By TXMMA Staff // Emil Fischer
Legacy FC’s resident announcer, matchmaker, and go-to guy shares his personal story with Mixed Martial Arts
HOUSTON, TX – In the world of MMA, there are many pieces that go into making the sport special and entertaining. There are the promoters (think Dana White from the UFC, Mick Maynard of Legacy, and Scott Coker of Bellator), who are vital to an organization as its public face. There are analysts who we watch discuss the fights as they happen on the TV (ex fighters, Joe Rogan, etc) who give us an educated look at what is going on in the fray. Then there are the announcers, in many organizations these people wear many hats and give fans a direct interface between them and what is going on in that moment, an emotional burst to correlate with the electricity in the arena. At Texas based MMA promotion Legacy FC, the announcer is Collin Cantrell. TXMMA took some time to talk to Collin to get his fans some insights into the world of fight announcing, and into his own personal world.
Collin Cantrell’s history is actually as a martial artist and an MMA-fighter hopeful “I started training in shoot fighting and Japanese Jiu Jitsu in 1994. I transitioned to Brazilian JJ in 1999 under Carlos Machado. I have had the opportunity to train with some great TX MMA fighters like Brandon McDowell, Lane Yarbrough, Rocky Long and top coaches like Lewis Wood as well. I am by no means a fighter, but I am a fan who pretended to be a fighter for a short amount of time.” Lack of fighting ability has never stopped people with a passion for MMA from getting involved, very often former fighters who simply couldn’t fight anymore become analysts and announcers.
A lot of people wonder “How do guys like Bruce Buffer get that gig?” It’s a good question because announcing seems like a lot of fun, and a fantastic career to get into. “I coached a fighter at the first event that Mick ever put on. It was called the Lonestar Beatdown. I fought in the second event and got my ass kicked by Avery Bingham. (I still want that rematch even though he whipped me soundly.) Mick offered me the job as announcer after I volunteered to emcee a ring card girl contest at a bar we were at. He liked my style!” Style is everything in the announcing game, one’s mannerisms have to be pleasing and extreme, and the individuals voice can make or break their ability to announce. As far as who Collin looks up to in the announcing world “I look up to Michael Buffer. He changed the game with his slogan and Bruce is really fun to watch in person. He has a lot of energy. He also created his own slogan that has caught on pretty well.
There are many factors to Collin’s job that aren’t necessarily visible to the public “I would say that my admin skills have been very helpful to the organization. As Legacy has grown, I have tried to provide solutions to some of the problems that we encountered as a result. I have created fighter databases to help us keep up with all of the talent we have. I have also played a big role in the development of our contracts.” A good employee can and willingly does wear many hats, and Collin has proven to be an invaluable member of the Legacy FC team.
With a job like Ring announcing come many nuanced privileges and disadvantages “The best part of my job is getting to be a part of something truly special. The fighters are inspiring, my boss is awesome and being on TV is cool as well. The worst part of my job is telling a fighter that their fight has been cancelled after they put in an entire camp. I know what fighters sacrifice to do this. I want them to at least have the opportunity to compete.” Also the ability to be so close to the action is in and of itself a huge perk “One thing that I get to see is the stare down up close and personal. I see the guys’ hearts beating out of their chest, I see guys try to intimidate with a nasty mean mug, I see guys that are overly nice and I see the all business type. I really enjoy that moment because it is the calm before the storm. It is the last moment before they are let loose.”
One point of debate for a lot of educated fans is the ground game and whether or not it is good for the sport, Collin Cantrell is one of the higher level educated fans, so he was asked to weigh in on that debate “I favor standup fights over ground fights because that is what excites us all. When two guys are throwing everything at each other and not backing up then you know someone is bound to drop. I have seen the crowd change in its view of the ground game. Fans are much more educated on ground fighting now and seem to stay engaged in the fight even when it hits the ground. I have seen crowds boo at everything though. It depends on the ground fight. If you have ever watched Shinya Aoki then you know how entertaining a ground fight can be.”
On the subject of grappling, but as a separate sport, Metamoris and Polaris are a recent phenomenon of a high level submission only grappling tournaments, given Collin’s long-time background under Carlos Machado his perspectives are interesting “I think it is a great idea. I think it gives an opportunity to some legends to stay active in competition without the danger of strikes. The first great pay-per-view submission event was called The Contenders. It took place in 1997 when the UFC was getting kicked off of cable and it provided an opportunity for mma fighters to compete and make some money. It flopped horribly but I really enjoyed it. They had some gold medalist competing on it versus some BJJ and MMA legends. Frank Shamrock shocked the world when he submitted Dan Henderson with a heal hook.”
In MMA there are many promotions, but the UFC is the biggest one. Some people have mused about what it may take for another promotion to overtake the UFC; Collin doesn’t think it’ll happen “The UFC is the top for many reasons. The biggest reason is they were the first. They took all the risks. Another reason is Dana White. His decisions have absolutely crafted this into a mainstream sport. No one will take over the UFC. I would compare it to Canadian football trying to take over the NFL.”
Moving forward, Collin has good but cryptic news for fight fans: “I have some big matchups that I am pumped about but I can’t tell you what they are.” TXMMA always gives people being interviewed a chance to give a shout out/thank you to anyone they feel needs their name honored “Really just to my bosses Mick and Andrea Maynard. They have made this thing from the ground up. They are a part of my family at this point. I also want to thank all of the fighters, and I do mean all of them. Anyone who has ever stepped in the cage and put it on the line has my upmost respect. Thank you and TXMMA for always keeping the Texas MMA scene alive.”