What Is A Cutman In UFC And How To Become One?

What Is A Cutman In UFC And How To Become One

UFC cutmen play a big role during the fight. It seems like they never deserve enough credit for the work they do and their contribution to the entertainment value of the sport. So let’s focus on what is a UFC cutman actually.

The UFC cutman is a member of the corner responsible for patching a fighter up and threatening physical damage in between the rounds. They carry and use specialized tools to treat injuries such as deep cuts, severe bleeding, swelling, and many other l. And they have to be skilled as the rules give them only around a minute to fix all the damage.

Keep reading this article to learn more about UFC cutman, what tools they use, and if you are interested, how to apply and become one.

What Is a UFC Cutman?

UFC Cutman is a member of the fighters’ team. First, they are responsible for preparing a fighter before the match by wrapping their hands and applying vaseline on their faces. Next, they handle physical injuries in between the rounds of the match.

Being a cutman is a legitimate profession and you have to be trained and licensed to operate this job. They are independent contractors, working for a percentage of fighters’ purses or a flat fee.

Most cutmen are self-thought or trained through apprenticeship, and they don’t have to be doctors. In most cases, they are handling injuries such as cuts, lacerations, swelling, and bleeding. Their role is crucial, not just in MMA, but in the fighting business in general, and here is why.

According to rules, a fight can get stopped due to what a ringside physician might consider a dangerous injury.

Cuts and bleeding are not life-threatening injuries, but in the doctors’ eyes, these might lead to or cause more severe injuries. This is notably true for the cuts right below or above the eyes, or excessive swelling that might impact the eyesight. In this case, a fight would be stopped as a fighter clearly needs additional care in the backstage or medical center. And this is where the role of a good cutman comes into play.

A cutman is responsible for treating these injuries on sight. In some way, their job is to prevent the injury from impacting fighters’ performance and becoming worse. Or in other words, UFC cutman enable fighters to continue on fighting and prevent the ringside physician from stopping the match too early due to an injury.

As a result, it often happens that a cutman saves the day for the fighters. By properly handling bad injuries, they might give a fighter another chance to come back and win, and fans a spectacle to enjoy.

What Equipment Does UFC Cutman Use?

UFC cutmen are equipt with specialized tools used for handling injuries during the match. Following is a list of the most important equipment UFC cutmen use, and a detailed explanation of each one.

Enswell

Enswell is also known as “end swell” or “no swell”. It is a simple flat piece of a metal plate with a handle kept in the ice bucket during the fight to remain cold the entire time.

There are many types of enswell and the design may vary. But most have rounded edges to prevent any additional cuts during the treatment. Cutmen use this piece of cold metal to apply pressure and try to reduce cuts, bruises, or swelling. This will decrease the blood flow to the wounded area, and allow them to quickly apply medication to close the cut. This will further reduce bleeding and swelling and enable to the fighter to continue fighting.

Some cutmen would also carry multiple enswells, with flat or rounded surfaces that better fit certain areas of the face. They would often apply some vaseline on the flat surface to prevent the cold metal plate from sticking to a fighter’s skin.

Cotton swabs

In most cases, cutmen use ready-made cotton swabs soaked in medication to apply pressure to the wound, mostly cuts. These are also effective in handling nosebleeds as you can easily fit them up the nostril to stop the bleeding. To maintain a high level of hygiene, most cutmen keep their cotton swabs in their wristband.

Some cutmen like Jacob Duran would customize the regular swabs. They would wrap more cotton to make them bigger so that more medication can be soaked in.

Ice Packs

Cutmen always carry a pack of ice packs which they apply to a fighter’s head to reduce swelling, cuts, and sprains, and to keep enswell cold. A person from the fighters’ corner might also put an ice pack on the back of their neck or chest to cool them down and reduce pain. The cooling also helps the fighter to better control their breathing in between the rounds, and lower the heart rate before the next one starts.

