When you hear cutman, one would instantly picture Jacob “Stitch” Duran. However there is another face on the scene and it’s a very pretty one. Her name is Michelle “Swayze” Valentine and she’s been around the sport since 2006.
Swayze Valentine takes the term cutman to a whole new level
The male-dominated field didn’t force her to shy away at all, in fact it made her want it even more. Back in 2006, Swayze went to her first live MMA show in Alaska and instantly wanted to become a part of it. She knew she didn’t want to be a fighter, but thought she would be a ring card girl. She arrived early on the day of her first shift and saw a coach wrapping a fighters hands and was hooked.
Whether it is a male or a female dominated field, that would not have changed my desire to be part of this industry. I went to my first live MMA show in 2006 and LOVED the atmosphere! I wanted so badly to be a part of this intense production. I knew I didn’t want to be a fighter but had no clue what other options there could be for a woman who didn’t want to fight. I talked to the promoter of the AFC, a few days later and he told me I could be a ring girl… I took the gig so I could get in the door and see what other opportunities there could be for me. When the day came for me to work my first show as a ring girl, I arrived at the event early and made my way to the back of the arena. On my way to my dressing room, I had to go through the fighters dressing room. There I stopped to watch a coach (or someone I didn’t know was a coach at the time) wrapping the fighters hands. I knew at that very moment, THAT was what I wanted to do. There was no greater honor than to wrap the hands of these fighters! I didn’t know anything about cuts then, but once I knew the “People” who wrap hands are the same “People” who take care of them in the cage… I was in love! 🙂 I went home that night with a dream!
I have been so blessed to work with WSOF! They are such an amazing promotion. They take the absolute best care possible of me. It is such an honor to be a huge part of WSOF. The shows they put together and how they take care of their fighters and personnel is incredible!
Imagine being able to wrap some of the biggest names in the sport. Swayze has wrapped the likes of Chael Sonnen, Brian Stann, Yushin Okami and more. Since her first venture at wrapping hands and icing faces she has had many memorable experiences, but one really sticks out.
I have to say the coolest hand wrapping experience that I have is wrapping the man, the legend, Jacob “Stitch” Duran!!! When I got the opportunity to wrap him, Wow, I was sweating and shaking, It was the most intense nerve-racking 7 minutes of my career, as well as the most monumental! This man knows quality and passion for the art of hand wrapping. I can’t dare make this wrap too tight too loose, or miss a step! It was scary!
That opportunity came about while doing a video shoot at one of her local boxing/MMA gyms in Vegas. While she was getting interviewed the gym door opened and in walked “Stitch”.
He had a bag in his hand, walked to the side of the ring and stood there. Once the interview questions were over, he came over, sat down in the chair, put his hand out and I was asked to wrap his hand so they could film it. I got all my stuff ready, took a deep breath and began the “Test”. While I was wrapping his hand, he gave me my name “The Queen of Cuts” I was so honored!! Once I finished his wrap, he said, ” In the words of Forrest Griffin, it feels so good, I can punch my mother! That’s a wrap!” I will never forget that moment!
Many would be grossed out by the job of a cut person, but not “Swayze”. She has seen everything inside the cage and continues to love her job, but there was one cut that sticks out the most.
The worst cut I had was when I was working WFC in Vegas. It was in the 2nd round and the fighter was getting smashed in face by some mean strikes. At the 2-minute mark, he was hit with a jab that split him open right below his right eyebrow. He started bleeding profusely. I had the doc’s coming up to me cage-side saying,” He has a bad bad cut! Get your epi ready!!” I drenched my swab with epi and was anxiously waiting for the round to be over so I could go in and keep him in the fight for 1 more round. The bell rang, I flew in the cage, sat him down and cleaned his face with my towel. The moment I wiped the blood from the cut, more blood was quick to gush out. I grabbed my epi soaked swab, placed it in the cut. The swab was completely lost in the wound! I had to pinch the wound closed over the swab. I held it in there for as long as the time keeper would allow, then packed and sealed the cut with vaseline. It held perfectly! I was so proud of myself that the fighter could still fight!
Boys will be boys and with a girl wrapping their hands or icing their face they will turn on their game. This happened to “Swayze” at a Titan FC event in Kansas earlier this year.
I have had fighters ask me out while wrapping their hands and even in the cage cleaning them up! One of my funniest/thoughtful moments in the cage, was when I was working for Titan FC in Kansas earlier this year. I was in the cage cleaning up the fighter after his big win, and as the camera and mic was in our faces he asks me,” Hey, what are you doing tonight?” That was cute moment.
The tables could turn as well, because she is a female there are plenty of men that don’t want her to either be in the cage with them or wrapping their hands. It’s an unfortunate situation being that we are in 2013, but it happens every so often.
I have had coaches refuse to let me wrap their fighters hands or grease them when they come out to fight. It had even gone as far as a coach assaulting me in the cage as I was attempting to tend to his fighter. With everything, you are going to have challenges. Being a woman, I knew this industry would not be easy on me and there will be times that I am unwelcome, but I don’t wait for those times to happen, and if they do, I shrug my shoulders, I don’t let it bother me and I move on. The struggles and challenge’s I come across make my success that much greater.
Swayze is mentored by Cutman Adrian “Tenacity” Rosenbusch and also works with King of the Cage, Tuff N Uff, Sin City MMA and the WFC. Don’t be surprised if you see more of Valentine as she is growing in the world of mixed martial arts and definitely making a name for herself as a “Cutwoman”.