“Can he get it? Can he get it? It’s good night Irene. Hold on, wait a minute! Let me put some DJ in it, locks out moisture seals in freshness! Goodnight Irene.” Michael Schiavello’s famous exclamation is well-known in combat sports circles, and it seems he has made a name for himself amongst announcing’s greatest. That call of Demetrious Johnson’s finish and ensuing is one to be remembered, as it is hard to recall a moment called with that much energy and style.
As Mixed Martial Arts continues to grow in the consciousness of the public, the importance of a strong broadcast team becomes ever more important and a valuable tool keeping fans locked in during events.
The art of color commentary has been immensely difficult to get right. Many have tried and failed, as there is seemingly no formula for success.
As it requires knowledge of all facets of the sport, personality, likeability, and an ability to be comfortable speaking on screen, it is one of the most highly skilled positions in a promotion. It is a hugely important role in Mixed Martial Arts broadcasting and one that will and must continue to grow in order to keep up with the demands of the sport.
So what is it that makes ONE Championship commentator Michael Schiavello such a success and a much-loved voice of combat sports? His journey tells the story of his golden voice.
The Michael Schiavello Effect
The 46-year-old from Melbourne, Australia is blessed with a plethora of charisma and experience, and this goes back years. Schiavello got his first taste of commentating on track and field back in Australia as a 16-year-old and never looked back.
The likeability of Schiavello gave him a knack for scoring huge interviews in the sporting world, which landed Schiavello a radio sports show on Southern FM where he was called “Mr. Scoop”. The list of famous guests included Football legends Pele and Diego Maradona, as well as Tennis and cricket stars Goran Ivanisevic and Richie Richardson, among many others.
Michael Schiavello is currently the beloved voice of ONE Championship the place he currently calls home after building years of experience for worldwide promotions including K-1, Dream, Sengoku, and the Contender Asia. Schiavello commentated on fellow Australian and Muay Thai legend John Wayne Parr, having covered an incredible 34 of his career fights, AXS TV Fights (formerly HDNet), MFC, Invicta Fighting Championships, XFC, Adrenaline, Evolution, XPlosion, King of the Cage, BAMMA, and Legacy Fighting Championship.
Schiavello has become famous among MMA fans for his knack for coming up with incredibly passionate responses to fight finishes, as he tends to wear his heart on his sleeve and exclaim his surprise at a moment’s notice.
Many have wondered where his catchphrase “Goodnight, Irene!” came from, and Schiavello attributes it to his favorite wrestler, “Adorable” Adrian Adonis’ sleeper hold, known as the “Goodnight Irene”. His broadcasting idol, “Gorilla Monsoon”, injected his own flair into the term, often exclaiming it after Adonis would secure a win via his sleeper hold.
Interestingly enough, the phrase originated from a 1933 blues song of the same name by “Leadbelly” Leadbetter, and it moved its way into popular culture through a cover by the Weavers, which landed it a #1 spot on the Billboard charts and an entry in the household lexicon. References to an uppercut right as a ‘Goodnight Irene Punch’ in a Lil’ Abner comic cemented the public connection with a knockout. After many years, Schiavello perfected it, turning it into the exclamation beloved by fans everywhere.
The Voice Versus
In 2010, HDNet released The Voice Versus series in which the host Michael Schiavello interviewed various combat sports personalities. The show was a one-hour sit-down interview show with some of the biggest names in sports and entertainment. Combat sports legends that sat down with Schiavello include UFC President Dana White, Stone Cold Steve Austin, Frank Dux, George Foreman, Badr Hari, Hulk Hogan, Sugar Ray Leonard, Jason “Mayhem” Miller, Tito Ortiz, Alistair Overeem, Joe Rogan, Steven Seagal, Wanderlei Silva, Michael Jai White, Fedor Emelianenko, Bas Rutten, and Royce Gracie.
The series became a huge hit amongst fans where Schiavello was able to share in-depth informative interviews with some of the most respected and valued stars of their respective industries. The show also built off of Schiavello’s personality, as his easygoing demeanor often provided a contrast from some of the hardened combat sports personalities.
His show became extremely popular, and Schiavello’s already blossoming career morphed into one of the most well-known in all of combat sports.
“The Voice” Turns to the Page
Schiavello has also put his years of experience on paper with his two recent releases “Good Night Irene: How a Bullied Fat Kid from Melbourne Became a Global Broadcasting Star” and “The Commentators: 100 Years of Sports Commentary”. Schiavello delves deep into his incredible career to date and details some of the other interesting names he has rubbed shoulders with and been inspired by. These titles are very well-written and they give a look inside the mind of one of the greatest voices in combat sports.
In what has been an incredible journey, Schiavello has commentated on over 4,000 fights in more than 15 countries as well as huge sporting events such as the 2006 Commonwealth Games and the 2008 Olympic Games. Long before he calls it “Goodnight Irene” on his career, Michael Schiavello is truly one of the greatest men to have ever donned a headset and picked up a mic.
Image Credits: ONE Championship PR