Michael “The Voice” Schiavello is the veteran voice for Dream, KOTC, TFC, and will be commentating the preliminary match ups for the next Strikeforce card as well as many others. He was gracious enough to sit down and answer a few questions for us here at MMBB, so enjoy!
MMBB: Your Wiki page says you scored your first commentator gig at age 16, was commentating something you always wanted to do or did it just so happen you tried it and were good at it, and the rest as they say is history? Schiavello: By the time I did my first commentary, which was at the 1991 APS High School Athletic Championships at Melbourne’s Olympic Park, I was already hosting my own Sunday morning sports show on radio. It had never interested me to commentate really but I thought it’d be something fun to try which also gave me a chance to wag school! To think that initially and for the first 15 years of my life all I wanted to be was an architect. It is strange how destiny plays out in your life. I did the APS Championships and it turned out I had a talent for calling live action. After that I was super keen to do more commentary work and would go on to commentate live soccer on radio, some Aussie rules football and more athletics before eventually commentating fight sports at age 21. MMBB: Obviously you get to see the stars of Japanese MMA more than the average fan, do you think that many of those “stars” could compete in the states (UFC or Strikeforce) or do you see them as not quite as well rounded as those fighters fighting in the top organizations?
Schiavello: I think there are a lot of guys who could fare well in the United States, guys who are more geared towards knockouts and a harder striking style, like Kid Yamamoto who is now signed with UFC; Kawajiri who has good wrestling and vicious striking; and Takaya who is heavy handed. The more technical guys may have problems with the size and strength of the US fighters, particularly the stature and awesome power of US wrestlers. But you know, it’s hard to generalise. It depends on each and every fighter and who he is matched against.MMBB: How do you think Kid Yamamoto will fair in the UFC? Obviously the Japanese fighters (Gomi, Aoki) coming to the States haven’t faired very well in the past, why will “Kid” be different? Schiavello: His style is made for UFC. He is a big striker who knocks out with crazy flurries with his hands. He is also a world class wrestler so he will be able to match the US power wrestlers. I think he will do well. I hope so. He has always been a favourite of mine. MMBB: Rumor has it Scott Coker wants to bring part of the HW tourney to Japan, do you see it being feasible or are the reports that organized crime, namely the Yakuza, wouldn’t allow it? Schiavello: That would certainly be interesting and Japan could use the hype of having Fedor back over there in top competition alongside Overeem and Sergei and Werdum and Arlovski and Barnett, etc. As for the Yakuza, well, I don’t want to comment on that. I know that there has always been a connection between the fight game and organized crime and not just in Japan but in the United States as well for a long time. I’m not going to talk on things I don’t know about and will not speculate them. All I can say that if a US promoter was going to head to Japan, Scott with his close connection to FEG would be the one to do it. He is the one who knows the Japanese way of thinking and way of business the best. MMBB: Speaking of Strikeforce and their HW tournament, what are your thoughts on this tournament and who do you see winning it? Schiavello: I think it is great. I will be there for the Opening Round as we are broadcasting the prelim fights live on HDNET. I think Fedor and Overeem will be the ones to beat obviously. Fedor will come back really strong after his loss to Werdum. It may be the best thing to happen to his career as perhaps he was resting on laurels and needed a wake up call not to become complacent or sloppy. I hear he has been absolutely thrashing sparring partners in Russia in preparation for the GP. Let’s see what he brings in New Jersey. MMBB: What makes Overeem that much better than most of the competition? Is it him staying so active or something else? Schiavello: This will be a great test for Overeem. I love the guy. I love him as a fighter and I love him as a friend in the fight game. His style is awesome and the most exciting no-nonsense style in the world. If he goes through this Grand Prix and wins it all you can’t argue his status as the best heavyweight on the planet. I mean the guy is K-1 champion as well as MMA champion in two separate organizations. That’s pretty amazing. MMBB: The only thing that people have complained about when talking about the Tournament is the way the brackets are set up. Do you think Strikeforce made a mistake by putting Fedor, Overeem/Werdum in the same bracket rather than having them on opposite sides and possibly meeting in the finals? Schiavello: I would have liked to have seen them first up. What’s the difference where they fall in the tournament? I just want to see them fight each other! At least if they were matched first up there would have been MORE of a chance of them finally fighting one another, what with Alistair’s claims that Fedor has been ducking him. First fight up would equal no ducking and no chance of withdrawal due to injury and no chance of loss in the quarter finals. MMBB: At the fields dynamite YE show, you referenced dead WWE wrestlers on 2 or 3 occasions, I got to admit, I laughed. Do you have things you want to say already in your head or are all these off the cuff remarks spur of the moment? Schiavello: Most of it is spur of the moment, especially my wrestling references. Most of them are old school references as I’m a big old school wrestling fan when it was still WWF before the tree-huggers got the rights to the name! MMBB: Have you ever been approached by the UFC or Strikeforce to commentate in the United States, if so how do you think you’d be perceieved by the casual fans that watch these organizations, but probably don’t watch the shows from Asia that are live in the middle of the night? Schiavello: I commentate plenty of shows in the US such as MFC, King of the Cage, XFC, Adrenaline, am now doing Titan FC and will do the Strikeforce prelims. I have never been approached by UFC but I do really enjoy their product and am a huge fan of Goldie and Rogan, they’re my favourite commentary combination. As for my style, I think it goes down extra well with casual fans. It grips you, it excites you, it entertains you. If fights are boring casual fans will switch off unless the commentary can rivet them somehow, which is where I come in very handy! MMBB: What fights and fighters are you most looking forward to in the coming year (2011) and why? Schiavello: More Overeem, more Gokhan Saki, more Giorgio Petrosyan and definitely more Hatsu Hioki. Hioki’s fight against Sandro and the way he won it was one of my highlights of 2010. Also a few fighters from 2010 who impressed that I want to see more of in 2011 include Quinn Mulhern, Daniel Cormier, Mike Kyle, Nick Gaston and Marianna Kheyfets.
Thanks to BloodyElbow for allowing us to do this.