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Mauro Ranallo talks landing gig on 'Inside MMA,' working with Bas Rutten, WWE, and raising mental health awareness

The combat sports broadcasting legend opened up about his new gig on "Inside MMA," with longtime friend Bas Rutten, landing a dream job with WWE, being an advocate for mental health, and yet another goal on his bucket list.

AXSTV/Ian Mosley

The talented voice of Mauro Ranallo has been a staple of the combat sports sphere for well over a decade now and his commentary has left a major impact on fight fans and aficionados.  No matter what the name is on the mic flag that sends his unique and energetic words through the airwaves, they've steadily remained unmistakable, unforgettable and in a league of their own.

Well versed in mixed martial arts, kickboxing and boxing, the Canadian commentator from Abbotsford, British Columbia has voiced some of the most memorable fights in all three of those sports including Floyd Mayweather vs. Manny Pacquiao. Most recently the tireless professional has added professional wrestling to his ever-growing list of duties, landing the gig as the new play-by-play voice of WWE Smackdown, which airs Thursday nights on USA Network.

Ranallo, 46, began his mixed martial arts (MMA) broadcasting career in 2003 calling the action for Pride Fighting Championships in Japan with UFC hall of famer, Bas Rutten. The two have since maintained a close friendship since then and recently launched the "Rutten and Ranallo" podcast together.  On March 25 2016, the duo will be reunited once again when Ranallo makes his debut as co-anchor for "Inside MMA" on AXSTV.

"It's awesome to be covering MMA with the guy who was instrumental in me being in the MMA industry in the first place," Ranallo told

Ranallo used to host a daily show called "The MMA Show" on The Score network in Canada from 2009-2011. After that he did a podcast called "The Show with Mauro Ranallo," which was similar to his first show, but that came to an end in 2012. Sure he's had play-by-play gigs galore the last few years, but nothing like those two shows. So was hosting a show on MMA something he sorely missed?

"It's funny you would ask that because the first question I've been getting all day is 'where do you find the time to do what you are doing?' but you are absolutely right," said Ranallo, who replaces Kenny Rice on the long running show. "Not everyone knows I did a show Monday through Friday for years up in Canada while still jumping on a plane on the weekends to go and do Showtime Championship Boxing or Strikeforce or what have you. So yeah, it was something that I genuinely missed.

"It's not even so much that I miss doing play-by-play (Ranallo doesn't currently hold a play-by-play gig in MMA), because I can fill that part of it easily on a weekly basis now with WWE, or Showtime Championship Boxing and even GLORY kickboxing, which I'm supposed to be doing the domestic events this year. In terms of MMA, I miss being on the inside. To be doing it with Bas and on a show that has earned the reputation that 'Inside MMA,' has. It's the longest independent running MMA show. Working with Ron Kruk and still having Kenny Rice involved as a special correspondent, I think we have an amazing team and we are going to continue doing what 'Inside MMA' has done, but I do hope to bring my vision and energy to the proceedings as well."

If you are familiar with his old show "The MMA Show," that is the vibe he wants to bring to 'Inside MMA' he says. And, of course, with him and Bas on screen together it would be next to impossible for the two of them to not have a good time and share some laughs. "When Bas and I are together the one thing we have is fun," he assured.

Ranallo affirms that the two of them aren't going to just be "yes" men to one another because of their personal relationship. They have "two distinct personalities," he says, and he will ask "insightful and hard hitting questions," while Bas will bring his "wealth of knowledge" from his hall of fame career.

Ultimately the broadcasting veteran is looking to bring a uniqueness to 'Inside MMA' while maintaining what the show has already been built on and, of course, have a good time with Bas while doing it.

"There are so many layers to MMA and the people who are responsible for the entertainment and the reason why we watch these fighters," Ranallo explained. "There are all kinds of stories. And I want to tell stories that are not always heard. X's and O's and predictions and regular interviews, there is a plethora of forms to get that. I want us to be a little different. I really don't even know what that means at this time, but I'd like to help 'Inside MMA' maintain its legacy, maintain its reputation. But, I'm always up for a challenge and I definitely want to put my stamp on it as well with my background and the energy and the chemistry that Bas and I bring."

Adding 'Inside MMA' to his endless list of gigs with Showtime Championship Boxing, GLORY Kickboxing, and WWE Smackdown, obviously seems like quite the daunting task to be able navigate through on a consistent basis. Living in Los Angeles has been of great benefit to him. He first worked with AXSTV on New Japan Pro Wrestling. "It's why I'm able to do what I do, otherwise it would be impossible," he says, in reference to having to go back and forth to Canada.

Ranallo has his weekly schedule laid out, continues to be a "research junkie," by constantly reading up on the latest news in pro wrestling and combat sports, and then shifts gears to record the podcast with Rutten and then on to live events or now, the new show.

He says the key to it all of it is compartmentalization.

