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 (1:05 PM)
Yo guys. Sorry for the delay, bit of a technical problem here early. It's resulted in a light queue to start, to feel free to post multiple questions. Japan was great. First time there, look forward to going back. Fights were great, too. Boetch comeback was pretty surreal live. It was so quiet for such a monster comeback. What'd you guys see?
What's up Moto..big fan...if gray Maynard has a couple impressive fights and Bendo is still champ, can u see him getting another shot? With Frankie as champ I don't think he would, but I think him and Ben would be a war
Brett Okamoto (1:06 PM)
No doubt about it, Henderson being there improves Gray's chances of another title shot dramatically. We'll see how he fares in his next fight though. It will be no easy task rattling off another win streak in this weight division. Gray needs to continue to evolve.
Man, finally Benson gets his belt and ESPN stops ranking Gilbert above him. You should've stuck with Benson, your article months ago said it all.
Brett Okamoto (1:07 PM)
Dude ... I know. This is why you don't flip on your picks. I had been wrong so many times on Frankie though. Maybe I'm just destined to never predict one of his fights correctly.
Are we going to see an immediate rematch between Henderson and Egdar, the match was close?
Brett Okamoto (1:08 PM)
Here's my personal opinion on it, which I think is pretty standard among those watching the situation. Frankie doesn't want to move down, for whatever reason (toughness, pride, competitiveness now he wants to show he can beat Henderson, whatever). UFC wants him to move down. We'll see which side prevails.
I just want to brag that I mentioned a few weeks ago on here that I thought Bader could spring the upset...even bragged saturday night to you on twitter
Brett Okamoto (1:10 PM)
Good call, good call. I picked Rampage as I'm sure most of you saw but that was before I knew he was going to come in out of shape and basically mentally defeated before the fight started. Any wager on Rampage moving forward is a dangerous wager.
Please tell me we've seen the last of Edgar the lightweight, dood doesn't bring it, tough but no power ...
Brett Okamoto (1:12 PM)
Well, I will argue with you that the "dood doesn't bring it." I think what we saw here is Ben was the first lightweight that's been able to match Edgar's pace an entire fight (Five rounds no less!) Edgar always faces the size disadvantage but he makes up for it by setting a pace that gasses his opponents, look at them -- Penn, Maynard, Tyson Griffin, Sean Sherk -- I remember all those guys gassing in those fights. I could not agree with you more. Edgar should move to featherweight. Nothing left to prove at 155. Establish your legacy at 145.
Nefeth Salazar (Hunts Point)
is Mark Hunt that good, or is Cheick Kongo's chin that bad?
Brett Okamoto (1:13 PM)
Can somebody tell me what Cheick Kongo's game plan was in this fight? The only area Mark Hunt is dangerous, in my opinion, is on his feet at the beginning of the fight. So you stand with him at the beginning of the fight? Why didn't he wear him down just a little bit in the first round then if you really want to stand with him, do it later when he's tired. I just don't know Cheick. You're going to have to win me back, right now, my interest in your fights is low.
Marc (Chicago, IL)
Who should Bisping fight next?
Brett Okamoto (1:14 PM)
I'd say Mark Munoz, right? Tough to make him fight two top-notch wrestlers in a row but if you want the title shot, Munoz is the right fight.
How did you score the fight? It seems like everyone I talked to had Frankie for 1,2, and 5 for 48-47
Brett Okamoto (1:15 PM)
First round was too close for me to give a winner. I sat there and thought about it until the next round started and couldn't do it, so I went 10-10. Edgar won the second then I thought Henderson won the last three and those last three weren't THAT debatable in my mind. Going to watch it again when I have the time, but that's how I scored it live.
Floyd (Monument (CO))
Rousy or Tate? And how?
Brett Okamoto (1:16 PM)
Going with the masses here and taking Rousey by submission.
What's next for Bisping? Timing is everything--I could see Bisping winning one match and basically being in line for a title shot. Is that possible or does he have to get two in a row?
Brett Okamoto (1:16 PM)
If they do the Munoz fight and he wins that, that'd be it. Title shot.
After Faber and Cruz, the best fighters in that weight class seem to be the young unproven guys. If Faber loses does he stay knowing he wont get a title shot for a while (assuming cruz will hold on to it for a while) or could you see him moving up and trying to get a crack at aldo?