Petroleum Jelly

Petroleum Jelly is also known as Vaseline. This specific jelly-like substance is one of the most important parts of the cutmen’s equipment. When applied, vaseline makes the skin more slippery, enables it to stretch more, and decreases friction. This causes the leather glove to slip off the fighter’s skin instead of tearing the skin and opening a cut.

First, cutmen would apply vaseline to a fighter’s face before they enter the octagon. However, they can’t spread the vaseline all over the body. No, they would apply it to sensitive areas such as above and below the eyes, eyebrows, and around the lips. Although vaseline does not stop the cuts, it significantly decreases the risk of early stoppages.

Also, vaseline works well when mixed with adrenalin chloride (1:1000) in stopping severe bleeding.

Gauze pads

In most cases, cutmen utilize small gauze pads to dry out the cuts. The gauze is made out of cotton and unlike other fabrics, it doesn’t stick to burn or laceration, which makes it very practical in combat sports.

Medical gloves

All UFC cutmen must wear medical gloves made out of latex, usually black in color to fit their outfit. While dealing with cuts, open wounds, and bleeding, you want to keep your hands as clean as possible. Wearing the medical gloves limits fighters’ exposure to bacteria and various types of infections. It also limits the cutmen’s exposure to fighters’ blood as well.

What Medication Do UFC Cutmen Use?

Following is a list of medications used by UFC cutmen to prevent or handle various types of injuries.

Epinephrine

Epinephrine is also known as adrenaline chloride. Cutmen use it to handle minor or severe bleeding as this medicine decreases blood flow. Once applied to the open wound, adrenaline chloride would stop the blood flow, which will create a blood clot. This does not “heal” the wound, but at least it stops the blood from pouring out.

Epinephrine medicine works well with vaseline which can then be applied on the edges of the wound to further reduce the bleeding.

Coagulant

The coagulant is also known as “Avitene”, and like adrenaline chloride, it is also used for cuts and bleeding. However, this one is used in different circumstances. Since Coagulant comes in powder form, it is most effective when applied on dry surfaces. In most cases, the cutmen would first dry out the damaged area with a towel or gauze. Then, they would apply a coagulant and put pressure on the wound with dry gauze.

How To Become a UFC Cutman?

Being a UFC Cutman is a legitimate profession. In order to become one, you have to obtain a license from the IMMAF, and the process of training is standardized. Training is divided into three main levels: C, B (National level), and A (International level)

C license — represents an introduction course where the participants learn the basics of being a cutman. After completing a course, students get the chance to shadow more experienced, IMMAF-licensed cutmen from A class. You will also get the chance to wrap the fighters’ hands and grease them before entering the cage/octagon. At this stage, you must be familiar with the “Unified Rules of MMA”, and spend a minimum of 3 months at the C level before moving to a B course.

B license — is an intermediate level where you also attend the “Fetac Level 5” first aid course. You will get the chance to serve amateur MMA events and get a logbook where you will record your services. The logbook is signed off by the IMMAF officials.

At this level, you must complete at least 20 events and 280 fights in total over a 2-year period before moving to the A-level licensing. You also must showcase a strong understanding of the cutmen’s role under Unified Rules, the core values of the profession, and a high level of professionalism.

A license — to attend the international level course, you must have a national level (B) and C level license. And you also need a minimum of 2 years of experience working in amateur events. This level also includes a logbook and you have to service a minimum of 30 MMA events, around 420 bouts, all of this within a 3-year time span.

In total, it takes around 5 years of consistent work for a person to become an internationally licensed cutman.

Do You Need To Be A Medic To be A UFC Cutman?

Cutmen are not doctors, and they don’t need a medical degree to operate this job at a high level. In fact, most cutmen start out as former fighters or boxing trainers, and they craft their skills in the gym while handling the injuries students suffer in sparring for example.

If you want to become a cutman, you have to get some experience in an MMA or boxing gym first. Start by hanging out with the fighters, helping them deal with some light injuries they sustain in sparring, and overall, focus on learning and adapting as much knowledge as you can from trainers. In the best-case scenario, the gym would have a person who supports the fighters in matches by taking a cutman role, and this would be your main teacher.

