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 3 p.m. ET!
Brett Okamoto (3:00 PM)
Better late than never I suppose on today's chat. Sorry for the delay, I flew into Fort Collins, Colo. this morning. Feels like I haven't been in the same city for two straight weeks since I took over this chat from Anik two months ago. And next year looks even crazier with the UFC schedule. Anyway, thanks for tuning in even with a different time. What you guys feel like talking about today?
Darren (Atlanta, GA)
As a fan of Brock Lesnar, am I wrong to assume Lesnar's only way of winning this fight is by taking Overeem down and keeping him there? I mean I'm a realist and Lesnar has showed no ability to take a punch...
Brett Okamoto (3:02 PM)
No, you are not wrong. If Lesnar can't get this to the ground he has no chance. I think he will get it to the ground though and I like him in the fight. Anybody watch any of the preview stuff leading up to this though? Overeem is coming off as crazy confident. Sometimes that's a bad thing, but I kind of like his attitude in this scenario.
David (Austin, TX)
Who would you give Brian Stann next? He was on a tear before the loss to Chael
Brett Okamoto (3:03 PM)
I think someone asked a similar question last week and I threw out Cung Le. If we're willing to give Wanderlei Silva to Vitor Belfort, why not Cung Le to Brian Stann? I don't want to watch Stann fight another wrestler, like Sonnen, and a Le fight would be highly entertaining while it lasts.
alibson (San Francisco)
What has happened to the 30 minutes of MMA Live Every week?
Brett Okamoto (3:04 PM)
I've been getting a lot of questions on the show. Right now, MMA Live will not be returning to television in the near future. A new producer has taken over and it will be featured online only. We're working on a few ideas right now though that will make it look different and still have it be something you guys would want to watch online. The more successful it is online, the better chance it has to returning to TV. I'll keep you guys posted on more details. It's going to be much different, but I'm optimistic it will be good.
decammy (los angeles, ca)
Brett with the new TUF going World wide do you think it's necessary for the coaches to fight each other at the end like here in America? Not really excited about Silva vs Belfort 2.
Brett Okamoto (3:06 PM)
That's a good question. When they have so many going on simultaneously (looks like it could be four at one time in the very near future) it does make the coaches' fights less important. Are you not excited for that fight because it seems like such a mismatch on paper? I've got to admit, I was surprised they decided to go that route.
Im sure you don't agree, but I think gilbert would be about 3rd or 4th best lightweight in the UFC. Convince me you take him over frankie, Henderson, or maynard.
Brett Okamoto (3:07 PM)
I wouldn't take him against Frankie. I think Frankie's speed would give him trouble and he wouldn't be able to get him down, much like what happened against Maynard. I like his chances better against Henderson actually. He can match his pace, Henderson engages with you more. I don't think he'd get dominated and put on his back like Hendo does to many of his opponents. I think he'd beat Gray.
Mathew long beach [via mobile]
If u had to guess, whos frank mirs next opponent?
Brett Okamoto (3:07 PM)
Winner of the March 3 fight between Josh Barnett and Daniel Cormier.
What do they do with Cyborg?
Brett Okamoto (3:08 PM)
Keep lining them up and watching them fall. What else can you do? Sixteen second knockouts don't ever really get boring, even if you are expecting them. Rousey is not ready. Rousey is slick and I love watching her, but she's not ready yet. That will probably happen this year though.
Either UFC gives SF some lightweights (Dunham, Lauzon. guys like that) or Melendez needs to be brought in. There is nobody left for him.
Brett Okamoto (3:10 PM)
Sending UFC guys to SF sounds like the most likely scenario but how does that work? How do you send UFC lightweights to go compete in an organization not as many people care about and there is less money. Then, if they beat Melendez, the perception is, "Ah, Melendez wasn't that good anyway" and then they are stuck defending the belt. That's a tough sell to those guys.
Hey Brett! Big fan of Nelson vs Werdum fight. Any other fights coming to UFC 143 that will get fans excited? Thanks!
Brett Okamoto (3:11 PM)
That Nelson/Werdum fight was the big one I had heard of when I mentioned some good matchups were being put together for 143. Haven't heard any more rumors regarding big-name fights on that card, but I'd expect at least one more that will create headlines. That card needs some more pop after losing GSP.
What up Brett? I can't wait for the Cerrone/Diaz fight, I think it has FOTN written all over it. Who you taking? I gotta go with The Cowboy.
Brett Okamoto (3:13 PM)
Dude, I love the Cerrone/Diaz fight. I've got enormous expectations for that fight...and the buildup to it. I think those two will really create some animosity towards one another as it gets closer. I can't really argue with people taking Cerrone, but I'm taking Diaz. Look for Red Ink early next week, my gambling preview, for reasons why.
