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Exclusive: Ten questions with Michael “The Voice” Schiavello

We are proud to present Michael “The Voice” Schiavello’s ProMMAnow.com debut (must pronounce: “day-boo”).

Michael “The Voice” Schiavello has called some of the biggest events in combat sports history. Most recently he was the voice of the 2010 K-1 World Grand Prix Final where Strikeforce heavyweight champion Alistair Overeem shattered the perception that MMA fighters can not hang with K-1 level strikers.

MMA fans have come to love and expect their HDNet televised fights to come fully equipped with Schiavello’s voice commentating the action of DREAM, Sengoku, XFC, MFC and other promotions. His enthusiasm, quick wit and trademark one-liners are at once entertaining and informative. His knowledge is immense and his excitement is contagious. He’s from Australia but he’s trotted the globe more than Meadowlark Lemon.

ProMMAnow.com (www.prommanow.com) had the pleasure of conversing with “The Voice” this week about Overeem’s clean sweep of the K-1 Grand Prix and what it was like being there live. We also asked if he thought Badr Hari’s absence from the tournament diminished Overeem’s accomplishment in any way.

We discussed some of “The Voice’s” most memorable moments during his world travels, we got him to explain his two-watches story for those who may not have heard it, and we found out if he got inside Joe Rogan’s sensory deprivation tank when he went to his house to do the Rogan podcast. Here he is, definitely one of the sport’s most interesting characters.

PRO MMA NOW: Thank you for speaking with us at ProMMAnow.com Mr. Schiavello. It looked like you had a tremendous time at the K-1 World GP 2010 this year. It was amazing to watch on TV, I can’t imagine being ringside. Can you talk a little about what the K-1 World GP 2010 Finals were like being there live and witnessing what Alistair Overeem accomplished – put this in perspective for people who may not fully grasp what Overeem accomplished – just how big of an achievement was this for an MMA champion to go in there and win the K-1 World Grand Prix?

THE VOICE: Alistair’s achievement is incredible. He is now a world champion in two different forms of combat sport, which I think anyone with a brain could work out is pretty damned impressive. Running the gauntlet of the K-1 Grand Prix is the stuff of legends and he now becomes only the eighth man in history to hold this most coveted of striking titles. The fact that Alistair fights at the highest level of MMA as Strikeforce heavyweight champion and the highest level of kickboxing as K-1 Grand Prix champion speaks volumes for the amazing athlete he is. People can say what they want about Alistair, and haters are always going to hate, but the FACT is that he is a legitimate world heavyweight champion in MMA and K-1 at the very highest level. Nobody can deny that, nobody can argue that, nobody can take that away from him. Some people don’t appreciate how difficult it is for a fighter to change levels and switch between K-1 / MMA / boxing etc. It requires an entirely different approach, a different skill set, different balance, different defense, different footwork, etc. These are other reasons why his accomplishment is so worthy of praise.

PRO MMA NOW: What did you think of the Grand Prix Finals overall?

THE VOICE: I thought it was a fantastic tournament. The storylines that unfolded combined with the level of skill and power on display was breathtaking. In particular, Daniel Ghita vs Gokhan Saki was a showcase of what a world class striking contest should be. Peter Aerts vs Semmy Schilt was a fight for the ages. The last 90 seconds of the fight was the most emphatic 90 seconds of this year and one of the most emphatic moments in K-1 history. I mean a 40-year-old veteran eliminating the raging favourite and becoming the first man to ever take Semmy Schilt out of an eight-man tournament? That is amazing.

PRO MMA NOW: Some people have said that it does not mean as much because Badr Hari was not in the tournament. How would you respond to that criticism?

Photo Credit: Tracey Lee for Combat Lifestyle

THE VOICE: That is ridiculous. I am the biggest Badr Hari fan you will find but his being absent should not diminish Alistair’s victory. You fight who is the best at the time and the best eight at that time where in that tournament. Fact. Badr was in no mental or physical state to fight, having been in jail and away from Holland for a long period of time. The eight men in the Grand Prix were all worthy of being there and were the best at that time. There will always be people looking to detract from the success of others. In Australia we call this the Tall Poppy Syndrome. As soon as you achieve something amazing, or above the usual, people want to cut you down. People will look at excuses to cut down Alistair. But as I said, fact is that Alistair genuinely qualified for the Grand Prix and genuinely fought three opponents to win the crown.

PRO MMA NOW: Have you ever thought about doing “The Voice vs. The Voice” like how Jean-Claude Van Damme had that movie where he fought himself (Double Impact)? If you could interview yourself, what would you ask?

THE VOICE: You know a few people have asked me about doing this very sort of interview but I don’t know, it seems a bit egotistical to interview yourself… and one step away from dementia! If I did interview myself, first question I’d ask is: “Why are you interviewing yourself?”… It would just be weird! Then I would be forced to slap myself with a wet fish.

