It’s official — former Bellator commentator Jimmy Smith has signed with the UFC.
In a move that is really no surprise, the UFC have acquired the services of veteran color commentator Jimmy Smith. Smith, himself a former fighter (5-1 as pro) and host of the 2007 Discovery Channel series Fight Quest, was the longest-serving member of Bellator’s broadcast booth. Altogether, Smith spent roughly nine years with the Viacom-backed promotion. During that period, Smith outlasted play-by-play men Sean Wheelock and Sean Grande.
— UFC (@ufc) January 12, 2018
The addition of Jimmy Smith to the UFC broadcast team was made official Friday, both on social media and via press release. UFC vice-president Craig Borsari (via MMA Fighting) was quoted as saying that “Jimmy’s extensive experience in mixed martial arts gives him a unique voice and great insight to breakdown the intricacies of our sport. We are excited to welcome him to the family.”
Smith, meanwhile, took to Twitter to address the signing. “Honored to be a part of the
@ufc and getting to call the biggest fights in the world!! Can’t wait to get to know everyone there and show how hard I can work!!”
Per MMA Fight’s Ariel Helwani, Smith’s first assignment with the UFC will come at UFC 220 later this month. He’ll take part in the Fox Sports 1 broadcast prior to the PPV card.
Smith’s release by Bellator MMA is one of the most surprising moves in recent months. As the voice of the company for nearly a decade, he was popular among fans. Additionally, Smith is regarded as one of the best color commentators in the business. His signing could also pave the way for eventual retirement for Joe Rogan, who has taken on a reduced role in the UFC in recent years. Rogan famously tried to recruit Smith to the UFC several years ago.
Cageside’s Mike Straus spoke to Smith about his departure from Bellator earlier this week, which you can read here.