Chat with Brett Okamoto
Welcome to SportsNation! On Wednesday, ESPN.com mixed martial arts writer Brett Okamoto stops by to chat about the news from the octagon.
Okamoto joined ESPN.com in December 2010. Previously, he was the boxing/MMA writer for the Las Vegas Sun newspaper and has also worked with Sports Illustrated magazine and CNN.com.
Send your questions now and join Okamoto Wednesday at 1 p.m. ET!
Brett Okamoto (1:01 PM)
Happy Wednesday fight fans. Thanks for joining me. I'm come to you today from the food court inside the Palms hotel. Right after our chat, I'm talking to Michael Bisping, so if you have anything you're dying to know about the guy, shoot me a tweet @bokamotoESPN and I'll ask him.
Mathew long beach [via mobile]
My buddy n I , are making an early bet, I got porier n hes got koch, I think porier will smash koch, whats ur early pick?
Brett Okamoto (1:03 PM)
Sorry Matt, my early pick is Erik Koch all the way. When the fight gets closer I'll go back and watch all their previous fights, but I feel pretty good about Koch. I feel like he's quicker, greater variety in his strikes, very underrated ground game. Great fight though. You could easily describe Poirier the exact same way.
Michael H. (Memphis10)
U hearing any rumors on when and who Rashad Evans may fight next??
Brett Okamoto (1:03 PM)
I reported yesterday a fight between Rashad Evans and Phil Davis is in the works for the second UFC card on Fox in Chicago on Jan. 28. From my understanding, both fighters are agreed to it and should sign contracts shortly.
Erik (Boston,ma) [via mobile]
can diego sanchez make a serious run at the title? It seems like he's regressed since the penn fight
Brett Okamoto (1:05 PM)
I agree with you. I was one of the few who actually thought he DID beat Martin Kampmann. Fight could have gone either way. Most think Kampmann won just because of the damage done to Sanchez's face, but scoring each round individually, I had him winning. Either way though, it was far from a good win for Sanchez. He looks less technical lately, less inspired. That better change in next fight. Ellenberger is a beast.
I asked this your first chat, but you said you had to think about it. Thought I would ask again. What is the craziest, most unbelieveable rumor you've heard since you started covering MMA?
Brett Okamoto (1:06 PM)
I remember this question and, sorry, I haven't really given it a lot of thought. I will say I once heard a fighter had died. Called on it, ended up being not true. I guess that's pretty out there.
So Dominick Cruz is coming to my work for some promotional work with Rory McDonald I believe. I already bet my buddy $50 Cruz beats Faber again, but do you think Cruz would love the extra incentive knowing he'll win me $50 if he wins? I'd have to say that's the only motivation he'll need to get the KO.
Brett Okamoto (1:08 PM)
Let him know, guess it can't hurt. Sorry guys, little bit of an internet snag here at the Palms.
Brett, are you giving Mayhem a good chance of winning Saturday?
Brett Okamoto (1:13 PM)
I think his chances are underrated. Most people I talk to really like Bisping easily. I'm picking Bisping but Miller has ways to win the fight. At the end of the day, Bisping really is a difficult guy to take down though, something he doesn't get a ton of credit for. That will be the difference.
Brett Okamoto (1:13 PM)
Sorry guys. Internet problems again. I've switched servers, should be good now.
With Evans/Davis headlining UFC on FOX 2, what does this do for Munoz/Sonnen?
Brett Okamoto (1:13 PM)
I'm not sure. I've talked to members of Sonnen's camp. They are looking forward to a fight, but nothing is booked yet.
Dwight Wakabayashi (Toronto)
Are you coming to UFC 140 and do you see the main event being a quick Jones win? Also are you going to Japan in Feb?
Brett Okamoto (1:14 PM)
Yeah, I'll be in Toronto. I don't see it being a "quick" Jones win necessarily, but styles-wise, looks like it will be all Jones.
Do you think the UFC is expanding the number of its events too quickly? When there were 12-15 cards a year they were EVENTS. Now it seems like they're angling to run cards almost weekly. Tough to find the time for all of that - suddenly some cards become like a Jaguars/Dolphins game easily skippable.