Clint (Detroit, MI) [via mobile]
Don't you feel like eventually the way bouts are judged will have to change?
Brett Okamoto (3:14 PM)
What I could see is the criteria being more finely defined. Right now, the way things are worded as to what judges are looking for is somewhat vague. Right now, I don't see it changing from a 10-point must, but COULD it happen eventually? Maybe.
Moving the chat time to 3 is just your way of reminding us that the next UFC is moved back an hour..... I understand
Brett Okamoto (3:14 PM)
And that it's on a Friday. MMA fans need to be on their toes this week.
Robert (Hammond LA)
True or false? Bigfoot would be better off going to Bellator
Brett Okamoto (3:15 PM)
Why? Bigfoot, like every other mixed martial artist, wants to be in the UFC.
Am I crazy to think that Mousasi may be the best equipped to stop Jones? Phenomenal striking, and he can fight off his back.
Brett Okamoto (3:16 PM)
Yeah, I think you're crazy. He'd definitely get put on his back, there's no question about that. And I guess, yes, he can fight off his back, but is that really the best strategy to fight Jon Jones? Whoever beats JJ first will not do so off his back, and there's no way Mousasi could stop his takedowns.
Scott (Salt Lake City)
Can Strikeforce really survive if only 3000 people show up events where belts are on the line?
Brett Okamoto (3:17 PM)
Believe it or not, promoting Strikeforce and getting people in the building just doesn't seem to be a big priority for Zuffa. They're not going to make profits on those gates anyway. Things are just weird over there right now. That San Diego card had zero marketing behind it. Seems to be the same with the Vegas card next month.
Corey (Quincy, MA)
If Lesnar loses next week, what's next for him? Does he just retire? He doesn't seem like the type of guy who will hang around if he can't beat the best...
Brett Okamoto (3:19 PM)
I agree with you. If he loses badly, maybe that's it. UFC would probably try to talk him into at least one more. Off the top of my head, I'm not sure how many fights he has on his contract. I'd still say he'd fight one more time even with a loss to Overeem, but add another loss after that and I would think he'd probably walk away. That's just my guess.
In your opinion which former(or soon to be former) Strikeforce HW has the biggest impact on the UFC. I say Cormier as I think his wrestling will challenge a striker like JDS.
Brett Okamoto (3:20 PM)
Cormier is definitely up there. His skill set gives him at least some sort of shot against pretty much everyone. Barnett will have mixed results based on the matchups.
Ryan (Reading, Pa )
With the history between Josh Barnett and Dana White, Even if Barnett wins the Grand Prix do you think that Dana White will bring him in the UFC??
Brett Okamoto (3:21 PM)
If he wins in March, I would think they would absolutely bring him in. Other fighters with previous Dana beef have been allowed to return. With the momentum of a Grand Prix win, Barnett would be brought back. If he loses, he might be out of luck though.
Are you a Bronco's fan, or just the Rockies? Thoughts on Tebow?
Brett Okamoto (3:23 PM)
Just Rockies. I pretty much love the Rox so much I have nothing left for other teams. I like Tebow. Did you guys see him Mic'd up during the Redskins game? Google that if you haven't. Most interesting Mic'd up player I've ever listened to.
Who is poised to be fighter of the year for next year? What attributes make a candidate likely for fighter of the year?
Brett Okamoto (3:24 PM)
A guy who fights frequently and FINISHES. With very few exceptions, I think fans want to see a fighter of the year who dominates and ends fights early, not takes them 25 minutes. Impossible to say who will win next year ... JDS? Whoever runs the 125-pound division? Nick Diaz (if he goes undefeated?)
Larry (Vancouver BC)
Frank Mir got his title stripped after his accident...what is the differences btwn his long layoff compare to GSP's
Brett Okamoto (3:26 PM)
Good comparison, actually. UFC knew both would be out for extended amount of time, made it an easy, early call to go with an interim belt. There is more optimism regarding GSP's return than Mir's, that's for sure.
Kidron (Chattanogga, TN)
I have trouble understanding why Brock Lesnar is getting so much credit and hype. I mean, he's only had 7 fights and he's lost two of them. Granted, he did win the UFC title, but it was from Randy Couture. The last time he did anything significant was in 2007 when he TKOd Gonzaga. Overeem has been destroying people since 1999, and he tore people up in Pride! The only thing I see happening is a Brock Lesnar lay and pray cop out or a Reem knee to the face and KO. What is your take?