Once you firmly decide to pursue a cutman role, you might consider attending a course.

What Injuries UFC Cutmen Can Treat?

Cutmen are not doctors and they are limited only to first aid treatments. The following is a list of the most common injuries they are handling in between the rounds.

Swelling

Facial hematomas are one of the most common injuries across all striking-based combat sports, including MMA. These injuries are often caused by the heavy impact on the fighter’s head, or by absorbing repetitive shots at the same area. The most common swollen areas are right below or above the eyes.

To reduce the injury, a cutman would apply firm pressure to the damaged area using a cold enswell, especially around the eyes as swelling can easily impact the vision. However, they must be careful not to attempt to directly try to disperse the swelling into a safer place. This may disrupt the blood vessels under the skin and cause more damage.

Cuts and lacerations

UFC fighters wear 4-OZ open-fingered gloves so the cuts are quite common. Once a fighter suffers a cut, this injury becomes the priority in between the rounds because a cutman must stop or reduce the bleeding at all costs. If they don’t, the ringside physician will take a closer look and stop the match. The majority of cuts happen above or below the eyes, so these injuries are quite risky.

A cutman would first use the towel to clean the area before using cotton wraps soaked in adrenaline chloride to apply pressure on the wound and stop the bleeding. If they have enough time, they would also apply some additional vaseline around the wound to prevent further damage.

Nosebleeds

Nosebleeds are, perhaps, the most common injuries you are going to deal with as a cutman. Just a single, well-placed punch can easily open up the nose, and a cutman needs to act fast. First, they would wipe off the blood with the towel before using cotton swabs soaked in adrenalin chloride to right up the nostril.

At the same time, they would use their finger to apply the pressure from the outside of the nose. As a result, adrenalin chloride would help in creating a blood clot which would stop the bleeding. During the treatment, the fighter is advised to breathe through their mouth and avoid blowing their nose.

How Much Does Cutman Make In The UFC?

UFC Cutmen are independent contractors and they usually make 2% of the fighters’ earnings or receive a flat fee. Each event includes between 2 and 4 cutmen, and each one is assigned to do between 3 and 6 fights. So their average salary is based on the average salary of the UFC fighters they work for.

UFC fighters earn $150,000 annually on average if they compete 3 times in a year or $50,000 per fight. This means the UFC cutmen cashes out $1000 per fight or $6,000 per event. However, these are statistical numbers, and in reality, their salary significantly varies between the popularity of fighters and the magnitude of the events.

For example, working on pay-per-view events means they will take care of some of the biggest fighters in the business, who earn multi-millions. Getting 2% out of fighters like Conor McGregor or Israel Adesanya might boost cutmen incomes to up to $20,000 per fight, or even more. They can easily finish the PPV event with $30–40,000 in their pockets.

On the other side, low-level fighters who compete in the prelims earn between $10,000 and $20,000 which means the cutmen earn between $200–$500 working for them. While working on low-medium level shows such as “Fight Nights”, they earn between $3,000 and $6,000 for the entire event.

If they take part in around 40 events each year, the annual salary of a UFC cutman ranges between $120,000 and $240,000 per year. This is actually more than the average salary of UFC fighters ($150.000). But since it is almost impossible for them to cover each UFC event, the more realistic numbers are between $80,000 and $150,000.

On the other side, UFC cutmen are independent contractors and they may sign a contract with the fighter they work for, and agree to work for a flat fee.

Final thoughts

UFC cutmen is a responsible and very stressful job. They often have less than a minute to determine the injury, find a solution, and handle it in the most efficient way possible. This requires a high level of skill, experience, professionalism, and calm nerves.

Working on treating injuries in a chaotic environment with the crowd and coaches yelling, media members putting the camera in your face, and the referee asking questions related to injury requires a special type of mindset.

Just remember how many times the fight didn’t get stopped solely because of the cutmen’s ability to handle the injury. They are often the ones saving the entire show, and they certainly do not receive enough credit for that.

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