Bellator Re-Signs On-Air Analyst Jimmy Smith To Five Year Deal
By Bellator MMA (via press release)
Newport Beach, Calif. (February 13, 2014) – After 109 Bellator events, fans around the world have become accustomed to hearing on air analyst MMA veteran Jimmy Smith break down the intricacies of every fight inside the Bellator cage. That analysis will continue as Smith and Bellator have agreed to a new five year contract extension that will keep the former fighter turned broadcaster on air for Bellator through 2018.
“I couldn’t be happier to know that the next half decade I’ll be able to continue calling Bellator home. The entire team at Bellator are really like family to me and to have seen this family/company grow the way it has since I came aboard is really incredible,” Smith said. “I’ve been with Bellator since the start of Season 2, and I’ve called almost 100 fights with the company over the last five years. Our partnership with Spike, the ratings, audience, sold out live events and most importantly the incredible fights, makes this a perfect situation for me. Having seen firsthand what’s happened over the last four years, I cannot wait to see what happens over the next five. I absolutely believe in Bjorn’s vision and in everything that Bellator, Spike and our family are doing. I’m just thrilled to be part of it long term. ”
A wrestler in high school, Smith began studying at UCLA and joined the schools wrestling club. After a local jiu-jitsu instructor showed up to teach a class for the club, Smith was hooked on mixed martial arts, and began training with Team Punishment in Huntington Beach. After a 6-1 professional career concluded in 2006, Smith began working on “Fight Quest”, which featured Smith traveling the world as he learned different fighting styles from across the globe. After a two year run on “Fight Quest”, Smith received a last minute call to commentate a fight in Russia with play-by-play man Sean Wheelock.
“I had no idea what to expect when I sat down, but Sean gave me a quick crash course in broadcasting, and I just took it from there,” Smith said. “From that point on, Sean and I began to build a chemistry together, and after calling fights all around the world together, we really developed a unique bond and comfort level with each other that I think transfers over to the broadcast. It was that chemistry that led Sean and I to Bellator.”
As Bellator was set to begin its second season in 2010, the promotion was looking for a veteran broadcast team to anchor the telecast. While the two had never met, a phone call between Smith and Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney was all that was needed to convince Rebney he had found the right team.
“I called Jimmy early in 2010 about the possibility of joining the Bellator team,” Rebney said. “I was familiar with his work, but had never had an actual conversation with Jimmy. I brought up that we were doing a welterweight tournament in our second season, and before I could talk about who was fighting, Jimmy gave me a breakdown of every fighter in the tournament, who he thought was the favorite, and who I should keep my eye on. It was evident then this was the guy we needed, and the rest is history. The chemistry between Sean and Jimmy is magic. In almost every highlight we have in our collection, those are the two voices you hear. They are in the fabric of everything we do, and it’s great to have Jimmy on board with our family for the next five years.”