Swayze Valentine. Swayze. Swayze. I can hear you saying the name over and over again, it sounds familiar but where have you heard it? And before you think “Patrick Swayze”, hold it right there!
What if I were to say to you, “UFC”? Would that ring any bells? How about if I also mentioned, “cutwoman”, you know, the female version of Jacob “Stitch” Duran or Adrian “Tenacity” Rosenbusch? Has the penny dropped now?
Born and raised in Anchorage, Alaska, Swayze Valentine was a determined individual, whose parents instilled a good work ethic in her from an early age. This work ethic was instrumental in forging a career as the first (and currently only) female cutwoman in the UFC.
Having made her career choice back in 2006, it has not been an easy road, with many hurdles in the process to making it this far in her 10 year career. Acceptance and adversity is still one of the biggest challenges to overcome in this male dominated industry.
The rewards far outweigh any of the negativity that Swayze has had – and still endures – in her chosen career. Just listening to her passion and drive alone makes you want her to be successful in this forever-evolving sport.
“I feel that I make a difference. I love taking care of people. Being a Cut woman, I get to wrap the hands of these incredible athletes in a sport that many don’t understand. I get to take care of them when they need me most. I get them to the next round. A fighter recently told me that having me there brings him comfort. That meant so much. I am so glad that my presence can calm a fighter in the middle of battle. I feel that being a mother, I bring a nurturing, calming comfort to these fighters, which I think is a huge asset that I hold dearly!
I can’t lie, it feels amazing that I am one of the few, elite professional Cutmen/Women in the world. But I still have all those same struggles that I have had from the beginning. I still deal with adversity, I always will, and I’m okay with that!”
Swayze worked many hours and travelled hundreds of miles a day, just to gain experience wrapping hands in a gym environment, all for free before ever having a ‘paid’ job in her chosen career path. Swayze then asked renowned UFC Cutman Adrian “Tenacity” Rosenbusch for some advice. He took her under his wing and became her mentor for two years, training her in the ‘cut side’ of the work. Swayze held a great pedigree in her CV even before being approached by the UFC, having worked with promotions such as Invicta, Bellator, WSOF, MMA Explosion and King of the Cage, along with amateur MMA and Muay Thai promotions including, 1 Kick Nicks, Tuff N Uff, Battle at the Bay and Rumble on the Ridge, to name just a few.
Having made her first appearance with the UFC two years ago at UFC 170, “The Queen of Cuts” (a nickname given to her by Jacob “Stitch” Duran) must feel under a lot of scrutiny.
“Absolutely! There is so much more stress. Everything is more difficult. I have to be 150% better than anyone else. The pressure is magnified tenfold. I like it that way though. It keeps me on my toes and it is always exciting. I turn the pressure and stress into drive, and into a positive. I let it push me past all my insecurities and personal fears. I thrive on being in a stressful environment, I’m better, faster, and I’m stronger.”
If being a single mom to two boys and a cutwoman in the UFC is not enough to keep Swayze busy she has also taken a role in hit US Drama Kingdom. The show which features stars such as Frank Grillo, Kiele Sanchez, Matt Lauria, Jonathan Tucker, Nick Jonas, Joanna Going and has also featured guest appearances from UFC fighter Cub Swanson, with guest presenters Hendi Androl, Kenny Florian just to name a few. Airing on Direct TV, the Audience Network production will be returning to your screens next summer in the US.
With so many highlights over her two-year span thus far with the UFC, I’m sure it would be hard for anyone to choose some personal favourites but here Swayze goes through some of her highlights to date.
“Oh man, What a ride! I have had so many amazing experiences since 2 years ago! If we are just talking about UFC, some of my personal highlights was definitely my first UFC event. Next would have to be, when fighters request me to wrap their hands or be in their corner, and when Joanna Jedrzejczyk requests for me to wrap her hands because I am good luck for her. Another exciting highlight would have to be when I wrapped Jose Aldo and Conor McGregor’s hands for an episode of “Embedded” That was awesome… Just to name a few.”
As for advice to anyone who wanted to pursue a career in the same field as herself, Swayze had this to say:
“Being a Cutman/Woman, is a beautiful and rewarding career. If someone is interested, you have to check out Fight Business Academy!! This new online Academy has made becoming a Cutman/Woman much more attainable than it has ever been before. Go to www.fightbusinessacademy.com. It is the first company to offer formal training for many of the exciting jobs in Mixed Martial Arts, Boxing and Muay Thai. This online academy has accomplished this through a hybrid of online classes and live Bootcamps with the top professionals in Combat Sports. Fight Business Academy also offers an exciting array of learning opportunities to fit every schedule and budget. From the “Academy Insider” weekly group chats, one-on-one Skype sessions to live Bootcamps in the fight capital of the world, Las Vegas Nevada! Fight Business Academy can teach you all the technical skills you need to be a valuable asset to any organization. It is so cool! I wish this online academy was available to me when I started!! I highly recommend anyone wanting to become a Cutman/Woman, to go online and check out this course.”
You can next see Swayze in Boston at UFC Fight Night: Dillashaw vs. Cruz on January 17th 2016.
Favourite places you have travelled to so far?
Australia, New Orleans and Nashville.
What song do you currently sing in the shower?
I have to pick just one?! Ha-ha I would have to say, all the Christmas songs, with a little bit of Eminem and 50 Cent raps, thrown in.
Maybe you and Megan Olivi could do a Rap Battle – Just a thought!
Ha-ha a rap battle! That would be so dope!
Favourite kind of movie to watch?
I love comedies!! So anything that is light-hearted and will make me laugh. Baby Mama, or some stand-up comedy by Kevin Hart!
Favourite song you would put on to listen too that would instantly change the mood you are in?
Right now I am stuck on “The Heart Wants What It Wants” by Selena Gomez
You can keep up-to-date with Swayze by following her social media accounts below.
Instagram: Swayze Valentine
Facebook: Swayze Valentine
Photo Credit 1: Joe Pic Photography
Photo Credit 2: Richard Valentine