Five in Five with Mike 'The Voice' Schiavello
After a long and illustrious career in the states, Mike ‘The Voice’ Schiavello returned home to Australia recently to take up a contract with Asia-Pacific’s fastest growing mixed martial arts event; One Championship.
The voice has shared a table with some of combat sport’s biggest names including Bas Rutten, Alistair Overeem, Dana White, Wanderlei Silva, Fedor Emelianenko, Royce Gracie, and Sugar Ray Leonard. Known for his explosive commentary, from the moment Schiavello’s signature timbre pours through the speakers it’s hard to shake the grin from a fight fans face.
From the early New Zealand days of K1, King of the Cage, Contender Asia and now the rapidly rising One, Mike Schiavello has long been “the voice” of combat sports on this side of the globe. NZ Fighter recently got the chance to turn the mic on the man himself for our rapid-fire question series, Five in Five.
1. What were the big draw-cards that brought you back home?
First and foremost was family. I was on the last year of my contract with AXS TV in the States, and my wife became pregnant with our second son. I got the offer from ONE Championship and the timing seemed perfect to say goodbye to the USA and go back to Australia to raise my family. I was feeling that I'd hit my head on the proverbial ceiling with AXS TV. They were doing great shows on a regional level but I was ready for bigger challenges, and ONE Championship certainly has provided that challenge. I do miss many aspects of living in Las Vegas and the great friends I made in the US, and I miss working alongside my verbal sparring partner Pat Miletich. But I am enjoying life with One Championship tremendously,
2. You and Mitch Chilson seem to have great chemistry - what’s it like working with the dragon?
Mitch is fantastic. We got on really well from the moment we met. He's very easy going and has a real, true passion for the martial arts and the fight game. Our chemistry has been pretty good from day one but every show we're getting better and better, and incorporating new stuff into our product each time. I want to give fans the very best sports broadcasting experience they can have, and do things in the commentary posish that haven't been done before, and with Mitch I feel I can really build that. He has a terrific voice and this contagious passion that comes through your TV set, and as a former fighter who has trained in various martial arts styles around the world, he brings a plethora of knowledge. Along with my enthusiasm, I think we make a great team.
3. Kiwi fight fans will remember your voice from the early days of K1 broadcast, how do you think New Zealand fighters have evolved since then and how do you think we’re stacking up to the global competition today?
I think New Zealand fighters have always stacked up to the global competition, not just today. I mean you go back in time to the old school kickboxing days and guys like Ray Sefo and all the team at Lolo's gym were among the very best in the world. Then of course MMA began to bloom and you had guys like Mark Hunt, and now Israel Adesanya and Dan Hooker showing the world what the Kiwi's can do. Even in boxing, too, New Zealand has always had world class guys, from Bob Fitzsimmons waaaay back who won titles in three weight divisions to David Tua and Joseph Parker. New Zealand has one of the richest combat sport heritages of any country, and I am glad to see it is continuing on the biggest stages with the likes of Israel and Dan and Joseph. I always loved commentating in New Zealand because the audience there is so educated. They know their boxing, their kickboxing, and now their MMA. They watched in big numbers on TV, in the days when our K-1 broadcasts would out-rate the rugby on TVNZ.
4. You’re a one-liner machine Mike, “The Big Kibosh”… “knows how to knock people the firetruck out” and how could we forget “could beat the sun in a staring contest” - mate where do you come up with these?
Most of them just pop into my head. I don't know where they come from. I think the Great Architect just puts them in there! Others are pre-planned. Sometimes I will be flying or in my hotel room and a great line will pop into my head and I will jot it down to use when the time is right.
5. One Championship seems to be putting Oceania and Asia back on the map, however as (One Championship CEO) Chatri Sidyodtong states, is this just a case of showing the world how good we are down under?
We were never off the map. One Championship is just showing the rest of the world how the other half does things -- and does them right! Asia is the traditional home of martial arts. All the stuff you see in the West wouldn't be happening if it hadn't started in the East. The approach to martial arts and the ideology of One Championship is so good, I really love it and embrace it. The way One treats its athletes, the way it promotes them and promotes the sport, the art, the aesthetics -- they're doing it the way it should be done, with honour and respect and integrity. They embrace the goodness of martial arts as a way of life, not a way of violence. They build a platform for respect. They are showing that you don't need to be smashing bus windows and throwing cans of drink at people to build an audience for martial arts. So yeah, we have always been on the map, but One Championship is making the map more readily available to everyone, and their cartography is sublime!