The next move of former Bellator announcer Jimmy Smith’s career hasn’t been decided yet, but he sounds fully prepared to test free agency. The longtime voice of the Viacom based promotion ended his 8 years in the booth this last December, having followed the MMA organization from Fox Sports Net to MTV2 to its current home on Spike TV. And while he didn’t end his run with Bellator on bad terms it sounds like he’s ready to see what the MMA landscape has to offer him (transcript via MMA Fighting).
“Bellator really made a good-faith effort to keep me,” Smith told Ariel Helwani in a recent interview on the MMA Hour. “They really did everything they could. I truly believe that. It’s never an easy call because of the people you’ve worked with, the people you’ve gotten to know and the relationships you’ve formed. They’re great guys over in Bellator. It wasn’t easy, but I don’t step back. I don’t step down. I felt it was time for a change and a move because of that, in a sense. Like I said, if it doesn’t come up to the standards up the option I already had, you know what, I’m going to take a risk, I’m going to take a jump, I’m going to test out free agency.”
In this case, “free agency” may very well mean becoming the latest addition to the UFC booth. And if that happens, it may mean even more comparisons to pseudo-doppelganger and UFC mainstay Joe Rogan.
“The only thing that gets me that I never seem to understand is, yeah, of course we look similar; we’re bald white guys. But what’s funny to me is, when people say that I’m trying to be Joe, how does one even do that?” Smith joked, speaking on comparisons to himself and Rogan. “I get so confused about, like, do they think I stand in front of the TV and try to emulate Joe? I don’t think we call fights very similar. I think we have a slightly different style of commentating fights. But that’s what’s so funny to me, is the people who assume I automatically emulate the guy.
“People go, ‘Man, you look like Joe.’ Yeah, well, we didn’t until he shaved his head. It’s funny, I told [Rogan], ‘The moment you shaved your head’ — because when I watch old UFCs, when I’m studying something and I watch old UFCs, when he had hair, we didn’t look that similar. When he was on News Radio, nobody compared me to him or thought I looked like him. And as soon as he shaved his head, I was like, ‘Oh my God, this is going to suck.’ I knew immediately what was going to happen, so we kinda laugh about that when we see each other, like, ‘Thanks, dude. Thanks, I appreciate that.’”
As for when news of his next move is going to drop? “Within the week,” teased Smith. So, it sounds like fans will know exactly where to tune in to hear Smith again, soon.