Michael Schiavello: Respect, Integrity Lacking in Western MMA Promotions

By Jason Burgos May 1, 2019

One Championship play-by-play announcer Michael Schiavello can outline the differences between his organization and many of its contemporaries. In his estimation, respect and integrity are often lacking in the marketing of many western MMA promotions, including the Ultimate Fighting Championship. “The Voice” believes pay-per-view business models in combat sports are built around emotions like disdain and disrespect.

“The name calling, the crazy stunts, throwing things through windows [and] at each other, threatening each other on Twitter,” Schiavello told Sherdog.com. “That’s how you sell PPVs to a largely western audience, which is sad. Are a lot of the UFC guys fighters or martial artists? There’s a difference between the two. That’s not how true martial artists act. That’s how fighters act.”

Schiavello likes the idea that One Championship does not utilize a pay-per-view model and can center its marketing round traditional martial arts values. He believes it was one of the lures for former UFC flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson, who made his organizational debut on March 31.

“Speaking to Demetrious Johnson,” Schiavello said, “something he found very refreshing in his One Championship experience so far is that now he can portray those qualities he’s always wanted to as a martial artist.”

Schiavello also bemoaned the continued use of performance-enhancing drugs in MMA. Former UFC bantamweight champion T.J. Dillashaw recently brought the issue back to the forefront when he was suspended for two years after testing positive for EPO.

“These are guys people look up to, people put on a pedestal. We pay money to watch [them], and then to have the disappointment of someone testing positive for PEDs is just deflating as a fan,” Schiavello said. “Of course, it hurts the sport. It hurts any sport. It’s not just MMA. Drugs are rampant in a lot of sports. There’s a lot of drug and PED taking that we don’t hear about, or isn’t reported, or isn’t event tested for, but you know it’s happening in so many sports.”

Despite PED-related setbacks, Schiavello feels the sport may be as strong now as it has ever been. He points to the UFC, One Championship, Bellator MMA, the Professional Fighters League, Rizin Fighting Federation and Combate Americas staging high-level fight cards all over the world.

“I think we are probably experiencing … I don’t know if you would call it a golden era, [but] it’s getting there,” Schiavello said. “We’re experiencing more mixed martial arts now, worldwide, than we ever have before. Call it whatever era you want. Maybe we’re experiencing the global era of MMA for the first time ever.”


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