Friday night’s Bellator 255 card is headlined by a marquee fight that pits Patricio “Pitbull” Freire against Emmanuel Sánchez.
Freire is a double champion, with the Bellator lightweight championship and the featherweight championship, and the winner of his fight against Sanchez will face AJ McKee in the final of the Bellator Featherweight World Grand Prix. In addition to the high-stakes fight, the undercard also marks Bellator’s Showtime debut, and is honored to be called up by the top play-for-play man in the business, Mauro Ranallo.
“If you just got to Bellator now, you picked the right time,” says Ranallo. “Bellator is setting a higher standard on every card. And that fits perfectly with Showtime, which tells some of the most compelling stories, and these fighters are telling the stories of their lives. Everyone wants to know the truth behind those stories, and you will find out when you watch Bellator MMA on Showtime. “
There are a myriad of reasons to watch Bellator, with Ranallo prominent among them. His keen insight and ability to capture the action that is happening is unmatched, which was on display when he called the Mike Tyson-Roy Jones Jr. fight in November. Tyson’s return to boxing was certainly remarkable, but a prominent part of the event occurred when the legendary Snoop Dogg joined Ranallo in the broadcast booth.
“That was a fever dream come true for me,” says Ranallo. “The only thing that spoiled the evening for me was that I had to replace Hall of Fame announcer Al Bernstein, the man who was supposed to do it, and I agreed to fill it out just 48 hours in advance. It turned out to be a marriage of everything I’m a part of, including the calling of the fights with Israel Adesanya; I called his fight Glory Kickboxing in Turkey in 2014. The whole night was amazing. He put the real in surreal. “
Ranallo is calling the Bellator cards at a two-man booth with veteran referee “Big” John McCarthy, and he’s eager for the wrestling world to see some of MMA’s emerging talent, as well as the biggest star of promotion, on such a massive platform. .
“Bellator 255 has Patricio Pitbull, who is the most dominant and decorated champion in Bellator history, currently the only champion-champion, and the second simultaneous division of two in Bellator history,” says Ranallo. “He is racing with Emmanuel Sánchez, a homegrown talent who pushed Pitbull to the limit in 2018 in Israel when they completed all five rounds. Now, with a potential million dollars at stake for the winner of the tournament, Sánchez seeks to demonstrate why he is the future of sport. “
Bellator had long been defined by the brilliance of Michael Chandler, who recently left the promotion and made his surprising debut for the UFC. Chandler’s last loss in MMA came in May 2019 when he dropped the Bellator lightweight championship to Freire.
“Michael Chandler was the standard bearer for Bellator, but one of his last impressions at Bellator was being knocked out in 61 seconds by Patricio Pitbull,” says Ranallo. “So look at the UFC debut he made, that speaks to what a typical night in this sport is like.
“The UFC has most of the best fighters on the planet, sure, but they don’t have all the best fighters on the planet.”
Bellator has a chance to show that depth the next two Friday nights, airing the Bellator version of the Elite Eight with the Light Heavyweight Grand Prix on April 9 and 16 on Showtime. And with the cards airing three consecutive Fridays, viewers will also have the opportunity to reconnect with Ranallo.
Until last summer, it had been a weekly fixture calling pro wrestling for NXT on Wednesday nights. Since mutually agreeing to part ways with WWE last August, the NXT The broadcast has lost a considerable amount of luster, not surprising given the value that Ranallo brought to each call with his enthusiasm, passion and knowledge. Ranallo still keeps a watchful eye on the professional wrestling sector, and was delighted to see Kota Ibushi finally claim the IWGP heavyweight championship at New Japan Pro-Wrestling.
“Kota Ibushi represents everything I love about professional wrestling,” says Ranallo. “He is responsible for many of my favorite moments as a professional wrestling announcer, especially when I was able to call New Japan Pro-Wrestling on AXS. One of the highlights of my time in WWE was during the Cruiserweight Classic. Daniel Bryan was my broadcast partner, and we were able to summon Kota Ibushi matches, as well as a galaxy of stars who were biding their time, and we even saw a spark of one of the greatest rivalries in WWE history in that. tournament between Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa.
“Ibushi is someone with such a work ethic and creativity and a commitment to the art form. That he finally makes it to the top, I’m not surprised. It was just a matter of time and circumstances. “
As viewers miss hearing Ranallo in wrestling, his voice is still heard championing the cause of mental health advocacy. Ranallo has been open and honest about his own struggles with mental health, and some of his greatest contributions to the world are the way he has spoken out for those who need a voice.
“In order to share my story, it allows me to add one more voice to those who have no voice,” says Ranallo. “Especially in the fighting game, with the apex predators, these are alpha males and alpha females, but they are also human beings. We need to start taking better care of each other, even during a global pandemic. It’s not just about being physically healthy, it’s about learning to maintain a healthy relationship with the most important tool you have, and that is your brain.
“We have so many people raising their voices to advocate for mental health, the conversation is getting louder. There are too many people who commit suicide and that does not sit well with me. “
With the ability to advance knowledge and promote understanding, as well as summon a fight with rare skill and flair, Ranallo hopes to put on his headphones for the next three Friday nights on Showtime.
“People will see the fighters solidify their legacies inside the Bellator cage,” says Ranallo. “Friday nights on Showtime are going to be very entertaining, and this will be one after another.”
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.