Few people were surprised that former Bellator MMA color commentator Jimmy Smith signed with Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) earlier this week following a departure from Bellator last month.
After all, UFC broadcast legend Joe Rogan has been lobbying for the promotion to bring Smith aboard for years. Smith’s recent departure from Bellator opened the door for UFC to sign one of the brightest commentating minds in the sport, which is exactly what the promotion did.
Now that Smith has found a new home with the biggest MMA outlet in the world, he’s able to reflect on his recent signing.
“I’m thrilled to be here. It’s been a long time coming and I’m actually getting jittery because I’m looking forward to it so much,” Smith said in an interview with BloodyElbow’s Stephie Haynes. “It’s a whole new world of fights and fighters, a whole new team—everybody over there has told me how excited they are that I’m coming over—it’s like I’m starting over again. I’m the new kid at a brand new school and I’m really excited about everything coming up. I get to be a part of the best promotion in the world and that’s huge for me. It’s the pinnacle of my career.”
As far as what Smith is going to be doing for UFC, the broadcast veteran made it clear that he’s willing to pitch in at every possible turn.
“They can use me for whatever they want, whenever they want,” said Smith. “The way it’s laid out is that I can do standup stuff in terms of the FOX studio offerings, I can do features like their Top 10 Knockouts kind of thing, commentary—everything is laid out, and it says, ‘We can use you for anything we want,’ and I went, ‘Great!’ It doesn’t matter. I’ll travel, it doesn’t matter to me, I love traveling. Nothing’s off the table.”
Using Smith for whatever UFC wants could result in the former Bellator commentator calling fights alongside Rogan.
“We certainly could,” said Smith. “I went to Vegas and met with Dana and everybody, and one of the things they told me was, ‘We like the fact that you can do a lot of different things,’ so trying out different combinations and different teams is part of the fun. Now, they’re doing three-man booths frequently, which they didn’t do before, so something like Anik, me and Joe is certainly a possibility. It’s all up to the UFC on how they want to use me, but I’m down for anything. I can’t imagine we won’t at least once.”
While Smith hopes that fight fans are excited about his recent decision to join UFC he also wants them to know that he’s not looking to replace Rogan, who has hinted at leaving his Octagon post in year’s past.
“Nope. There are two things I want to make really clear,” Smith said. “I’m not replacing Joe Rogan. Joe is still active with the UFC this year, so it’s not like I’m coming in and he’s leaving. The other thing I want to address is that people have some idea that I was somehow pushed out by Mauro [Ranallo] and Goldie [Mike Goldberg], that signing them kind of pushed me out. They were looking forward to working with me for years. They were easy to work with, fun to work with, and furthermore, they do a different job. They’re play-by-play guys. Nobody pushed me out of Bellator and I’m not pushing anybody out of the UFC.”
Whether or not UFC brought Smith aboard in case Rogan jumps ship in the next year or two, the former Bellator MMA commentator will be welcomed with open arms. He’s one of the best in the business and a nice consolation prize for the promotion after a nasty breakup with former UFC play-by-play announcer Mike Goldberg last year.