“Stitch”: Piecing Together the Blurred Lines of Hollywood and Reality

Longtime staples to the UFC, iconic symbols who have etched their skill-sets into the UFC’s history: well-known referee, “Big” John McCarthy; veteran voice of the Octagon, Bruce Buffer; Babysitter to the Stars, Burt Watson. Jacob “Stitch” Duran is a living legend in his own right, and he has made the jump from the main-stage of mixed martial arts to the silver-screen of Hollywood. “Stitch” was able to thread together his work as a UFC cutman and some recent work with Sylvester Stallone on set; moreover, he was able to clot some misconceptions that may be portrayed by those in control of directing and producing films.

While being interviewed on Stand and Bang Radio, “Stitch” discussed an upcoming movie that he will be making an appearance in. Luckily for “Stitch”, he is more than qualified for his role as a cutman in the movie Creed, which debuts in mid-November, 2015. “Stitch” discussed his role in the film,

“I was in Philadelphia, which for what I was doing, was way better than Hollywood. There is a new movie called Creed, and it’s the son of Apollo Creed, Adonis; he [Adonis] becomes a fighter, and he goes all the way to Philadelphia to look for Rocky Balboa to train him. Well, guess who the cutman is for the team?”

Stallone and all the executives who are responsible for putting this movie together got the best in the game to highlight a cutman on the big screen. The effort put into each wrap and the skillful techniques used to control a fighter’s swelling and bleeding support any claim of “Stitch”’s necessity in combat sports, but those same abilities are required, maybe even more so, while putting on the performance of a lifetime in a movie.

In the discussion with Stitch about the movie Creed, Aaron Robbins, the host of Stand and Bang Radio, nostalgically flashed back to the cutman who was featured in the original Rocky. The round had finished, and Rocky made his way to his corner. Rocky’s eye was swelling, and he wasn’t about to quit. The swelling had to go down immediately; therefore, Rocky believed the best bet would be to cut open the mouse that had formed under his eye. “Cut me Mick” got an audible chuckle out of “Stitch”, which enticed the listeners to know what a seasoned vet thought of such a scene; a scene that grossly portrayed any level of sensibility that a proper cutman necessitates.

Aaron Robbins was simply sharing his memories of a movie that has become a cinematic classic, though the response given by “Stitch” enlightened the audience as to the misunderstandings that such scenes cause movie-goers. He reflected on interactions with others about the scene,

“I’ve had to answer so many questions. People have asked me, ‘Do you guys really cut their eyes when their eyes get swollen?’ I have to really educate them and tell them that it is more of a Hollywood thing.”

This inability to distinguish fact and fiction could also be connected to peoples’ comparisons between World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) and mixed martial arts (MMA); if it looks similar at first glance, then it’s all the same. In conclusion, it all comes down to more education. Stitch instructed the audience on the realities of a situation similar to Rocky’s,

“If his eye is swollen, then there is a whole puddle of blood underneath the tissue. If you cut that eye, number one, you’re not a doctor, and you’re performing surgery on a guy during battle, during the fight. If you do that, you have the possibility of cutting a nerve or an artery. It’ll create some sort of damage but also cause blood to go into the eye. The negatives outweigh the positives.”

It was vital to “Stitch” that his role of a cutman be played straight. “Stitch” has an acute awareness of the fact that myths, such as particular scenes in movies, become fabricated as truth. In a conversation with Stallone about the authenticity of boxing aspects, “Stitch” shared his half of the chat,

“I told him that it’s important, for me, to have you guys do it [the boxing aspect] the right way because you’re demonstrating things that are relevant in my sport, but overall, they did a tremendous job.”

Education, awareness, literature, exposure, and experience are all ways of moving from the connections we form automatically to a better understanding of what we thought we once knew, though hopefully through a more refined lens.

Check out this episode of Stand and Bang Radio and other episodes here.

By: Dave Madden @DMaddenMMA

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