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The Interview: Bellator MMA’s Jimmy Smith

Recently we used the moniker “can’t stop, won’t stop” to describe some of our feature fighter that we interviewed like Kevin Lee, Carl Perry and others. Well today we have a special treat for you! One could argue he is a modern day “OG” of that saying, he wears or has worn the hat of fighter, TV Host, color commentator and more! He is none other than the host of Bellator’s reality show Fight Master, he is Jimmy Smith! We were super pumped when he agreed to take the time to sit down and do an interview with us, make sure to get over to Twitter and follow him @jimmysmithmma!  So without further delay we give you Jimmy Smith!

Hey Jimmy, thanks for taking the time out of your schedule to sit down with us. Can you take a minute and talk to us about what got you into the world of MMA?  You have worn a bunch of different hats in the world of MMA (fighter, commentator, host, etc) talk to us about the differences and what got you into doing the commentating role.

Smith: I was always a fan of fighting growing up. My grandfather was a boxer in the US Army and my dad boxed as a kid. I was never the type to really get in a lot of trouble as a kid, but I went to a pretty rough high school and had to fight about once a year to send a message. I was a wrestler in high school and got introduced to BJJ at UCLA. Didn’t think I would do it as a career until I wasn’t able to get into UCLA for graduate school. Teaching was only a means to an end, something to pay the bills while I trained. I don’t recommend public education to anyone unless you REALLY have a passion for it.

I sort of fell into commentary as well. Was doing Fight Quest and got a call from Jerry Millen. He was producing M1 and needed a color commentator to fly to Amsterdam the following week. I said “Sure, I can do that.” and I was on a plane four days later. Loved doing it instantly.

The biggest difference between being in the cage fight and being outside talking about it is the fact that you have to keep so many things in mind. As a fighter you only have to worry about your opponent, being part of a TV production, there are a lot more variables.

Wow that’s amazing! I guess there is more to commentating than just yelling the word “rocked” hahaha. Can you tell us about your career as a fighter and who was your toughest and most memorable fight?

Smith: I’m a brown belt with a 6-1 record, first fight I had isn’t recorded anywhere. Toughest fight had to be Vince Gooseman from Millenia MMA. He took me down and I went for a triangle/armbar combo on him. He fought out of it and landed 2 HARD shots on my left eye, it went out like a light and I couldn’t see. I just kept going for submissions and every time he would get out he would attack that eye again until it was a mess. I finally caught him putting too much pressure on me and took his arm. My most memorable fight was a sub I got on Mario Ackerbert. I drove 10 hours and submitted him in 29 seconds (Sherdog has the fight time incorrectly listed). He was a local fighter and really popular, crowd was stunned and totally silent.

HAHAHA That is awesome! Gotta love pulling the upset on the road and making an entire arena or gym or silent! So you are now a big part of the new Bellator reality show Fight Master. Tell us about your experiences and some of the craziest things you saw.

Smith: I was only on the set of Fight Master for the fight days due to my obligations with Bellator (they fought on the weekends). They really had a great group of really humble and hard-working guys. I think that made them easy to root for and connect with as people. The craziest thing I saw was Joe Riggs on weigh-in days. The amount that dude cut every week was insane, he looked like death every time, but he made it and fought his heart out.

Yeah Diesel is the man! I was glad to see the show really did show the real side of him and what he goes through. Now you were on TV on one of my favorite shows back in the day Fight Quest (if you haven’t seen it go find it it’s amazing!). Talk to us about your experiences on that show cause you were in some crazy places and where the hell did it go, I loved that show! 

Smith: I feel the need to say something about Fight Quest. The #1 question I get asked TO THIS DAY is :”Why don’t they make anymore Fight Quest episodes?” I’m going to say this once and hope those people read it: NO ONE WATCHED FIGHT QUEST!!! The only reason any show goes away is because the numbers aren’t there, Fight Quest is no exception. The rating were never good and they buried us in a terrible time slot, we knew from the start of the first season that we weren’t going to do another season of it. Most people discovered FQ AFTER its initial run on Discovery when it had already run its course. I had some amazing experiences shooting that show and I’ll never forget it. The people I met were truly extraordinary and to be let into their gyms was an incredible honor. The shooters and producers of the show were amazing and they did a great job of capturing the essence of what Doug and I did when we were overseas.

It really was an epic show and sucks that ratings blew because I think if it came back people would be all over it! Loved watching you kick that tree haha. Now you have been around the world of MMA for a while and worked in various promotions such as M-1, Bellator and others. Talk to us about what makes them so special and who are some people we should keep our eye on?

Smith: The professional character of the fighters and their management has really changed since I first got into the sport. Guys are training on a “professional athlete” level that didn’t exist in the early days of the sport. The knowledge that used to be part of select teams has really filtered down to just about everyone in the game now. Working for Affliction and M1 was a ton of fun, but you could see pretty early on the flaws that led to the downfall of both organizations. Bellator is a great organization to commentate for, they put on exciting fights and the fans always leave satisfied. I love the fact that you can’t really get a pass in Bellator. People talk about the big names in Bellator, but it’s been the dark horses: Askren, Chander, Curran, who have really excelled in the Bellator cage. The big names in Bellator like Dan Hornbuckle, Razor Rob, Marlon Sandro, and Roger Huerta, failed to win titles. It’s the ones you aren’t ready for that seem to shine in Bellator.

I couldn’t agree more about not getting a pass in Bellator, we have had the honor of interviewing guys like Zach “fun size” Makovsky and others who spent time in the promotion and they would agree. How are some of your favorite guys to watch and are there any under the radar guys you can tell us about you have seen? Also if you could make a MMA card with no restrictions who would be on it?

Smith: Personally, Dan Henderson is a guy I’ve been lucky to train with in the past and he is a really nice guy in addition to being a great fighter. Under the radar? Jason Butcher is 6-0 and has finished all of his opponents in the first round. Wicked triangle, but he has a tough test ahead of him in Giva Santana, if he gets past Giva he might be the favorite in the 185 tourney. If I could make a fight card with no restrictions I’d have the Bellator champs take on the UFC champs of course, I think we’d see some amazing fights.

That may be the coolest answer I have ever seen and I think that Bellator may have more success than people think, Askren is an animal. What is the most important thing you have learned from your time spent in and around the world of MMA?

Smith: I think the most important thing I’ve learned in the fight world is that hard work solves everything. I’ve seen so many talented fighters fall because they just didn’t have the work ethic to put in the effort every day and tried to coast. The world doesn’t reward people like that. Give me a hard worker over a talented fighter any day.

Truer words may never be spoken sir! Now it’s time for the age old Fight Club Question, if you could stand across the cage from anyone from any time who would it be and why?

Smith: Bruce Lee. I’ve only seen one clip of Bruce sparring a real opponent. Love to see what he could do in the cage.

WOW, that is the first time we have got that answer! It would be mind-blowing to see what he could do in the cage! I am sure you are asked this all the time, if someone was thinking about getting into the world of MMA what would the first piece of advice you give them be?

Smith: If you want to get into MMA there are only 2 things to do: 1. Find an experienced team that fits well with you. 2. WORK YOUR ASS OFF AND LISTEN TO YOUR COACHES.

Very good advice! Well this has been amazing, before we let you go are there any people or sponsors you would like to mention?

Smith: Want to give a big shout out to the guys at Future Legend, they’ve been great to me. Love hearing from fans on twitter @jimmysmithmma.

There you have it fight fans! The man, the myth, the legend Jimmy Smith. Make sure to get over to Twitter and talk to him, he is really personable with his fans and full of knowledge in all sorts of things!

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