Brett Okamoto (1:15 PM)
That's definitely an argument out there. Personally, I don't think they are doing too much. Gotta remember they have a lot of fighters under contract. Most guys want to fight at a minimum, four times a year. They need to put on events. As ppv go up, so do free events too.
Hello Moto, I know fights like Hendo-Shogun, or any Garcia fight, are considered "epic", but I find it hard to consider them the best UFC fights ever when both guys gas, and technique goes out the window. Thoughts?
Brett Okamoto (1:16 PM)
It depends. In those fights you mentioned, the guys gassed but only because it would have been physically impossible not to gas the way they were fighting. To see both guys have nothing left, but then find just enough to get a crucial takedown, that's epic to me. I didn't look at Hendo/Rua as them gassing, just really beating each other up.
Steve Mtz (New Mex)
Big moves in WW div! Love the Kamp-Alves n Diego-Jake fights! Possible title shot eliminator between winners of both fights?? Kamp-Jake are lookin too tough right now!
Brett Okamoto (1:17 PM)
Yeah, with Carlos Condit next in line with a win over Koscheck, I could see them pairing the two winners of those fights together. I agree with you on Ellenberger beating Sanchez, not sure about Kampmann, Alves. That's an interesting one.
Tommy H (DENVER)
After your man crush Cerrone beats Diaz, who do you think he gets? Lauzon/Pettis winner? Do you think the way he beats Diaz matters with choosing the next opponent?
Brett Okamoto (1:19 PM)
If you follow the chats during live events, I now have been accused of having man crushes on Cerrone AND Urijah Faber. Awesome. To answer the question, the Lauzon/Pettis winner would make a lot of sense. Wild card here, bring B.J. back to 155 and set that fight up! I'd watch. He's got to beat Diaz first though before any of that.
Marc (Malden, MA)
What do you think of changing the scoring system to use 0.5 pts? I feel there should be a difference between a guy who clearly wins a round (10-9) vs a guy who barely wins a round (10-9.5).
Brett Okamoto (1:20 PM)
I know a few guys involved in the sport who really love the idea of half-point systems. I'm skeptical it would help much. If anything, it introduces more controversy with guys losing a close fight by half a point. Maybe it would help, but honestly, I think people would bicker more about judging with it.
Who would you like to see Cung Le fight next?
Brett Okamoto (1:21 PM)
I was hoping Chris Leben, but that's out. Don't want to see him fight a wrestler, really. I'll have to think about that one a little more.
Is Rashad Evans vs Phil Davis really the right fight to main event UFC on Fox 2? It's 2 fighter casuals don't know who are wrestling based.
Brett Okamoto (1:22 PM)
I like it. It has a big impact on the division, for one. Both guys are athletic. I see what you mean about being wrestlers, but there's always that old saying of put two wrestlers in the cage and you'll get a knockout. They've both got personalities, too. More so than JDS/Cain.
Joe Streitenberger (Grove City Ohio)
Do you think brock or reem can get jds down, if lesnar gets on top of jds i think he wins and if reem does i think jds can get up. i think frank mir or lesnar is the only one who can beat jds
Brett Okamoto (1:24 PM)
Overeem wouldn't try to get JDS down, he'd stand with him. I do think Lesnar could get him down, the million dollar question is how quick? And how much damage does he take in the process? I agree with you on Mir. I think he's one of the more complete fighters at heavyweight. He's a legitimate threat in 2012.
What up Brett?.. I dont think Davis is anywhere near ready for the likes of Evans or any top LHW. That being said, do you think Hendo jumps in front of Evans for the next title shot?
Brett Okamoto (1:25 PM)
A lot of that has to do with timing. Dana said Hendo could fight at 185 or 205 and he thought he'd probably take whichever came first. A lot can happen. Rashad could lose. Jones could lose. All kinds of possibilities. As far as what would be FAIR, I think Rashad is definitely above Hendo if he beats Davis.
Speaking of Ellenberger, what's the point of having him fight Sanchez? I don't see that being too tough of a fight for him as long as he stays focused. Just to keep him active?
Brett Okamoto (1:26 PM)
Think so. He can't fight for the title right now. Diego is a good name the UFC can look back on and say, "Ellenberger is coming off a big win over this guy." Way to keep him active and build him at same time.
