Are you wondering about how much a UFC cutman makes, and how they get the job in the first place?
In this article, we’ll look at how much a UFC cutman makes per fight and as a salary, how to become a UFC cutman, what a cutman does and uses, and more.
How Much Do UFC Cutman Make Per Fight & Event?
A UFC cutman typically makes 2% of a fighter’s winnings or a flat fee. Cutmen are typically independent contractors, so how they’re paid depends on their contracts with the fighters they work for.
If a cutman works for the biggest and most well-paid UFC stars, they’re likely contracted to earn a flat fee, rather than 2% of a multi-million dollar payday. While if it’s a lower-earning fighter, a 2% fee might be the better option.
The average earnings of UFC fighters in 2021 were roughly $150,000, which is earned through an average of 3 fights per year, making the average earnings $50,000 per fight.
2% of $50,000 is $1,000 per fight, but it may be possible a cutman is mostly working for a flat rate rather than a 2% fee, so they receive $500 per fight, and this halves their earnings.
Then again, they may be earning 2% of some of the most well-paid UFC athlete’s earnings, so for example they could be taking 2% of $1 million, which is $20,000.
Lastly, they may also be earning 2% of the lower-earning fighters, which is between $10,000 to $30,000 per fight, meaning their earnings are $200-$600 per fight, and between $1200-$3600 per UFC event.
However, using the averages of $500-$1000 per fight, if there’s a rotation of 4 cutmen working at a UFC event and there are between 10-14 fights, they’ll get an average of 6 fights each, as there are 2 cutmen used each fight. This brings their average earnings to $3000-$6,000 for one UFC event.
How Much Is a UFC Cutman’s Salary?
So, an average UFC event bags them between $3,000-$6,000, and if a cutman works 40 events in a year, a UFC cutman’s salary can be between $120,000-$240,000.
However, with UFC events being all over the globe, it’s very unlikely a cutman will work every UFC event in a year. If we use a more reasonable number of 30, a UFC cutman’s salary will be $90,000-$180,000.
Obviously, these have been averaged down, and it’s possible with some big paydays and regular work a UFC cutman can earn up to $300,000 annually, if not more; while it’s also possible for a UFC cutman to earn less than $72,000 if they work less and are paid mostly flat fees.
This is the earnings a cutman makes working for the UFC which is only 1 day a week, where they can increase their income by working other events mid-week, normally not for other MMA promotions but for other combat sports such as boxing or muay thai.
How Much Do UFC Cutman Make From Sponsors?
Before the UFC sponsorship apparel deal with Reebok in 2015, cutmen could earn money by wearing sponsored clothing and were paid on a monthly basis.
Since UFC 189, UFC cutmen don’t earn sponsorship money and wear plain black UFC clothing, which has no sponsors displayed. This reflects how a UFC cutman is an independent contractor and works directly with the fighters – otherwise, the UFC would be using their attire to advertise their many sponsors.
Famous cutman Jacob “Stitch” Duran was fired from the UFC in 2015 after he spoke out about the UFC Reebok deal, saying he depended on the sponsorship money as a full-time MMA cutman.
Saying he depended on the sponsorship money was likely fabricated, as we can see how UFC cutmen can earn a decent amount of money for just one night’s work a week, and he was one of the best and most well-known cutmen who worked for years in boxing and MMA.
However, they probably lost a big chunk of their earnings, the same way UFC fighters did with this deal.
What Does a UFC Cutman Do?
A UFC cutman has a few jobs, and these are:
This is the first job a UFC cutman has to perform. While a fighter’s corner can wrap their hands, a cutman is usually preferred as they have years of experience. It’s used to prevent a fighter’s hands from breaking during the fight. They’ll also cut the hand wraps off a fighter after the fight.
Mentally preparing a fighter
Due to the nature of the sport, a UFC cutman also sometimes has the job of mentally preparing a fighter for an upcoming fight.
When wrapping a fighter’s hands, a fighter can be in a fight or flight mode, where their adrenaline is pumping and they’re very anxious. This can make it hard for a cutman to wrap a fighter’s hands because they’re shaking so much.
Therefore, at times a UFC cutman has the extra job of mentally preparing and calming down a fighter, either with breathing exercises or talking things through with them.
Keep a fighter’s cuts under control and keep them looking their best
The most essential job of a cutman is to stop a fighter from bleeding and keep them looking their best in order for them to continue fighting and not lose as a result of a doctor stoppage.
They also want to keep them looking their best, as how damaged a fighter looks plays a big part in swaying the judges’ scorecards in a close fight.
At the same time, they’re aiming to help a fighter reduce swelling and bleeding so they’re not hampered in the ring; usually, it’s a fighter’s eyesight that’s affected.
Overall, a UFC cutman is aiming to give a fighter one more round, where they have about 50 seconds to do so in the rest period between rounds.
Why Do They Put Vaseline on UFC Fighters?
Vaseline is put on UFC fighters before they enter the octagon to make the skin softer which helps strikes slide to prevent cutting. It’s also used to easily apply coagulant and fill deep cuts by acting as a seal.
This isn’t the only thing a UFC cutman uses, and this is all the equipment used to do their job:
Coagulant – Such as epinephrine or adrenaline 1:1000 and avitene. These are substances used to curb blood flow, which is done by turning the blood from a liquid into a semi-solid state.
