The Daily Sport have gone ‘Hollywood’ with UCMMA’s Bret Freeman

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(photo: Bret Freeman | Credit: Hels Bels photography)

The Daily Sport have gone ‘Hollywood’ on you today, bringing you an interview with Bret Freeman.  Bret is the MC at all the UCMMA shows.  So we caught up with him to find out more about how it all started and what he is looking forward to on UCMMA 37.

How did you get into being an MC in the beginning?

I moved to the UK about seven years ago when I married my British wife Julia.  Moving country is a big deal in that once I got here, I didn’t have any friends.  Having always been active in some form of Martial Arts I saw a sign for Unity Martial Arts one day, looked them up and saw they had a BJJ class.  I called and spoke to the instructor who happened to be Ze Marcello.  Before I knew it, I went to check it out and the day I got there they were in the middle of a MMA class with the likes of Denniston Sutherland, David Lee, Przemyslaw ‘Misiek’ Mysiala and a few others.  I got talking to Denniston about my wrestling background and he invited me to a sparring session.  My first ever MMA session was more like a school yard beating.  It was awesome!  I learned the hard way why you should always keep your hands up.  I then got an invitation to MC a show for a friend and from there I was getting calls from all over and have never looked back.

 

‘It’s Go Time’ is your signature call, where did it come from?

Catch Phrases are tricky!  You want something that is catchy and can get the crowd going, and at the same time something that lends itself to good pronunciation.   Michael Buffer’s “Let’s Get Ready To Rumble” for instance is great because you can roll the first L and the last L LLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLets get ready to RumbLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL.  See, it works!  “IIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIITS GO TIME!” I think works too!  If I said “It’s GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO Time,” it doesn’t have the same effect.    The phrase itself came one day when I was in the car with my wife. I was playing around with all sorts of phrases and trying to make her laugh (she will tell you that calling fights and raising my profile are all I ever think about).  I said it and thought “wait, that’s not bad.”  I played around with pronunciation and then tried it out on a couple of shows I had over the next couple of weekends.  It got the crowd going and worked really well.  I did a bit of research into trademark law, called my solicitor and that was that.  I now own the trademark to “Its Go Time” in the UK and US. Now, when I am greeted by a fan out side of an event, nothing gives me greater pleasure than when they say to me “Hey Hollywood,  “Its Go Time”!”

 

You are the regular MC on UCMMA, what do you like about working on the show?

In my opinion, UCMMA is by far the best show in the country!  Dave O’ Donnell has been in the MMA game since the beginning and has really set the standard for all other shows.  In addition to putting on great fights, the other thing that UCMMA absolutely gets right is that it is all about putting on a show for the fans. The Japanese have a term ‘Matsuri’, this describes a festival and in the days of Pride (A large Japanese MMA organization) it was all about the Matsuri!  The fighters were like super heroes and the fans were treated to a real celebration on the night of an event.  UCMMA is one of the few events in the world that carries on this tradition.  The celebration at UCMMA on any given night is second to none!  In fact, my wife doesn’t come to a lot of other shows with me, but she never misses UCMMA because she always has such a great time.  Dave and the rest of the crew are brilliant at what they do!

 

Some of the fighters you call friends, does it make it hard to introduce them with the same amount of passion as a fighter you perhaps don’t know as well? And is it hard to announce the result if your friend has lost?

That’s a great question!  I try really hard not to show any bias when I am announcing.  Every single fighter deserves the best I have to give when introducing them to the crowd so I try to deliver each intro the way I would want to be introduced if it was me getting ready to fight.  I have more respect for MMA fighters than any other athletes in the world.  I know what it takes for these guys to train and get ready for a fight, and I know what it’s like to step into the cage on the night in front of 2000 fans when it’s just you and another fighter in the cage. There’s nowhere to hide, it all comes down to the next 15 minutes and how deep you are willing to dig!  Brave doesn’t even begin to cover it!  The least I can do is to try to set the stage with the crowd and give each and every fighter, close friend or not the best intro I can deliver.

Looking at UCMMA 37 what fight are you most looking forward to introducing and indeed watching?

That’s a tough one!  The UCMMA 37 fight card is stacked top to bottom as usual.  I look forward to announcing each and every one!  If I had to pick one to watch though I would probably say Sines Vs Navarro.  This is a UK1 fight (So stand up with MMA gloves) which is also unique to UCMMA.  UK1 fights are real crowd pleasers because they are so exciting!  They are fast paced and action packed for sure.   Luke Sines is a master when it comes to UK1.  His striking is on a different level!  Navarro on the other hand is a tough customer who knows how to put a strategy together.  This one will be interesting for sure!

 

You have stepped up into the cage before; can we expect to see you do this again?

Ha ha I wish I were a younger man!  I headlined the first White Collar event that UCMMA did.  It was a great experience and gave me a new perspective on how the fighters feel when they walk the ramp at UCMMA.  I absolutely loved it!  We raised a lot of money for charity as well which was an added bonus.  On the down side, it took a lot longer to heal than it used to when I was competing regularly when I was younger.  I am 47 years old this year.  The only Freeman I know that is tough enough to keep on fighting at my age is Ian!

 

Have you ever made a mistake when announcing, if so what happened?

Early in my career I did make a few slip-ups.  Mostly with name pronunciations and things like that.  I did work one promotion where they changed the fight order and didn’t tell me so when it was time to introduce the first fight I called the wrong fighter out first.  That was a bit embarrassing!  I guess you learn from things like this so now, what a lot of people don’t realize is that in the run up to an event I do a lot of checking and double checking.  I usually turn up several hours before the first fight and am very detailed about my prep.  I try to talk to each fighter before hand to get the right info.  The information I announce on the night includes their name, record, weight, height team and location at the very minimum.   I need to verify that this is correct both with the fighter and then with the production crew to ensure the visuals on the big screen behind me match.  I work with the production crew to ensure I am on cue and the camera spots and lighting are what they should be.  We always have a rehearsal or two before the show begins (The only guy who is more particular than me about preparation is Dave O’ Donnell) Then at the end of a fight I confer with the judges and referee to ensure the result I deliver is correct.

 

What are the highs and lows of your role at UCMMA?

There really aren’t any lows at UCMMA…except maybe the fact that there isn’t a show every weekend lol!  I absolutely love working with the team there!  As I have already said, Dave O’ Donnell is amazing!  He makes it easy to get ready for the show, his energy is contagious!  Harry Shoebridge makes everything run smooth on the night and takes good care of the rest of us; CJ is brilliant at what she does and adds a little something extra to the presentation.  The refs are the best in the country and behind the scenes Mel O’ Donnell keeps us all on our toes.

 

How far do you think you’ve come since you started out?

Well, that’s a hard question.  I try to excel at everything I do.  In my opinion, UCMMA is the top show in the UK so I guess I am at the top of the game in this country.  I have had some great opportunities in the MMA scene and have been fortunate enough to announce fights all over the world.  Last year I had my own weekly MMA talk show on Sports Tonight Live (Also thanks to Dave O’ Donnell) and have really just been living the dream!

 

What would be your dream fight to introduce on UCMMA?

WOW!  I have already been fortunate enough to announce so many great fighters!  UCMMA has put more guys in the UFC than any other promotion in the country!  I have had the privilege of announcing guys like Dave Lee, Brad Pickett, John Maguire, Neil Grove, Jimi Manuwa Paul Kelly, Dean Amasinger and the list goes on!  One thing is for sure, as long as I am announcing at UCMMA there will be a steady stream of up and comers who will find there way into the UFC.

Thanks to Suzy Athey for the interview.

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