Mike Schiavello on Announcing, Pro Wrestling and Japanese MMA

Gary HermanCorrespondent IDecember 20, 2011

Mike Schiavello believes he has a gift.

For the fans that have tuned into HDNet to see any of the recent Dream MMA or K-1 kickboxing shows, Schiavello has demonstrated a very unique storytelling ability.

The Australian native is one of the fastest commentators in MMA history. His color commentators are often heard laughing during the middle of a broadcast.

“God given gift of quick-wit,” Schiavello said. “I’ve been doing this for 16 years—always the same style. It’s a lot of experience.”

Over the past few years, Schiavello has made his name in the U.S. He is the lead announcer for HDNet. He has covered a variety of smaller promotions in the U.S., but his specialty is the Japanese fight scene.

In his career, Schiavello has called over five thousands fights.

“I’ve commentated so many fights it’s hard to pick a favorite,” Schiavello said, when asked for his most memorable matches. “For K-1, I’m going to go with Masato vs. Souwer at Budokhan Hall in 2007. Sammy Schilt vs. Peter Aerts was amazing.”

“For MMA, I love Hatsu Hioki vs. Marlon Sandro in Sengoku’s end of year show last year.”

Unfortunately though, the major Japanese fight scene has not been anywhere near as popular is it was in the early 2000’s. Gone are the massive sell-outs for Pride FC.

“The local shows are flourishing at the moment,” Schiavello said. “The big shows not so much. K-1 is in trouble. They owe a lot of money. On the other hand, Dream has real entertainment.”


Schiavello is clearly a big fan of Dream—even though the organization is not drawing anywhere near as well as Pride did. Rumors about Dream’s demise have recently circulated.

“Dream is a great show from a TV perspective,” Schiavello said. “I think there is potential there. I think they will do several more cards.”

The fall from prominence for K-1 is what has caused people to think the same future is on the way for the MMA promotion.

“I don’t think Dream has a problem—It’s FEG,” Schiavello said, referring to the organization that oversees K-1. “Real Entertainment handles Dream. They are still paying their fighters on time. They’re still drawing big crowds.”

As long as Dream is attracting people to the arenas, Schiavello will be the person calling the action for U.S. fight fans.

His somewhat bombastic style of calling the action filled with one-liners has caused many onlookers to believe his style would also be suited for pro wrestling.

Schiavello sees some similarities and some differences.

“They’re both live spectacles,” Schiavello said. “They are both a combat style of entertainment, but the biggest obvious difference is the MMA is real and pro wrestling is not.”

“You can’t schedule anything in mixed martial arts. It’s not pro wrestling. You don’t know the storylines.”


Recently, former pro wrestlers Brock Lesnar and Bobby Lashley have made the switch to the cage. Lesnar credits his past history with World Wrestling Entertainment for teaching him how to be a star.

Schiavello feels that more fighters should follow the former UFC heavyweight champion’s lead.

“MMA fighters can learn from pro wrestling on how to better market themselves,” Schiavello said.

However, for someone to become a successful announcer like Schiavello has, he offers much simpler advice.

“Practice, practice, practice. Pay your dues.”

Gary Herman is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained first-hand.