Brett Okamoto (3:29 PM)
I see your point on Lesnar, but I don't think he's getting too much credit. Everybody acknowledges now the guy hates to get hit but his takedowns are extremely tough to deal with and he's a monster once he gets you to the ground. I'd argue the competition he's faced in the past 2-3 years is better, or at least equal, to what Overeem has faced. And Brock isn't really a lay and pray guy. I can understand if what he does doesn't excite you as much as Overeem's style, but he's not a decision fighter.
Ufc 143 is lacking for superbowl, last week you mentioned hearing rumors, can you fill us in?
Brett Okamoto (3:30 PM)
Nelson, Werdum was the one I thought you guys would like. Haven't heard anything else on it as of yet.
Seeing as though Melendez is staying in Strikeforce, who can you see going there from the UFC and fighting him?
Brett Okamoto (3:31 PM)
I'd be interested in your guys' thoughts on this, actually. It has to be a guy coming off a win. How can you send someone to fight for the Strikeforce title (even though I know it doesn't mean that much) if he's coming off a loss? Honestly, I wouldn't be shocked if they just went with a guy already in Strikeforce. Stylistically speaking, if I could see him fight anyone, I'd want to see Melendez fight Edgar.
What is the point of the UFC bringing a guy like Lavar Johnson over? Why waste a fight card spot on a guy who couldn't beat Shawn Jordan?
Brett Okamoto (3:33 PM)
Agree with that. Heavyweight division is still lacking in depth though. Sometimes you just need bodies. At the very least, you want a guy who won't gas in two minutes, which I think has pretty much finally happened at the highest level.
Jone Jones vs an adolescent bear who wins?
Brett Okamoto (3:33 PM)
Jones all day.
Great interview transcript from your conversation with Overeem last week. Is there anything to add that may not have come through in the transcript? thanks and happy holidays!
Brett Okamoto (3:33 PM)
Thanks and no, I pretty much included everything. I usually don't write many Q&A's but figured it was the best format in that scenario.
James (fayetteville NC)
Do u think Munoz has a chance against Sonnen? Also, I think Maia will expose Bisping lack of BJJ skill.
Brett Okamoto (3:34 PM)
I think Chael Sonnen will win that fight. I like Mark Munoz and his ground and pound is not hyped, it is seriously violent. But Sonnen is just the better athlete I think. I'm leaning with you on Maia over Bisping.
With brock lesnar recovering for a year and having basically a normal training camp wouldnt it be fair to assume that we are going to see the same lesnar as before with the same holes in his game.
Brett Okamoto (3:36 PM)
Yes, I actually wrote a column on that about a month ago. I asked him one-on-one how he's dealing with that and he basically didn't have an answer. Admitted he's still working on "the basics." Unless he's tricked all of us, I expect him to be the exact same guy he was a year ago.
Gabe Saginaw Mi [via mobile]
How many wins does Anthony Pettis need 2 get a title shot?
Brett Okamoto (3:37 PM)
Now that the belt is moving again with the champ healthy, I would think only two. Beat Lauzon, then maybe beat the winner of Guillard/Miller for a title shot.
MMA Fan (New York)
Who do you like in the Fedor vs Satoshi Ishii fight?
Brett Okamoto (3:37 PM)
I honestly don't care all that much. I'll watch but when I look at Fedor, I see a fighter who doesn't want to fight anymore. Which makes it hard for me to pay much attention to him.
James JOnes (Hell, MI)
Hello Moto. In fighter of the year, why not Donald Cerrone? If he wins next week it'll be 5 fights of increasing quality in 12 months. That has to count for something, you'd think
Brett Okamoto (3:38 PM)
For sure man. If Jon Jones didn't exist, Cerrone would 100 percent be my pick for fighter of the year. But ...... Jones does exist.
Dana has said he doesn't want Strikeforce to be a feeder league but on the same token he doesn't want it to compete with UFC! How does that work Brett?
Brett Okamoto (3:39 PM)
I don't know. And I don't think Dana even knows. He's saying he doesn't want it to be a feeder league because he's a promoter. What promoter is going to say, 'Yeah, these guys aren't the best in the world, but still watch anyway!' That's bad business. Strikeforce is basically a league of guys the UFC is interested in but not willing to sign, plus the unfortunate Gilbert Melendez.
Kidron (Chattanooga, TN)
Why has Dana never brought the Last Emperor to the UFC? I mean it's definitely not because of a lacking track record..
Brett Okamoto (3:40 PM)
He's tried. Several times. Very hard. Now, the UFC has all the negotiating power and Fedor's team has none.
Why would B.J Penn want to fight in Strikeforce? I makes absolutely no sense for a former UFC champion in 2 weight classes!
Brett Okamoto (3:41 PM)
Who said he did? Did I miss a blog or something? B.J. doesn't want to fight in Strikeforce. And there's no way he would fight in Strikeforce.
