Ex-UFC employee has a good theory on why fighters are getting the best commentary gigs
Jimmy Smith has opened up on his shock departure from the UFC.
At the turn of the year, Smith revealed that the UFC declined the opportunity to re-sign him for another year despite his popularity among mixed martial arts fans.
The move came as a surprise to many because the former Bellator commentator had transitioned so seamlessly to life in the UFC.
Smith revealed how he came to learn that his services were no longer required, claiming that the organisation was going in a new direction for their deal with ESPN.
"Very simply it was, ‘you’re great, fantastic, we love everything you did but we’re going with UFC fighters for 2019. So, that’s it," Smith said on the MMA Hour.
"I don’t think I’m leaving out any syllables. That was literally the conversation. It was, ‘loved everything you did but with fewer shows, we’re going with UFC fighters for those shows. Other than Joe [Rogan] it’s all UFC fighters, that’s it. We had no issue with your performance, everybody loved you, but you didn’t fight in the UFC,’ so that’s it."
Smith, who has a professional record of 5-1 in MMA, has a theory about why the UFC is insisting on having their own fighters commentate on bouts moving forward.
"What does it also do for them contractually?" Smith continued. "Hey, when you're done then you'll get airtime.
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Well, it’s the same pic I used last year at this time so I figure it’s appropriate. I’m afraid I have to report that the UFC has decided not to re-sign me and my time with the promotion has come to an end. It was really an amazing year and first of all I want to thank all of the people at the UFC who really went out of their way to make me feel welcome. The producers, the support staff, and the audio crew (I’m thinking of you Pockets) were all fantastic made me feel right at home. Of course @jon_anik @joerogan @kbheat @sugarashadevans @meganolivi @brendanfitztagram @laura_sanko @kennyflorian and everyone else I shared the stage with were fantastic and generous and it was a pleasure working with all of you. To the UFC fighters who give everything they have to this sport: I want you to know I did everything I could to honor and respect you every time I was privileged to watch you work. Your sacrifice is what makes this sport amazing to behold. I am humbled by your skills and courage every time. Most of all I want to thank the UFC’s incredible fans. You made me feel welcome from the start and I was proud to have the opportunity to entertain you for at least a little while. Hearing a rabid Australian shout “WELCOME TO THE UFC JIMMY!!” at my first event in Perth is an experience I will remember for a long time. Whenever I finished a show and we congratulated each other behind the scenes I always thought “Only matters if the fans liked it.” You are an amazing group and no matter what I did you were always foremost on my mind. The new year always brings change. I have no idea what is coming next but 2018 was an amazing ride and hopefully there is more to come. As a great band once said...Adios Amigos
"What's the message that sends to people who are fighting? If you're on the team, you'll get airtime. If you play ball, you'll get airtime. You might get a desk job.
"These guys don't have a parachute. They don't have anything at the end so it's another incentive, that they might be on the commentary team.
"Even beyond what the fans think and how they do the job and all these things, from their point of view everything is in house. You're using people who might be at the end of their career and might need a little incentive.
"They're saying, 'You might get on the Fox desk a little bit. You might have something when it's all over.'
"Do the fans care? Maybe, maybe not.
"They have to learn how to do the job on the job, which is hard. But it also gives the UFC another incentive for their fighters and that's important. From their point of view, it's kind of another carrot and stick for fighters."