There’s a big broadcasting shakeup in the MMA world, with former fighter and long-time commentator Jimmy Smith and the Bellator promotion announcing Thursday they’ve “mutually agreed to part ways.” Here’s more from their release:
“After a long and successful relationship, Jimmy Smith and Bellator have mutually agreed to part ways. Jimmy is one of the finest combat sports announcers of our time. He has played an integral role in the growth of Bellator as it has evolved into the successful global franchise it is today. The Paramount Network sports production team and Bellator MMA would like to thank Jimmy for his great work behind the mic over the years and wish him all the best in the future.”
“I am very grateful to the entire Bellator organization and fans for an amazing and unforgettable nine years,” Smith said. “As I move on to the next phase in my career, I want to wish all of the fighters, producers, and Bellator staff the absolute best.”
Smith had been with Bellator for nine years and had been calling their fights since Season Two back in 2010, first partnering with Sean Wheelock, then Sean Grande in 2015. When Grande stepped away in 2017 and Bellator brought in Mauro Renallo and Mike Goldberg, Smith wound up working with both at different times. It sounds like it’s going to be mostly Renallo and Goldberg calling Bellator fights going forward, but MMA Fighting reports there may be some other figures involved as well in the wake of Smith’s departure:
Sources tell MMA Fighting’s Ariel Helwani that Chael Sonnen will be a frequent presence in Bellator’s announce booth, and Frank Mir, who earned plaudits several years ago for his work as a WEC color commentator, is also expected to be in the mix.’
Smith has long been respected and appreciated by many MMA fans and media, and Bellator fights will be different without him. It will be interesting to see what he does next, and if he stays involved in calling MMA fights or turns to something else.