Leon Tabbs.
Duran has had a cageside seat at every UFC event since number 33 but few fights stick out in his memory. That’s because “Stitch” watches faces not fights. Griffin vs. Bonnar I is one of Duran’s favorites, “but a war I remember as being knuckle-to-face was Wanderlei Silva when he fought Chuck Liddell,” he said. “I’m sitting at ringside and I could tell it hurt bad. It hurts me.”
But Duran’s favorite UFC memories relate to the relationships he has developed with fighters and their families.
When a panicked Karo Parisyan sat on his stool gushing blood in between rounds at Fight Night 7, his corner looked to Duran for advice. “Stitch” works cuts not corners, but he told the renowned judoka to forget the cut, he would take care of it, and stick to the stand-up game because it was working. And that was Parisyan’s key to a unanimous decision victory over Drew Fickett.
An elated Parisyan introduced Duran to his father, who said, “Thank you for taking care of my son and I want to invite you to my house for dinner.” The simple sentiment touched Duran, who understood the old-world gesture.
After wrapping Lyoto Machida’s hands prior to winning the light heavyweight title from Rashad Evans at UFC 98, Duran was honored again. In front of his father Yoshizo Machida, Lyoto told Duran, “’Stitch’, in the ring, you are my father.” Yoshizo’s approval amplified the statement’s impact.
“Those are the nice things that make my job so rewarding,” said Duran. “It’s not even the money factor [that makes the job enjoyable]. It’s just that I get that kinda respect from these kind of fighters.”