Jimmy Smith returning to Bellator broadcast team starting with Dublin card in June

Jimmy Smith is coming home.

The veteran color commentator and play-by-play man is returning to call fights for Bellator MMA, starting with the upcoming show scheduled on June 22 in Dublin, Ireland. Smith previously called fights for Bellator from 2010 to 2017 before joining UFC and eventually working with WWE.

Now Smith returns to his old stomping ground to join a broadcast team that includes Sean O’Connell on play-by-play and fellow analyst Dan Hardy.

“I got a phone call,” Smith told MMA Fighting of how the reunion came together. “‘Hey, do you want to come do some shows for us?’ I went, ‘Sure, yeah, great, no problem.’ People have this idea that I rekindled things, it’s not like I haven’t seen Scott Coker since then. It’s not like I haven’t been in touch with Bellator people since then. I called the directors and producers, we’re friends. So every now and then I’ll catch up, ‘How’s it going?’ It’s not like there was some titanic, horrible burned bridges incident that we had to overcome. It was nothing like that at all. It was simply, ‘Hey, would you like to come do some shows for us?’ I said, ‘Yeah, sure, I’d love to.’

“It was a surprise a little bit, but not that much. It wasn’t like once again that we had some kind of blow up or anything like that. It had just been a long time since I worked for them.”

The ownership at Bellator has changed since Smith’s tenure with the promotion. PFL now owns and operates Bellator under its umbrella, but the brand still exists as its own entity.

Smith revealed it was former FOX executive and current PFL producer George Greenburg who reached out to ask him about coming back. As of now, Smith is exclusive to the Bellator brand, but he’s open to whatever the promotion wants from him moving forward.

“Right now it’s Bellator,” Smith said. “They said, ‘Go overseas, do some Bellator shows over in Europe for us,’ which is great. That sounds absolutely fantastic. PFL has a big squad of commentators. I’m not saying I couldn’t fit in or do stuff for PFL. It would be no problem at all. They have their guys, it’s kind of a packed house there.

“I think they’re trying to figure out how the Bellator brand’s going to be separate. If it’s going to be separate, how it works, and I know those fighters backwards and forwards. A lot of them were there when I was there years ago. Right now it’s exclusively Bellator and it’s some shows overseas before the end of the year. That’s the deal.”

Smith actually called fights alongside Hardy when they both worked for UFC, so he’s excited to pair up with him again for the upcoming Bellator cards.

He can’t wait to call fights for some of the same athletes who were with Bellator when he was previously with the promotion, but he’s also looking forward to meeting the newer additions that he believes makes this the best group of athletes in Bellator history.

“It’s the most talented roster Bellator’s ever had. Period,” Smith said. “I thought it was very talented when I was there but when you look at it now man they’re deep. It’s a really good brand with really good talent. There’s no other way to objectively see it.

“I am thrilled that there’s enough guys, Patricky Pitbull, Patricio [Pitbull] and all those people that I knew a while ago, and now there’s this new crop that I didn’t get a chance to necessarily call their fights, but I’ve been looking at them, and God, they’re amazing. It’s really an incredible crop.”

As far as calling fights, Smith appreciates that there’s going to be some enthusiasm around his return, but ultimately, he’s just ready to get to work and do his job in such a way that he enhances the broadcast every time he’s on the microphone.

Smith knows nobody is going to watch a Bellator card simply to hear his voice, but he hopes he always adds something to every broadcast when he’s there.

“No one has ever tuned into a fight because of Jimmy Smith, ever,” Smith said with a laugh. “Can I do a good job? Can I make a promotion better? Sure! But no one’s ever [said], ‘I really want to see that UFC because Jimmy Smith is commentating.’ It doesn’t work that way. You have to be professional and ready to go and prepared because no one’s tuning in for you.

“It’s not easy to make a show better with your commentary. It is easy to make it worse. It’s almost like being a referee. As long as I do my job, nobody notices me. When I ‘F’ up, then it’s the end of the world. That’s the line you have to ride and it’s very easy for me to make a show worse by not being prepared or bumbling something. But if I do it right, hopefully it’s all one experience and you don’t notice a difference. That’s my goal.”

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