Jimmy Smith on UFC departure: I was told ‘we’re going with UFC fighters for 2019’

After recently receiving news that the UFC wouldn’t be renewing his contract, commentator Jimmy Smith admitted he knew the risk he was taking when he inked a one-year deal with the promotion.

Smith had his first UFC event in January of last year when he was part of the studio panel for team for UFC 220. The veteran commentator went on to do studio work as well as call several events throughout 2018, but when the UFC moved him switched him from calling UFC 230 to UFC Moncton, Smith knew something was up.

“My first inkling was Nov. 3. I was supposed to do [Daniel] Cormier-{Derrick] Lewis, it was supposed to be me, [Jon] Anik, and [Joe] Rogan.” Smith said recently on The MMA Hour. “And then I got an email about 10 days before and they said, ‘yeah there have been some card changes, so we’re moving the talent around. We want you to do the Moncton, Canada show. And I go to my computer and I pull up the bout sheets and I’m like, there haven’t been any card changes something’s up, that was my first inkling something was up.”

The UFC then notified Smith they wouldn’t be renewing his contract, instead favouring former fighters such as UFC middleweight champion Michael Bisping for their commentary duties moving forward.

“Very simply it was, you’re great, fantastic, we love everything you did. We’re going with UFC fighters for 2019, so, that’s it. I don’t think I’m leaving out any syllables. It was literally that was the conversation, it was, we love everything you did, fewer shows, we’re going with UFC fighters for those shows. That was it.”

A former analyst for Bellator, Smith understood the UFC was undecided about their future when they offered him a one-year deal, so not have his contract renewed is something that didn’t come as a huge surprise to the 41-year-old.

“I took a big risk and I knew that and what happened was, my contract with Bellator was up and they wanted to kind of renew the one that I had, it’s a long story but the UFC came to us and said ‘look, we don’t know where we’re going in 2019.’ the ESPN deal hadn’t been signed.” Smith said. “So, their thing was, we think he’s talented, we think he’s great, we’d love to have him on the team. We can’t do more than a year deal because we don’t know where we’re going no one has anything past 2018.’

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