"You said the word my man: compartmentalize, which I never used to be able to do well," he admitted. "If I could compartmentalize like I can now in my twenties I would've been even more ahead of the game than the blessings I've already achieved. Compartmentalize is the word. Sunday, Monday, Tuesday my mind belongs to WWE. I still find time to go to the gym. I still make sure I watch my 'House of Cards,' my other quality TV because one thing I used to do going back to my days in Canada, one of the reasons I think that I've had other issues with my health as you know Michael, is I'm a 'burn the candle at both ends' kind of guy. I want to kick the crap out of every single second of every minute of every day. I know that you can't do that in life. I know this is an incredibly ambitious undertaking. I know a lot of people wonder, especially loves ones, there is some concern 'well is he going to burn himself out?' I will tell you now at 46, that I feel better, way better than I did in my thirties, and definitely better than in my twenties in terms of my lifestyle."

The multi-talented, multi-faceted broadcaster knows he's not superhuman, but he has vowed to his fans that if he ever starts slipping in one of his jobs, he wouldn't continue on.

"I also promised to everyone that you will get the best of me no matter what the sport is," he proclaimed. "As soon as one of my jobs begins to suffer I will not continue to take money if I don't think I'm doing the best job possible. So I'm preparing myself for 2016 because I know how blessed and I know how rare this opportunity truly is and I'm not going to do a disservice to first of all my employers or to the audience or the fans because I want to give you guys the best coverage whether it is WWE, boxing, kickboxing or MMA. That is my goal."

It goes without saying what Ranallo has been able to accomplish in his career is truly astonishing. From combat sports to pro wrestling, there isn't much he hasn't done since he began as a young teenager in Vancouver for All-Star Wrestling. He says he's not the type of guy to look back, but he is "very humbled and very happy," with all he has done thus far. In terms of reflection though, the one thing that means the most to him he said, is WWE.

"The one thing that really means more to me than any other because of the family relationship is the WWE," said Ranallo. "My dad and my mom have been lifelong fans. My dad complains always about it, but as a young kid I remember at five years old going to the local matches on a weekly basis with my family. And it's funny because my dad is not a big boxing fan and he doesn't really understand MMA. He knows I've done well and had a successful career, but I can really see the pride on his face. It's kind of cool that I've been able to do this while they are still alive. That probably means more to me than anything."

WrestleMania is around the corner and there is a strong possibility Ranallo could be a part of the broadcast in some form or fashion, since the show is typically long in length. His excitement at the possibility is beyond palpable, it's kid in a candy store type giddiness.

"If I do manage to make the show whether it's kickoff show or the actual pay-per-view, than that's it," he exclaimed. "You can say good night to me. I'll be a happy man my friend. If I could actually say I called a match at Wrestlemania, I mean what more do I want in this world after calling Floyd Mayweather, Pride, it's really ridiculous and the more I talk about it the more ridiculous it sounds to me."

"I wasn't supposed to be this success," he continued. "I was a young kid from a small town in BC, who grew up with a lot of mental health issues and I think more than anything I want people to understand that if I can make it the way that I have and hell, just even live life, I hope I can inspire and motivate others to just continue to chase their dreams. The stigma that surrounds mental illness to this day is disgusting. I am appalled at the government and the medical community and the lack of resources and attention being paid. We just lost another MMA fighter here in Canada. A twenty-year boy named Cody Globe, who committed suicide after trying to get help and being told there is a wait. And again, I don't know who we blame. It's just like the 2008 housing crisis, where all these big bankers put millions of people out of their lives and no one went to jail. Well, I'm thinking the same thinking is happening when it comes to mental health. It's not a weakness, it's a sickness. It's a disease. And as much as cancer affects all of us, we should paying as much attention to mental health as we do to cancer research or any other research to cure an illness."

Ranallo, who has also been known as the "Bipolar Rock N' Roller," has been a longtime advocate for mental health awareness. He's been an open book about his struggles throughout his life and is always trying to raise awareness. #MentalHealthMondays is always a fixture on his social media accounts and he's always looking to spread the word high and far.

"The more success I achieve, the one thing that makes me happy is I continue to get bigger platforms where I can try to be an advocate," he said. "It literally boils my blood and breaks my heart when I read about people like Cody, who at twenty years of age killed himself. And you know Mike, I say this all the time, anyone out there, if you are suffering and if you know someone who is suffering, I do respond to every email and I receive hundreds. They are free to contact me at email and I will do my best to at least if not help them directly, or put them in touch with people who can."

He has all the play-by-play gigs. He's back covering MMA on "Inside MMA," and landed a dream gig with WWE, but is there another gig on his bucket list that he hasn't mentioned?

"Interesting question because what more could I want? Enough is enough Mauro leave some for the rest of the world," he laughs out loud. "Honestly I would love to die in spectacular fashion in a big budge movie. I would love to be absolutely obliterated whether shot up or stabbed. I want to have a gruesome death on film Michael, as morbid as that sounds. And here I am trying to preach the podcast of positivity with Mauro Ranallo and look at the positive side of life. But that is something I'm hoping for. And I'm not talking some small film here brother. It has to be... I want to be in a Scorcese flick where I don't even care if I last five seconds. I want to go down and I want to down big."

Maybe in a Sharknado while calling a fight?

"Sharknado would be perfect!"

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