Bellator MMA’s next major event is Bellator 192: “Lima vs. MacDonald” at The Forum in Los Angeles, Calif., on Jan. 20, 2018. In all likelihood, Bellator would have called in Mauro Ranallo and Mike Goldberg for what it likes to call a “tent pole” event, but as has so often happened in recent times it could have also been a team of “Jimmy Smith and either one.”
Smith has been one half of the broadcast team for almost the entirety of Bellator MMA’s run, dating all the way back to being partnered with Sean Wheelock for season two back in the Bjorn Rebney days. After Wheelock was replaced by Sean Grande in 2015, Smith rolled with the punches and kept right on calling the action in the booth, using his own experience to provide thoughtful, intelligent insight.
The landscape changed again in 2017 when Grande stepped away for personal reasons and Bellator signed Mike Goldberg and Mauro Ranallo for commentary, leading to some confusion about what the broadcast team would be for Bellator NYC at Madison Square Garden. Scott Coker promised a rotating cast going forward, but as of today’s statement that rotation has seemingly ended.
“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.”
In a sign of the respect they have for Mr. Smith, he was given the opportunity to provide his own statement on his departure in an official press release.
"I am very grateful to the entire Bellator organization and fans for an amazing and unforgettable nine years. 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."
As the year 2018 begins it’s clear that Bellator is moving to a Goldberg and Ranallo team full-time, but don’t be surprised if Chael Sonnen pops in to the broadcast booth now and then if he’s not otherwise occupied by the Heavyweight Grand Prix.
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