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Bellator’s Jimmy Smith: Fedor is a ‘hard guy to get a bead on’

Bellator’s premier analyst and commentator shared some last-minute thoughts before Bellator NYC.

As an analyst, he’s one of the best in the game. As a commentator, he’s one of the most clear and concise voices. He’s constantly providing insight to viewers as well as proper context for those unfamiliar with what’s happening in the cage.

And as someone to interview? He’s as honest as they come, and he’s always got something smart to say. Jimmy Smith is arguably the centerpiece of the Bellator commentary team, and the former welterweight competitor has some interesting takes on the upcoming bouts this weekend.

After the ceremonial weigh-ins, he was generous enough to give BloodyElbow a few quick thoughts prior to Bellator 180/NYC. As always, he did not disappoint.

First, we discussed the more restrained face-off between Chael Sonnen and Wanderlei Silva before getting into Matt Mitrione vs Fedor Emelianenko:

Victor Rodriguez: So we saw the weigh-ins, a bit of energy and heat at the end but probably not as much as we expected, although we got a good amount of that at the press conference previously with the shove. What are your thoughts on that? Do you think there might be anything to it, or do you think it’s more a matter of them settling down to get serious for the fight?

Jimmy Smith: We have a lot more (people) up there, first off. I made sure..,’Aw come on, tell me there are enough guys.’ So, there were a lot of security guys up there. This is the point where there’s a fine line. You throw hands at the weigh-in with commissions here and stuff, you get what’s called a “suspension”. And then you don’t get paid, so you can’t be emotional. You can’t be that emotional. So they did the right thing.

VR: Well, you had a few beef-and-potato-eating cats up there, yeah. But Chael was going for a handshake there. Isn’t that a friendly gesture?

JS: That was aaaaalll gamesmanship. ‘I’m gonna be the bigger man...oh, if he hits me, I was trying to shake his hand.’ That’s very Chael. Just getting in his mind, man. I’m telling you.

VR: Alright, so in the case of Fedor vs Mitrione we’ve seen many predictions, which is hard to do because of all of the directions the fight can go in. I think the sheer unpredictability is a major factor that makes this fight compelling. What risks do you think both of these fighters face in this fight?

JS: I think that for Mitrione, he’s been very athletic, he moves around a lot, but he really likes dropping his hands. He really likes to rely on that athleticism rather than keeping his hands up and thinking defense. Fedor hits hard. And (Mitrione’s) a big target. You have a size advantage, you have a bigger guy but that’s a big target for Fedor. So really, neither guy is a defensive wizard and I think that’s that X-factor where everyone can go ‘man this can go either way’ because both guys can hit, both guys hit hard, both guys have knockout power. Neither guy shies away from a brawl. And I think the X-factor is Matt Mitrione’s defense.

VR: Do you think that Fedor’s mindset is affected by the bright lights? Obviously, he’s fought on grand stages before, so he’s used to that. But do you think at this point in his career his motivation may seem different? Or maybe I’m reading too much into this?

JS: I don’t know, man. The thing about Fedor is that he’s a hard guy to read. I mean he’s a master of you know, wearing that mask. Nobody knows what he’s really thinking. I’ve known Fedor coming up on ten years calling M-1 and stuff like that. Spent a lot of time with him and he’s a hard guy to get a bead on. So you never know what’s under there. You never know what he’s feeling, you never know what he’s thinking and that’s part of his mystique. We don’t know why or what exactly is on his mind when he goes in there, man.

VR: I noticed you got on the scale (the historic scale used for Ali/Frazier) a little didn’t read 170 when you were up there, did it?

JS: (Laughs) It did not! It’s been a long time since had to make 170 pounds, I’m not doing it for free! Screw that!

Bellator NYC goes down tonight, June 24th, in Madison Square Garden in New York City.