Catching Up with The Voice: An Interview With Michael Schiavello

Michael Schiavello Catching Up with The Voice: An Interview With Michael Schiavello

One of the most animated and most recognizable commentators in combat sports is Michael “The Voice” Schiavello. From MMA to K-1 to Boxing, The Voice has been there and done it all. He’s traveled all over the world to sit cage/ring side to do commentary for some of the biggest events in the industry. Once again he has taken some time to sit down and answer some questions for us here at MMA Valor.

Q: I’ve heard that you don’t like being called “Mike”, but prefer Michael. Is that just an Aussie quirk or is there a specific reason as to why?

It’s not an Aussie quirk it’s just a personal thing. I’ve never been a big one for abbreviations of names. I like Michael, not Mike and especially not Mick. A lot of people call me Mike. It’s just lazy. The name is Michael! God I’m having visions of that scene in the barber shop from Coming to America, except with me it would be some old black guy saying: “His momma named him Michael, I’m gonna call him Michael.”

Q: You’re better known in the combat sports world as “The Voice”. Can you explain to us where that came from?

The origins of this nickname originally lie with Australian sports commentator Andy Raymond from Fox Sports. Sometime in the late 1990’s Andy dubbed me “The Voice Behind The Violence” on Fox Sports. After that, it just got shortened down to “The Voice”. I like the nickname; it’s catchy and easy to remember, even if I don’t think I’ve got that good of a voice!

Q: You probably have one of the most recognizable, energetic voices of any commentator. When you are getting ready to do a show, do you think about any of the “Schiavelloisms” that you spout off or are they all off the top of the head in the heat of the moment?

Sure I think about them but I don’t sit there and conjure up one-liners. I may be sitting on a plane or on the toilet or lying in bed or just walking around and a funny one-liner pops into my head. When that happens I will be like, “Oh! That’s funny!” and sort of lock it in my brain. Most of it is just off the top of my head. Spontaneity is exciting and funny. Some people say that I sit there and script up my one-liners. Well that is just stupid. Nothing is scripted in my commentaries. I never ever use a teleprompter or cue cards like other commentary teams do. It’s all written in here (taps head).

Q: Your “Voice Versus” segments have gained a lot of popularity over the years. Who has been your favorite episode thus far? Who is at the top of the list of people you’d like to work with?

It’s hard to answer as to which has been the best because every episode has been great in its own way. Obviously doing Joe Rogan as my first guest was exciting but then again that was never meant to be what it became. Truth be told, I was just interviewing Joe for a small piece on Inside MMA as he had never been on HDNET before. Well 75 minutes into the interview, we were still chatting! So at the end of it all I emailed my execs at HDNET and said, listen, this interview is too good to cut down for Inside MMA or the internet. Give me a full hour show and let’s call it something like “The Voice Versus Joe Rogan” as that will capture attention. When the show aired and rated really well, the powers that be at HDNET turned around and green lit The Voice Versus series. Once again they have all been great guests. The next one with Wanderlei Silva, which premieres on March 25 at 8pm ET, is great. Wanderlei was an amazing guest and we do some very fun and original stuff. You cannot miss it!

As for others I’d like to do Voice Versus with, I’d like GSP, Gina Carano, Bones Jones, Rampage, Dana White, the Diaz brothers.

Q: How often do you get recognized and approached when you’re out on the town? What’s the craziest request you’ve ever gotten from a fan?

I get recognized here and there, especially at or around fight shows. It is part and parcel of the job and whenever someone comes up to me, I always make sure I shake their hand, ask their name and take a moment for a photo or an autograph or just a short chat. I feel so privileged when someone asks me for a photo. I know that for that small moment in their life, I can make a difference. No matter how shitty their day was or how shitty their life is outside of that moment, in that moment I’m doing something to make them happy.

I have had a few crazy fans but nothing too bad. The strangest thing is when I have my girlfriend with me and her getting used to people coming up to me. At UFC in Sydney last year we were at the food stand and a whole heap of fans came up asking me for a pic. They all asked my girlfriend to be the photographer but she has the most unsteady hands ever! These poor fans went away with these shaky, blurred photos, so I have officially sacked my girlfriend as the photographer on these occasions. Another funny one once in the CBD in Melbourne, Irene and I had been out to dinner and we were sharing a kiss on the curb when two fans started saying like, “Oh The Voice! It’s the Voice! Oh man can we get a picture.” That was a little awkward mid-kiss.

I also remember once in Las Vegas at K-1 when I had some mates from home with me. This fan came up to me after the show and asked me for a photo. My mate took a snap and this fan looked at his camera, his eyes were all glassy, and he was like that dude in Coming to America, the fan after Eddie Murphy takes a photo with him: “Oh thank you your majesty! Thank you! I shall cherish this moment for the rest of my life.” haha

Q: Last week, it was announced that Zuffa purchased Strikeforce. What are your thoughts on that? Do you think it is a good thing or a bad thing?

I think Zuffa purchasing Strikeforce is a good thing. They will have nice looking babies.

Q: Being one of the well-traveled commentators, you work with all kinds of promotions around the world. What has been the most memorable event that you’ve worked?

The Olympic Games in Beijing. I commentated all the boxing, which was 272 fights in 10 days. It was crazy, tiring but also one big adrenalin rush. I absolutely loved it!

Q: If you were given the opportunity to work with any other commentator, who would you team up with?

It would have to be Joe Rogan. I think Joe and I would make gold and make your face melt from the awesomeness. People recently got to hear Bas Rutten and I for the first time on the Strikeforce prelims in Jersey and that rocked their socks off. Imagine me and Rogan commentating together? Craziness.

Q: Do you remember the moment when you thought “I want to do that for a living”? Can you think back to the first event that you commentated?

I still have the video of my first commentary. It was the 1991 APS Athletic Championships at Melbourne’s Olympic Park and I was just 16. I knew there and then I had a talent for it but didn’t know that it would become what it has. I don’t think there was one moment though when I knew I would commentate for a living. It was more of just a gradual thing I worked hard to get to where I am now.

Q: In one of your blogs, you talk about the origin of “Goodnight Irene”. Where did your other prominent saying, “The Big Kabosh” come from?

At the turn of the century I was searching for a way to describe the knockout effect of a Mark Hunt punch. This is when he was just raping people with left hooks and right hands, knocking out the likes of Hiromi Amada, Peter Graham and Andrew Peck. I used to watch those old Batman TV shows when I was young and every time Batman would hit the bad guys they would put up these bubbles with words like “POW!” and “BAM!” and “WHACK!”. Well I thought a good one to have would be “KABOSH!” because that is the sound it kind of made when Mark Hunt would knock out an opponent. That’s how that started.

Q: My final question for you is if you hadn’t gotten involved in commentary and combat sports, what do you think you’d be doing right now instead?

Good question. I think life always has you where you’re supposed to be. You are meant to be here. The choices in your life have lead you to be right here. So no matter what I would have ended up here. This is me. This is who I am. This is what I do. I honestly cannot envisage doing anything else.

Feel free to make any shout outs you may have

FOLLOW ME ON TWITTER @SchiavelloVOICE. WATCH The Voice vs. Wanderlei Silva Premiere March 25 8pm ET on HDNET

Thanks, Michael. I appreciate your time and look forward to hearing your work in the near future.


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One Response to Catching Up with The Voice: An Interview With Michael Schiavello

  1. [...] MMA Valor Article of the Week: Interview with Michael Schiavello [...]

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