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Jimmy Smith joining WWE Raw announce team

With the departure of Adnan Virk announced Tuesday, the new WWE Raw announcing team, will consist of former UFC and Bellator commentator Jimmy Smith, working with Corey Graves (Matt Polinksy) and Byron Saxton (Bryan Kelly).

Their first show together will be on Monday, May 31st. 

Smith, 43, best known for his 2010 to 2017 run with Bellator, has been working with Michael Cole and WWE staff of late to train for a possible announcing role. According to sources within the company, Cole has praised him heavily and found him to be very versatile.

It's notable that Smith will be slated to be the lead play-by-play announcer, while in those aforementioned MMA roles with Bellator and UFC, he was in the analyst role.

Smith has been on WWE broadcasts of late, debuting as part of the pre-show panel at NXT TakeOver: Stand & Deliver. Last week, he was a talking head analyst in the Karrion Kross vs. Finn Balor segment on the NXT show.

He is also the host of SiriusXM’s Unlocking the Cage (weekdays from 2-5 PM Eastern) in addition to ESPN International’s UFC Fight Camp show.

Smith was well regarded in the MMA world and placed in the Wrestling Observer Awards for best announcer in 2010, 2011, 2013 and 2014. However, this new role will be completely different from what he's done in the past.

His background includes a run as a professional MMA fighter, compiling a 5-1 record as a welterweight on smaller shows in California between 2003 and 2006, training with Tito Ortiz's Team Punishment crew. He is also a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt.

His fighting career ended when he was hired to host the television show Fight Quest in 2007 on the Discovery Channel. His first MMA announcing job came with the Russian M-1 Global promotion and he was hired by Bellator in 2010 when the promotion was airing on Fox Sports Net.  He also hosted two seasons of American Ninja Warriors and has done commentary for pro boxing.

After Bellator decided against renewing his deal, putting John McCarthy in the spot instead, Smith moved to UFC but only did a few events in 2018 and his contract wasn't renewed. He was later part of the Invicta announce team.