Paul B (NY, NY)
What's up Ninja? Please answer this one- I watched Cyborg dismantle yet another oppenent with a savage beat-down. A) Does she hit harder than say Dominick Cruz and B) What % do you give her to beat a flyweight like John Dodson? I am guessing No and 3% but want your take!
Brett Okamoto (3:43 PM)
A. I very highly extremely doubt she hits harder than Cruz. B. Three percent sounds about right. So, I agree with you on both accounts.
Kevin (Mile High)
When i was in college up in Fort Collins, I went to a tough man competition in Old Town, and I remember a skinny guy beating the stuffing out of everyone. Did Cerrone ever do fights like that? It would have been around 2002-04, I swear it was him but nobody beleives me.
Brett Okamoto (3:44 PM)
Haha, who knows? I'll have to ask him. He is a Colorado kid. I could see a young, angry Cowboy beating up bigger dudes in Old Town circa 2003. That would not shock me.
Strikeforce lightweights are K.J Noons, Billy Evangelista, and........ who else challenges El Nino???
Brett Okamoto (3:45 PM)
Caros Fodor knocking out Justin Wilcox like that was pretty shocking. Josh Thompson has fought him close twice, but he's been silent for awhile and was already talking to me about retirement in 2010.
Where does Miguel Torres end up?
Brett Okamoto (3:46 PM)
Back in the UFC. Look for him to probably headline one show in the interim in the Midwest. I got to believe when things cool down he'll be brought back.
How do you see Davis/Evans going? I have to think Evans stand up will be the difference. Plus, didn't Davis struggle at times to get Lil Nog down?
Brett Okamoto (3:47 PM)
I'm with you. I think Evans wins the fight with his standup. He's quicker than Phil, he'll avoid the takedown and land his punches. I'm not sold on how comfortable Davis is standing just yet. Got away with it against Lil Nog, he won't with Evans. That said, I know they are working a lot with Davis in that area and he's got a good camp (guys like Cruz, Vera, Gustaffson) to work with.
when is rampage going to able to kick someones ass again
Brett Okamoto (3:48 PM)
Haha, he fights Bader in Japan. And I just found out today I'm likely going to that one. Looking forward to it.
Gabe Saginaw Mi [via mobile]
Who does Cain Velasquez fight next?
Brett Okamoto (3:50 PM)
I honestly don't know. He might be a candidate for breaking the rule of "always pair winners with winners and losers with losers." I could see him fighting the winner of Nelson/Werdum. Too bad Shane Carwin is hurt, that'd be the matchup they would make. Maybe if Mir takes the winner of March 3, CV takes the loser.
Dave (Saint Louis)
Why not have Melendez fight Guida again? First fight was a split decision and I believe Clay Guida is a ton better now then he was with Strikeforce.
Brett Okamoto (3:51 PM)
I know you're not the only one who'd like to see that fight again. I guess a lot of it depends on how receptive a UFC guy is to going to Strikeforce. And it still creates that weird question of, how can this guy fight for a SF title you are trying to tell me means something when he's coming off a loss?
James (fayetteville NC)
If not for Jones, Nick Diaz would be fighter of the year. Luv Cowboy though.
Brett Okamoto (3:52 PM)
Yeah, Diaz is up there too. I find myself constantly looking forward to his next fight.
Overeem is giving Brock no respect. However, if memory service me right Overeem didn't look good at all in his last fight with Werdum.
Brett Okamoto (3:53 PM)
It does seem like he's giving him no respect, of course, that might also just be for show. He didn't look good against Werdum, at all, in my eyes. I know that was a weird fight, so you kind of give him a break, but he looked awkward. Frustrated. Hesitant.
Ultimate Warrior (Parts Unknown)
Assuming Rashad gets by Davis, when would he get his shot, I'm tired of him trashing JJ and not getting a chance to eat his words.
Brett Okamoto (3:54 PM)
Jones said he wanted about four months off and Rashad still has what, four weeks to his fight? I could see them doing it in May.
larrysandersjoe (newark-on-trent, uk)
Hello Brett. Do you think the UFC'll lay on a supercard to mark UFC150? PS Happy Christmas to to you and all MMA enthusiasts
Brett Okamoto (3:55 PM)
Merry Christmas to all of you as well and, ummm, I guess maybe they might put a little more into it than usual but I doubt it will be treated as a big milestone. Safe the fanfare for the 100-marks.
Brett Okamoto (3:56 PM)
And we'll end it with that. Happy Holidays to you all. Meet right back here next Wednesday or talk to me anytime on Twitter, @bokamotoESPN.