In December of 2008, I had decided to switch satellite providers and when I did, I happened across a station called HDNet. Just prior to Christmas I discovered a show hosted by Kenny Rice and MMA Legend Bas Rutten called, Inside MMA. I was still teaching at the time and off for winter break but nothing made me more excited than to find a station with an hour long MMA news program that took the sport seriously.
On that broadcast they made an announcement that HDNet would be airing an 8-hour New Year’s Eve extravaganza from Japan featuring MMA, Kickboxing and even Professional Wrestling! I was set, I had my first DVR queued up to record an extra hour, just in case. I knew I wouldn’t be able to to stay up until 4 a.m. watching the full broadcast, so I watch in sections for the next few days. When I tuned in, there was a familiar face in now UFC Hall of Famer Frank Trigg, but his broadcast partner was the one that stood out and that man was Italian-Australian, Michael Schiavello.
Schiavello is nicknamed, “The Voice,” and with good reason! The man remained energetic for all 8-hours, never once having his voice go horse and never missed a step in calling the action. I thought, “Wow, that guy is amazing. You can tell he really loves combat sports.”
My friend Gary (who I later became the best man at his wedding) was over at my place when I decided to watch the show and the most memorable ring entrance of the night was an Otaku kickboxer named Youichirou Jienotsu Nagashima. This guy had some gorgeous girls dance and disrobe him from Hatsune Miku cosplay. Now, I honestly don’t recall if Nagashima won that fight, but I do remember Schiavello not once judging the Japanese fighter on his chosen cosplay but rather relishing in his individualism and being enthusiastic about by the fighter’s showmanship before even stepping one foot into the ring.
Fastforward to 2012, FanboyNation has barely been around for 6 months and I make a public announcement that we will start covering MMA. Everyone thought I was insane in doing so, but the same week I made the announcement, IDW Publishing release the depression era comic strip character Joe Palooka in a six-issue mini-series where he is now an MMA fighter instead of a boxer. I felt vindicated and start making my MMA connections. It wasn’t until 2014 however, that I covered my first fight aired on AXS TV, the station that was previously HDNet.
It was at Lion Fight Muay Thai that I first met Michael Schiavello and his now co-host, UFC Hall of Famer Pat Miletich. I saw Schiavello first and without fanboying out, introduced myself and he replied, “It’s good to meet you.” It’s always a nice feeling when someone is genuinely polite instead of just brushing you off with an insincere, Hollywood Hello.
What I didn’t know was that would be the first of many fights I would be seated behind Schaivello and Miletich for the next three years. What went from general pleasantries to more formal greetings eventually evolved into a professional friendship and for that I am most thankful.
Michael didn’t have to be nice to me that day in Temecula, CA. He didn’t have to continue to greet me, learn my name or even become my friend, but there is a genuine warmth behind, “The Voice.” The man doesn’t big league anyone and is the most courteous person you will ever meet in the fight game. Whether it is a key grip, a fan or another journalist, Michael Schiavello has always treated everyone with the utmost respect.
There have been many a Friday night or Saturday morning watching a live broadcast/recording on AXS TV where I’d hear Michael scream his signature catchphrases, “It’s the Big Kabosh!” or “Goodnight Irene!” Frankly, I never asked if the catchphrase came before the wife as Mrs. Schiavello is named Irene, but it would be an interesting coincidence if that were the case.
Honestly, I have canceled plans on Friday nights to stay home and watch AXS TV Fights just to hear my friend call a fight. Michael has never shied away from calling out bad referees or bad judges, which has made fans, myself included, respect him even more. Lord knows how many times he’s chewed out Steve Mazzagatti on air for bad calls at Lion Fight.
On Friday, June 2, 2017, Michael Schiavello called his final fight for AXS TV, an 8-year run was celebrated with AXS TV
Fights President, Andrew Simon, Pat Miletich and announce partner Ron Kruck presenting him with a, “Thank You Michael” octagon cake. It was bitter-sweet to know that we would all get to hear our friend call an amazing night of Legacy Fighting Alliance (LFA) fights, but also to say our goodbyes afterword.
Schiavello didn’t disappoint as he gave us a last memorable one-liner when Jordan Powell was knocked out via a head kick delivered by Dominick Reyes. Michael screamed, “He’s stiffer than a honeymooner’s dick!” I couldn’t hear him during the live broadcast but the guys in the truck told me there was a long pause before they erupted in laughter. When I went back this morning to watch the fight, his timing was so perfect that I had the same reaction even when knowing it was coming.
To my friend of three years, who I remain a fan of after eight years, I want to thank you for allowing me the honor of being able to be present in covering LFA 13 but also to have me spend the rest of the evening enjoying farewell drinks with you and the AXS TV crew.
We expect to see pictures of baby Lewis once he arrives and I will be seeing you in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia in the near future. Goodnight Michael, you deserve a restful trip as you return home, because that’s when the real work begins.