PRO MMA NOW: This is a two-part question. First, how many miles have you flown in 2010? And secondly, what has been your most memorable experience this year and why?

THE VOICE: In 2010 I think I have flown about 28 times. I estimate that over the last 24 months I have flown as much as from the Earth to the Moon and back twice! As for my most memorable experience in 2010, that is hard. Having my girlfriend with me at Dynamite last New Year’s Eve (okay technically not 2010) was an amazing experience as that was the first show she ever attended and the first time she ever saw me commentate live, so that was special. Also hosting Inside MMA in San Jose with Kenny Rice before Fedor vs Werdum was a lot of fun. I think, however, most memorable were filming the four episodes of The Voice Versus.

PRO MMA NOW: How did you enjoy doing the Rogan podcast and going to Rogan’s house? What was that like and did he try to make you get in his sensory deprivation tank? Does he smell weird?

THE VOICE: It was an awesome night. I went to his house to watch some Strikeforce fights with him and we just did the podcast sort of impromptu and it ended up being an absolute riot. I didn’t get to see Joe’s sensory deprivation tank and no, he smells perfectly normal… maybe with a hint of Old Spice. After we finished watching the fights, chomping down a giant pizza and zipping through a six pack of Diet Coke, he kicked my butt in pool. He’s a shark. Lucky we didn’t play Australian rules where you have to run naked around the table if you don’t pot a ball. I would have been naked all night!

PRO MMA NOW: I know you have explained this before, but there are people who I’m sure still have not heard it. Please explain why you wear the two watches, one on each wrist — but even more importantly, how in the world did you come up with this?

THE VOICE: It’s symbolic. The watch on my left hand is set to the time I was born; the watch on my right hand is set to the present time. So it is a reminder of where I came from, where I am at and where I am heading too. It serves as a constant reminder while I’m on air as to what I have accomplished, where I have come from to accomplish that and what I still hope to accomplish.

PRO MMA NOW: It sounds like a great conversation starter like you could use at a bar with a woman and she would think you were like really deep and mysterious….Voice — is that how you got that fine lady you had on your arm at the World MMA Awards? Did you hook her in with the “two-watches theory”? (I wouldn’t blame you if you did, not one bit).

THE VOICE: Ha! That fine lady is my girlfriend, Irene. I am blessed, she is an incredible woman who I love dearly. But no, the two-watches theory wouldn’t have worked on her.

PRO MMA NOW: You have been commentating from a very young age. You have worked so many big events, including the Olympics. But in addition to commentating you also write, you’ve been an editor, you do reporting, you do “The Voice Versus” on HDNet. Which aspect of working with the media do you enjoy most and why, and what would you say to someone who would like to get into commentating or do some of the things you have done; what advice would you give them?

THE VOICE: I enjoy television the most because. It’s instant and contains aspects of various media combined into one. You have writing, you have the verbal, you have pictures, etc., all making a final on-air product. I have really enjoyed getting the chance to do The Voice Versus series in 2010 and it has been green-lit for 2011. This makes me very excited because I have been interviewing celebrities since I was 16 and started working on radio. To have the chance to showcase my unique style of interviewing to television audiences is a thrill and an honour. As for anyone looking at getting into commentating, my advice is start practising now, be passionate and always look to improve. I began fight commentating when I was 21 and had no idea how to do it, so I would watch fight videos, turn down the volume, commentate over them and then rewind and watch them back and see if I called the moves correctly. Even now I watch my work back to see how I can improve the next time. Commentating is a form of art and no work of art is ever finished, it is only ever abandoned. You can always keep improving on everything you do in life and even if you don’t have the natural talent in it, trust me when I say passion and enthusiasm go a long way. Throw your heart over the wall and the mind and body will follow.

PRO MMA NOW: You have spent a lot of time working in foreign countries all over the world, and we know sometimes things can get a little weird in certain parts of the world. Can you share with us one of the most bizarre things you have seen or been a part of over the years.

THE VOICE: I have had many crazy adventures from getting stoned with Peter Aerts in Amsterdam’s Red Light District to mistakenly ending up in Ray Sefo’s Las Vegas jacuzzi with two hookers. I’ve ran inside Karaoke lounges in Japan to escape screaming crowds, taken a swim in the Caribbean at 3 a.m. with Elizabeth Hendrickson and Odette Yustman and taken both the Minogue sisters (Dannii and Kylie) to the movies. Too many more crazy adventures to list.

PRO MMA NOW: Thanks so much for your time Mr. Schiavello. Where can the MMA fans keep up with what you have going on?

THE VOICE: Add me on twitter @SchiavelloVOICE. And thank you!

  • http://www.prommanow.com John Buhl

    If I had a dime for every hooker-laden hot tub I’ve ended up in…I’d be broke :-(

  • Alan Garcia

    Peter Aerts AND Schiavello confirmed to smoke weed. Awesome!

  • LArryHOOvEr

    i thought he meant they got stoned with rocks by an angry mob

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