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Morning Report: Stitch Duran responds to comments made by UFC that his Reebok criticism 'unequivocally had nothing to do with him getting let go'

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Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

The saga of the UFC's termination of beloved cutman Jacob "Stitch" Duran took another turn Wednesday as Lawrence Epstein, the UFC's chief operating officer, defended the move in a piece with the International Business Times.

On July 20, Duran was interviewed by Bloodyelbow.com's John Nash regarding the UFC's uniform deal with outfitter Reebok. Duran complained that the deal resulted in a dramatic loss of personal income due to the removal of his individual sponsorships. He was terminated by the UFC on July 21.

"Unequivocally, his comments had nothing to do with him getting let go," said Epstein. "I can't be more firm on that. There are a variety of reasons that he was let go but nothing to do with his comments on Reebok. He's trying to paint this thing as, he said some stuff about Reebok and as a result, he was let go. It's just not true. That's not the reason why he was let go. I can't be more clear on that."

In a UFC statement released to Bloodyelbow.com to further clarify Epstein's comments, no further explanation of why Duran was fired is given.

"Jacob ‘Stitch' Duran has not been banned from UFC and he is free to corner any athlete if they choose to pay for his services," the statement reads. "We want to provide other cutmen the opportunity to work UFC events. UFC certainly respects Duran's experience and accomplishments as a cutman, and wishes him the best. We will not comment about the other reasons that lead to the ending of his independent contractor agreement with UFC, other than to say it had nothing to do with his comments about Reebok."

Well, Duran isn't buying it.

The UFC, and perhaps more notably Reebok, received a firestorm of vitriol from fans following Duran's firing. According to the IBT, Epstein says the majority of feedback they've gotten from fighters has been positive, in terms of the quality of Reebok gear and "a sense of legitimacy it brings to UFC events."

"We, as an organization, are very proud of the amount of money that we're sharing with athletes," said Epstein. "We're giving them essentially all of the money that we're getting from Reebok, and we're proud to do that. Whenever you make changes -- and this is clearly a change, and it's a major cultural shift within the world of mixed martial arts -- there's always going to be some resistance. Like everything we've done at this company from day one, we're trying to build a sport."

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5 MUST-READ STORIES

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'I feel like he's in for a rude awakening.' Luke Rockhold says "Chris Weidman doesn't fight with the highest IQ."

'I was absolutely wrong.' UFC light heavyweight Anthony Johnson issues a statement apologizing for his 'ugly' Facebook rant against a woman from his gym. See the UFC's official statement here.

Go big. UFC 193 has been confirmed for Melbourne's 70,000 seat Etihad Stadium, which could be the biggest UFC event ever in terms of attendance.

Wow. After being arrested for attempted murder in June, UFC ring card girl Brittney Palmer's husband might not be charged with any kind of crime.

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MEDIA STEW

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Have yourself a panic attack watching Donald Cerrone do backflips. Bonus footage of Jon Jones rolling at Jackson's.

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Fight Network previews Max Holloway vs. Charles Oliveira.

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Tyron Woodley answering questions while deadlifting.

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Brock Lesnar talks Ronda Rousey.

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Quinton Jackson commenting on the UFC's Reebok deal.

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Firas Zahabi teaching a d'arce from a front headlock suplex.

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Long watches.

'You're Welcome' with Chael Sonnen - Rampage Jackson

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UFC Holloway vs Oliveira Care/Don't Care Preview

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TWEETS

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Down under.

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Beef.

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Please be careful.

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Hmmm.

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Rebound.

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Nice.

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That damn media at it again.

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Same here.

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FIGHT ANNOUNCEMENTS

Announced yesterday (Aug. 19 2015)

Evan Dunham vs. Joe Lauzon at The Ultimate Fighter 22 Finale

Ryan LaFlare vs. Mike Pierce at The Ultimate Fighter 22 Finale

Michael Bisping vs. Robert Whittaker at UFC 193

Akbarh Arreola vs. Jake Matthews at UFC 193

Ricardo Abreu vs. Daniel Kelly at UFC 193

Kyle Noke vs. Peter Sobotta at UFC 193

Steve Kennedy vs. Richard Walsh at UFC 193

Anthony Perosh vs. Gian Villante at UFC 193

Jessica Andrade vs. Raquel Pennington at UFC 191

Roan Carneiro out, Uriah Hall vs. Gegard Mousasi at UFC Fight Night: Barnett vs. Nelson

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FANPOST OF THE DAY

Today's Fanpost of the Day comes via ynassar.

Previewing Lions FC VI

The 6th edition of Lions FC has been announced for September 12th in Neuchatel (Switzerland). Headlined by a middleweight bout between Cheick Kone and Lahat Faye, the card features another 11 bouts in what promises to be a stellar event showcasing some of Europe's most promising fighters.

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Check out the rest of the post here.

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