Otherside of the Cage: With Bellator MMA’s cutman Stefan Lems

In the thrilling and controversial world of MMA, many key elements make the entire franchise tick. No element is more important than the role of the cutman. In the fight game, the damage is the name of it. And when the damage is done you want the confidence that you’re in the right hands to be able to continue. No one in my mind fits the bill other than Bellator MMA’s Stefan Lems.

A cutman is a person responsible for preventing and treating physical damage to a fighter during the breaks between rounds of a full-contact match such as boxing, kickboxing or a mixed martial arts bout. Cutmen typically handle swelling, nosebleeds and lacerations. In addition to degrading a fighter’s performance, the rules of combat sports stipulate that these injuries can be a cause for premature match stoppage, counting as a loss to the injured fighter. Therefore, the cutman is essential to the fighter and can be a decisive factor in the outcome of the match.

We were lucky enough to have a quick chat with Stefan to shed some light on what it’s like and what it takes to be/become a cutman.

Great to be able to get your insight Stefen, just a few short questions. 

What first enticed you to become a cutman in mixed martial arts? 

“Hi, I’m Stefan Lems, 44 years old. I Live in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. Cutman for Bellator MMA international, ACA MMA, UAE warriors, Glory Kickboxing. I started hand wrapping as a coach for my own gym Ruthless Fightcompany Rotterdam. When one of our fighters got a cut, I got interested in how to work cuts and swellings. And this is where the whole cutman story started.”

It’s not the kind of work you want if you’re squeamish. In this line of work, experience is vital. With a current career spanning over 4 organisations, Stefan is one of the best the business has to offer. Joining this line of work it seems just sprung out at him.

What goes through your mind when a fighter’s face-off?

“When fighters face off nothing goes through my mind, only when I know the fighter well in person.”

Have you ever feared for your safety while carrying out your duties for either franchise you currently work for?

“Never, I’m not scared of blood and we wear gloves”

What advice would you give to someone looking to enter the role? 

“To become a cutman, start with buying tape and gauze and go to a fight gym and wrap 2 or 3 fighters. Because our job always starts with hand wrapping. The rest, like working cuts, is not that difficult.”

Stefan’s entrance into the sport started where most would, in the cage. With three pro fights to his name.

Dimitri Menger

0-2-0

0-0-0

Loss · Punches · 0:58 · R1

Rings Holland

2004.04.04

Aydogan Naturalis

0-1-0

0-0-0

Loss

Netherlands Regional

2003.10.19

Marco Mulder

Loss

Netherlands Regional

2001.05.27

The corner was his true calling it seemed and what an amazing career it has been. There is no one “in my experience” who I’d want more in my corner. With such little time to take care of a series of injuries, and knowing what’s at stake for the fighter. The cutmen of MMA deserve the recognition of being a key ingredient to a successful bout.

Appreciate you taking the time to do this Stefan. Do you have a message for the readers?

“I wish everyone that reads this a good, lucky and healthy life. And follow my Facebook and Instagram @stefan_lems

A very different perspective from the cage side there from Stefen Lems. Whether it was morning, evening, noon or night. I hope you’ve enjoyed this article. 

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