Cotton swabs – These are used to apply coagulant and vaseline to a fighter’s cuts, and to apply pressure.
Gauze – Some cutmen use hemostatic gauze on a fighter’s cut which has a combination of coagulants; however, these are more expensive and not much used in the UFC as they only have 50 seconds of use. They’ll also carry sterile gauze to clean a cut.
Bottled water – Used to clear blood from a fighter directly, or to dampen cloths before wiping a fighter. The other reason is for fighters to drink in between rounds, or at times it’ll be used on the back or top of their head as a way to cool a fighter down and help control their breathing.
Vaseline – Used to make the skin softer and help strikes slide off a fighter to prevent cutting. It’s also used to seal deep cuts and is sometimes mixed with a coagulant and applied with cotton swabs. Usually, it’s applied with gloves and hands as it’s easier to apply this way.
Towels – Cold towels are used to clean a fighter’s cuts and also clean water and blood spillage. Smaller-sized cloths are also kept as they’re easier to use on a fighter’s face and having more towels prevent dirty towels from being used.
Enswell – A flat or rounded piece of metal used to apply cold compression on cuts or swelling. More than one will be carried as fighters’ heads and faces come in different shapes and sizes. They can also be used to apply vaseline and coagulants, and are kept in ice buckets to keep them cold throughout an event.
Ice Bucket – Used to keep the enswell and bottled water cold. Sometimes a cutman will use an icepack, icebag, or bucket, depending on their preference.
Nitrile gloves – Used to reduce the risk of contamination between cutman and fighter, and many pairs are carried.
Scissors – Used to cut gauze and a fighter’s hand wraps.
Hand wraps – Used to wrap a fighter’s hands which consists of tape and gauze. There are different methods used to wrap a fighter’s hands, depending on their preference. Most strikers want their thumbs solidly wrapped, while grapplers often request less or no wrapping around their thumbs.
Experienced cutmen are aware of the UFC rules, which state hand wraps are limited to a maximum roll of 2” inches wide by 15 yards in length of cloth gauze, which isn’t allowed to stick out of the fighter’s gloves above the wrist.
There’s also a maximum of 1.25” inches wide and 10” inches in length of white athletic tape to go over the cloth gauze. Elastic or flex tape is allowed to then go over the athletic tape but it must only be a single layer.
Hand wraps alongside a fighter’s cup and mouthpiece are checked by a commissioner before a fighter is permitted to enter the octagon.
How Do You Become a UFC Cutman?
To become a UFC cutman in 2022 and beyond, you have to have IMMAF licensing. Since IMMAF introduced cutman licensing in 2019, all cutmen are required to revalidate their licenses every 2 years.
Before IMMAF licensing was introduced, someone aspiring to be a cutman would have to learn the trade themselves, by shadowing another cutman and knowing people in the MMA world who would get them work at their local gym or events.
Every current UFC cutman entered without a license as they need to be very experienced and the licenses were only introduced in 2019.
The best way to obtain an IMMAF cutman license is to search online and contact all places offering the service. There are three levels of licensing available, A, B, and C.
A class C license teaches the basics of the trade over a minimum 3-month period, teaching how to wrap hands, grease athletes, and shadow an experienced cutman with an A license on either amateur or professional MMA events.
Obtaining a class B license allows you to offer services for amateur MMA fights, which are 3 rounds at 3 minutes each, where a Fetac level 5 first aid course is also required. Before moving on to a class A license, class B requires a minimum of 20 MMA events and 280 bouts worked, over a 2-year period.
Obtaining a class A license means you can now work alone in both amateur and professional matches. An A license also requires 10 hours of career professional development, which includes participation in first aid courses, research, and wound care.
Composure is the most important skill in obtaining an A license and becoming a UFC cutman. This is because, in only 50 seconds, a cutman has to make sure a fighter is in their best possible condition going into the next round.
A cutman can be the difference between a fighter losing via a doctor stoppage, and going on to win the fight. Also, how damaged a fighter looks plays a big part in swaying the judges’ scorecards in a close fight, so preventing bleeding and reducing swelling is essential to a fighter.
Are There Any UFC Cutwomen?
Yes, there is only one UFC cutwomen, and her name is Swayze Valentine. She also works muay thai and boxing events as she’s not a UFC regular and only works there sparingly.
Swayze has been a cutwomen for 10 years before making it to the UFC, and she entered the trade by first learning from Youtube how to wrap hands, then offering hand wrapping services at local MMA gyms, and eventually shadowing a professional and experienced cutman to learn the trade fully.
She had to be tough-skinned to become the first UFC cutwoman, as on her journey she’s been cussed at, physically assaulted, had fighters cut off her hand wraps right behind her, and told she’s not allowed to touch certain fighters.
The Bottom Line
On average, a UFC cutman makes between $500-$1000 per fight and between $90,000-$180,000 as a salary; but as explained above there are many factors that may wildly affect these numbers – and they were likely earning as good or better in 2015 when they could also earn sponsorship money.
It’s also possible a UFC cutman is now earning more money than ever as fighters’ wages are slowly creeping up, and how they’re now required to be licensed to practice and have this license renewed every 2 years, which costs time and money.
Overall, they’re doing an essential job contributing to a fighter’s success, which is why the UFC uses the same small rotation of cutmen and cutwomen.