Bellator has lost one of its longtime broadcast members.
Color commentator Jimmy Smith has parted ways with the Viacom-backed organization, Bellator announced Thursday in a press release. The release did not give a reason for Smith’s departure, but it did state that the decision was mutual. Ariel Helwani of MMAFighting.com reported that Smith’s contract ran out and the two parties failed to come to new terms.
"I am very grateful to the entire Bellator organization and fans for an amazing and unforgettable nine years,” Smith stated in the release. “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.”
At the time of his exit, Smith worked alongside two play-by-play announcers: Mauro Ranallo and former UFC commentator Mike Goldberg. The two aforementioned pairings were introduced only this past summer. Smith, who worked for Bellator for nine years, has also commentated with Sean Wheelock and, more recently, Sean Grande.
Before moving into broadcast work full time, Smith had a brief stint as a professional MMA fighter.
“Jimmy is one of the finest combat sports announcers of our time,” the release read. “He has played an integral role in the growth of Bellator as it has evolved into the successful global franchise it is today.”
Smith’s future plans were not immediately made clear. Helwani reported Thursday afternoon that the UFC has interest in the veteran commentator’s services, but that nothing is a done deal.
Additions to Bellator’s on-air team for 2018 are expected to be announced soon, per the press release. Per MMAFighting.com, Chael Sonnen will have a presence in the commentary booth, and Frank Mir, who already does commentary for Russia’s ACB, might make some appearances on the microphone, too. Both Sonnen and Mir are part of the upcoming Bellator heavyweight Grand Prix tournament, which kicks off in January.