Not that i am promoting a 3rd fight, but Stephan Bonnar has improved so much. Would he beat Forrest in a 3rd fight?
Brett Okamoto (1:27 PM)
Good question. I'd still have Forrest a slight favorite, but plenty of people would be taking Bonnar I'm sure.
How do you see the Lil Nog vs Tito fight playing out?
Brett Okamoto (1:28 PM)
I'll have Red Ink out early next week where I break down the fights from a gambling perspective. I think Tito has to win the fight early. Not necessarily a finish, but take control of the fight and hit Lil Nog's gas tank a bit. Probably going to go the distance and Ortiz gets flat late. So he's got to rack up points early.
Brett Okamoto (1:29 PM)
Auto update is now on for those requesting. Good call.
With so many fights for many years being scrutinized for bad judging, when do you think judging will be taking seriously and improvments in the overall judging be addressed?
Brett Okamoto (1:30 PM)
If you read my stuff regularly, you guys know I'm not a judge basher. I think they've got a tough job and for the most part, they usually get it right. I think there is just a ton of attention placed on fights when they get it wrong so we think it's a bigger problem than it is. I also think the rules need to be clearer. Labeling something like "effective striking and effective grappling" is fairly vague.
Cung Le vs. Leonard Garcia!! Seriously... Cung Le looks like he can drop to 155 easily.
Brett Okamoto (1:31 PM)
That would be a fun dream fight, but Leonard actually fights at 145. Ain't happening. I'd pick Le though.
Brian (UFC Fan in Orlando, FL)
Hi Brett, what have you heard about the verbal war recently between Sonnen and Arianny? I think it should be very interesting at the MMA Awards, which Sonnen is hosting and she is up for an award she most likely will win.
Brett Okamoto (1:32 PM)
For those who didn't hear, Sonnen took a crack at Arianny's intelligence in an interview with a Las Vegas publication this week. Nothing to say about it, really. Sonnen being Sonnen. I doubt it leads to MMA Awards drama...
Doug (Denver, CO)
What fight was better in your opinion, Hendo v Shogun or Alvarez v Chandler?
Brett Okamoto (1:33 PM)
I have to go Hendo/Shogun. Both guys were literally knocked out on their feet at times. Alvarez/Chandler was a fight where I was like, 'Wow, this could easily be fight of the year.' Hendo/Shogun had me honestly racking my brain if it was the best fight EVER.
tdiddy (winnipeg) [via mobile]
Rashad/Davis official btw. I don't think he will, but if Bisping gets past Miller on Saturday, his next fight will be for the belt right? I mean why not...
Brett Okamoto (1:35 PM)
You would think so, right? He's fought in the UFC since 2006, only three losses I believe and all to tough guys. Two of them were close decisions. I do still think Sonnen deserves the first shot, but Bisping is right there.
Does Cotto get revenge over Margarito this weekend?
Brett Okamoto (1:36 PM)
I'm not sure. Cotto is the popular pick because of the handwraps issue, but Margarito has the right style to beat Cotto. I am definitely going to watch that fight. For casual boxing fans -- this one should be worth the money in terms of action in the ring.
What fight are you most looking forward to in 2012?
Brett Okamoto (1:37 PM)
I like to watch Nick Diaz. I'm anxious to see what he's got for GSP.
I think Tito can make one last run at getting his belt back. Do you give Tito a realistic chance at winning the belt back now that he is fully healthy? I mean he did fight Rashad on short notice...
Brett Okamoto (1:39 PM)
I'd like to see Tito recapture some old magic, but a title run isn't happening. He's not what he was athletically due to the injuries. Have to remember how severe those were, surgeries to neck and back. Reconstructive ACL surgery. That, and he's not as well-rounded as the new breed of guys at 205 right now. A win over Lil Nog though is well within reach.
Do you think the UFC needs to adopt a ranking system for fighters to avoid becoming a a??reala?ý version of WWE?
Brett Okamoto (1:41 PM)
No. Maybe I'm off here, but I don't think the UFC struggles with convincing people it's a real sport. It's more convincing people it's a sport and not barbaric.
Have you kept your Red Ink records? How much are you winning people money?
