Most people have a pretty clear image of what a cutman looks like.
This is the UFC's newest cut person, Swayze Valentine.
This is what you probably thought of when you heard Swayze.
Not any more!
Bloody Elbow's Steph Daniels sat down with Swayze and talked about being the first female cutman in the UFC. Swayze joins a long list of pioneering females into the formerly male dominated fields of fighting (Gina Carano), journalism (Loretta Hunt), reffing (Kim Winslow), promotion (Shannon Knapp), publicity (Ken Wenk) and now working a corner as a cutgirl.
In the interview Swazye details how she learned her craft, doing nothing but taping hands from coast to coast, and that was just the beginning. But learning her job was the easy part...
I've had promotions that didn't want me to work events, but more often than not, whenever I had a problem, it was a fighter or coach that didn't want me to wrap their fighter's hands or grease their fighter before entering the cage.
I've been cussed at as I'm working on a fighter, I've been told to get the F out, I've been physically assaulted in the cage by a coach...I've kind of had it all. I've definitely had my struggles. You just keep going.
I'm not going to throw out a name, but I will say that it was a coach in Las Vegas who still works at a very well known gym. All the coaches know what a cutman's responsibilities are; it's to keep their fighters safe, and that's it.
So, I was waiting to go into the cage to take care of his fighter. First round he was fine, but in the second round, he started swelling. I told the camp I was going to go in, because you have to communicate with the camp so they know what's going on.
Nobody said anything to me, so I went in and over to the fighter to take care of him. The coach came up behind me and said, ‘We don't need no F'n cutman, get the F out of here' and he chucked me. I couldn't even believe it. Of course I didn't do anything back, but I stood there for a second, stunned because nobody has ever put their hands on me in anger before in my life, so that was definitely a first.
I took the professional approach and told the commission what had happened, but they had already seen it. They told him to stay away, and a good thing that came out of that incident, now at every rules meeting, at least with this organization, the ISKA lets everyone know, all the coaches and fighters, that they can't put their hands on anybody like that, or they could incur a felony charge.
I definitely wasn't expecting to get into this industry to be assaulted by my peers, but it was a lesson learned, and I'm glad I had it. I'm glad for any challenges that come my way that I can learn from or others can learn from. A lot fewer challenges are coming my way now, because people are finally starting to realize that I'm not a threat, that I'm just here to take care of the fighters.