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Ringside announcer Sean Grande bids farewell to Bellator MMA, teases ‘big name, old school’ replacements

Spike TV's 10th Annual Guys Choice Awards - Arrivals Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

Bellator 180: “Sonnen vs. Silva” heads to Madison Square Garden in New York, N.Y., on June 24, 2017, featuring a grudge match years in the making between Chael Sonnen against Wanderlei Silva in the pay-per-view (PPV) main event of the evening.

When that moment arrives, a familiar face from the broadcast team will be gone. And it won’t mark the first time the mixed martial arts (MMA) league has switched out its ringside talent. Indeed, almost two years ago we saw Boston Celtics announcer Sean Grande replace Sean Wheelock and now Grande tells MMA Fighting that he’s ready to step aside.

“The rapid expansion of Bellator in that time was an amazing thing to be a part of. But, and you knew the ‘but’ was coming at some point — it was a double-edged sword for me. The deal I signed two years ago, to call 16 shows, half of which would be in the NBA off-season, would be taxing, but manageable. You know the rest of the story. Sixteen almost out of nowhere became 22 ... 23 ... 24. A third of them overseas, two-thirds of them during the NBA season. Suddenly, Boston/Oklahoma City/San Antonio/New Orleans road trips had intermediate stops in Torino, Italy, or Budapest, Hungary. It quickly spiraled out of control.”

And even though Grande has some regrets about giving up a job he pursued passionately, at the end of the day his health and family come first.

“I’m deeply proud of the work we did, and the evolution of the show. In fact, many of us were disappointed there wasn’t a strong internal push for an Emmy nomination, something that not only would have been deserved, but also been a milestone for the sport. But all of it, came at a significant price to me. I ignored the growing concerns about my health, and while being away from my son is part of the deal in my line of work, there are no home games in Bellator. So at the end of the day, the end of this year, it was just simply way too much time away from him.”

Who will be next to step into the broadcast booth? As he did so long ago with his social media profile, Grande likes to drop hints that will have people pondering ... and smiling.

“A couple of MMA play-by-play veterans who recently ended up on the waiver wire, greatly helped me find peace with this. You’ll be in good hands, and I have a hunch old-school fans are really going to have a blast.”

It’s not hard to guess who the front runnner to fill his shoes might be. In the meantime Grande offered MMA Mania some exclusive comments on his favorite Bellator memories.

“I’d say the two best fights, both in quality and storyline were obviously Chandler-Henderson, which was not only an elite level fight, but also a clinic on scoring as each round left you wondering, who won? Or was that a 10-8? The other was Pitbull-Straus in St. Louis in November of 2015, great drama throughout. But more than anything my highlights were our team, starting with Jimmy and our pairing, which exceeded even my very high hopes.”

To check out the latest Bellator MMA-related news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive news archive right here.

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