Brett Okamoto (1:42 PM)
Dude, I've asked ESPN to set up some kind of record for me but it's a coding thing and they haven't had time yet. Knock on wood, I've been on fire lately. 9-0 on last three cards, I believe. Worst beat was picking Schaub over Big Nog in Brazil. I was so confident!
Do you see the UFC spreading itself too thin with all these different cards they are setting up between their usual PPVs, UFC on FOX, UFC on Fuel, etc.?
Brett Okamoto (1:44 PM)
I don't. I can see how it gets to be a little much for those who aren't hardcore fans, but giving lesser known guys the chance to headline a fight helps create stars. When you compare what the UFC is doing to say, baseball's 162 games, I don't think it's oversaturation.
hector (still mourning)
when do expect velasquez in the octogon and with who??
Brett Okamoto (1:45 PM)
I never got the full extent of his injuries. In talking to his camp, it was clear he wasn't 100 percent, but they never told me all the details. So, he's got to get healthy. In terms of opponent, not sure. I think he beats pretty much anybody they match him up against. I still consider him No. 2 in the division.
Brett-Looks like you are having some tech problems. Don't worry bro, you will work out the kinks...don't be nervious.
Brett Okamoto (1:47 PM)
Haha, appreciate the kind words. Not nervousness. Talk to any journalist and ask them they're No. 1 anger issue. It's bad internet. I tend to throw things when internet isn't working.
How do you see Bader/Rampage playing out? I see it being a little more competive Rampage/Hammill. Bader has better boxing so that'll make it look better but in the end, a fairly easy win for Rampage.
Brett Okamoto (1:48 PM)
I can't say I disagree with any of that. Bader much more athletic than Hamill was though, especially for that fight. Rampage still has problems fighting off his back, so if Bader has success taking him down throughout the fight things change. But, yeah, seems like a win for Rampage.
Jason (Des Moines)
When do tickets go on sale for Chi-Town on the Jan 28th?
Brett Okamoto (1:49 PM)
Good question, not sure. Have they announced? I would think within the next two weeks.
You say Cain beats almost anybody....but I'd really like to see that Fedor-Cain fight happen. I still think Fedor is the best in the world when he actually puts the time in to train for a fight. The guy is dominant.
Brett Okamoto (1:50 PM)
Really? I just don't. Fedor will go down as a true legend but you think he can defend Cain's takedowns and constant pressure? If he clipped him, like JDS did, then he wins. But that's really the only way I see it happening. And more than likely it doesn't matter, because I just can't see the UFC bringing him in at this point.
Robert (Salt Lake City, UT)
If you were a betting man, would you say Miller comes down to the octagon on Saturday with his usual flashy style?
Brett Okamoto (1:51 PM)
I am a betting man, I live in Vegas! And yes, he won't have a dance team behind him but he'll be Mayhem Miller.
jrsdomain (solaris paper)
How long u see Cain out for? Considering that in over a year he's logged in 64 seconds of cage time and time spent on injury. Does he get the loser of Brock/reem?
Brett Okamoto (1:52 PM)
Again, depends on the injury. Teammates said he was back in the gym immediately after the loss, but that doesn't really tell us a ton. If Overeem loses to Lesnar by getting taken down and held on his back, I don't think they'd make him fight Cain immediately after. They'll give him a fun fight for the fans, would be my guess. Rematch of Lesnar/Velasquez, possibly.
Is Sergio Martinez - Andre Ward a better fight than Pac Man and Mayweather?
Brett Okamoto (1:53 PM)
Both are great. Still got to go with Pac-Mayweather though.
tdiddy (winnipeg) [via mobile]
Your predecessor had a mad crush on Guillard. I find him wildly unlikeable, and frankly, overrated. Your thoughts?
Brett Okamoto (1:54 PM)
If you ever hung out with him, you'd change your mind on the unlikeable part. Guillard is a fun dude to be around. I don't think he's overrated, I think what everyone thinks. He's got to get it together mentally over the course of a long period of time. Something he's never done.
Brett Okamoto (1:55 PM)
Alright guys, time to head to Bisping interview. Thanks again for participating. Right back here next Wednesday. Tell your friends. Later.