Jimmy Smith a long time Bellator MMA commentator recently parted ways with the promotion and signed with the UFC, and will make his cage-side debut at UFC 221, Jimmy has kindly given me an exclusive interview:
MMAUK: Could you tell us the background to you parting ways with Bellator?
Jimmy: Parting ways with Bellator was just the result of a contract negotiation where we couldn’t come to an agreement that I felt was right for me. They informed me in October that they weren’t going to pick up my option for 2018 and that they wanted a new contract. We spent a few months negotiating, but I wasn’t pleased with their final offer and moved on.
MMAUK: Leaving Bellator was that something you could see coming either something you could sense from them or even yourself, did you fancy going elsewhere and working in another promotion?
Jimmy: I had a suspicion that they weren’t going to renew my option for 2018. I knew if they didn’t I would be in negotiations with a few promotions. It was the first time in my career I had been 100% free to do that, so it was an interesting experience to say the least. In the end I really felt it was time to move on and try something new.
MMAUK: Have you got a favourite Bellator moment and fight?
Jimmy: Favorite Bellator fight of all time would be Chandler/Alvarez 1. That was an amazing fight from bringing to end and really showed what both fighters were capable of. The moment has to be my Bellator debut in Hollywood Florida. Nervous as hell, but it all worked out in the end.
MMAUK: Commentating on MMA isn’t the only thing you do, what else do you do besides your MMA commentating work?>
Jimmy: Everything besides my commentary work is a hobby, but I have a few of them. Still do my BJJ 4-5 times a week, play chess, write, read, travel. There aren’t many things I’m not interested in to tell you the truth.
MMAUK: When your Bellator departure was announced, how soon did the UFC negotiations begin?
Jimmy: Negotiations with the UFC were well underway by the time my departure from Bellator was announced. Between October and December, I was free to negotiate with any interested party, and the UFC was right at the top of the list. Things were almost finalised with them when I left Bellator.
MMAUK: What are the details of your UFC deal, to the amount of shows you will cover, PPV or Fox and any other UFC duties?
Jimmy: All I can say about my UFC deal is that it includes just about everything: working at the FOX desk, working live events as an analyst, and doing promotional pieces. I’ve been busy since the new year.
MMAUK: Are there any specific Bellator fighters you would love to see come over or even back to the UFC?
Jimmy: All of the guys at the top of Bellator are seriously amazing talents. I would love to see any of them over in the UFC.
MMAUK: Cutting weight is a real problem at the moment, what do you think the specific problems are and are there any obvious solutions?
Jimmy: The trouble with weight cutting is that the most successful fighters typically cut a lot of weight, so just about every fighter is incentivized to take the risk. There aren’t any easy solutions but I know a few athletic commissions are working on hydration tests to make the process a but safer. Have to see how those developments shake out in 2018.
MMAUK: For the coming year, what three fights would you love to see happen?
Jimmy: Just announced that DC and Stipe will be battling, can’t wait to see that. Whittaker vs the winner of Rockhold/Romero and RDA versus anyone at 170.
MMAUK: Thanks for your time again Jimmy, and really looking forward to your work in the UFC, personally I think you will bring a fresh approach to the UFC product!