Brett Okamoto (1:18 PM)
Tough question. I see what you mean in that as long as Cruz is champ he'll pretty much never fight for the belt again. I don't think he has a lot of interest, obviously, in Aldo right now. That fight isn't on his radar. I think it all depends on circumstances. What if Edgar moved down and beat Aldo? Then I think if you're Faber and you lose the trilogy fight to Cruz, you think about going back there and fighting Edgar?
Marc (Chicago, IL)
Which result from UFC 144 surprised you most? Just so many crazy upsets.
Brett Okamoto (1:19 PM)
Obviously, after watching the first two rounds I didn't think Boetsch was going to come back and punk Okami like that. I also really didn't see Mark Hunt beating Kongo, even though I swear I had this weird feeling in the back of my head that Kongo was going to refuse to fight smart.
Jessica (San Diego)
Ladies night Saturday!! Who are you picking, Meisha or Ronda??
Brett Okamoto (1:19 PM)
Thanks for the question Jess! I gave you my pick. Are the rest of you going Rousey like I suspect or do we have Tate believers?
How much water does Rampage's injury claim hold with you regarding his fight against Bader? Do you see him looking better in the next fight (Shougun?).
Brett Okamoto (1:21 PM)
I mean, it's tough to just cross your arms and say, nope, don't believe you. I could see the situation as he described it -- working on his wrestling, roughs up his knee, refuses to pull out because he wants the Japan fight. But, sorry Rampage, I could also see you in the twilight of your career, coming off a title loss and not really caring if you win or lose. I'd like to say he'll be better in next fight but I like being honest with you guys. I'd say 50/50 he looks better.
Constantino (Floral Park NY)
When Quinton Jackson was in his prime, he wanted to retire. Now hes washed up and he wants to keep fighting. Whats this guy's deal
Brett Okamoto (1:22 PM)
He talks a lot. So, when he was saying he wanted to retire who knows how serious he was. Now, how serious is he that he wants to continue fighting at a high level? Add in the fact he's never liked training.
What do you think about a comeback of the night bonus?
Brett Okamoto (1:23 PM)
It would work on some nights and be non-existent on others. I'm guessing on crazy comebacks, the UFC gives the guy some kind of performance bonus that isn't one of the typical ones.
Frankie Edgar seems to look at going to 145 as a demotion or something. Do you think he can change his mindset to understand that fans just want to see someone challenge Jose Aldo and he is THAT MAN.
Brett Okamoto (1:24 PM)
I talked to him about that before this Henderson fight. He was like, at first I would get aggravated people asking me about 145, but then I realized there are certain fights there they just really want to see. He said that, but yet ... it's like he doesn't truly believe it. Listen, Frankie, no one doubts you're a great lightweight or that you have a great chance to beat Henderson in a rematch. We just want to see you at your normal weight, man! And early gut feeling, I think he'd beat Aldo.
Going with Miesha, she's shown toughness, sub defense before
I am taking Miesha just because how does Ronday submit her when Hitomi Akano and Marloes Coenen (better and more experienced submission figher) couldn't?
Brett Okamoto (1:26 PM)
Fair points, I agree. Think Rousey can be a little more dynamic than those two and she's hot right now. Sometimes fighters get on a roll, as in other sports, and it's just very difficult to stop them.
Who is your very early pick as the TUF winner? Also why did they scrap the WW contestants?
Brett Okamoto (1:27 PM)
I'll admit, have not thought about that at all yet. I get a chance to meet them all and hopefully see a workout or two in the next few weeks so I'll give you a prediction as soon as I've got one.
Paul B (NY, NY)
How do you see Alves-Kampmann going down?
Brett Okamoto (1:28 PM)
I think Kampmann is going to wrestle him. Why not? He told me yesterday he sees the fight playing out a lot on the feet, but guys say a lot of things before fights. I just don't see why he wouldn't. He's got underrate wrestling. Alves has improved his td defense, I guess a little, since the GSP fight, but that's definitely still his weakness.
Can Brendan Schaub take the next step & beat a veteran Ben Rothwell? How does a B. Schaub rematch with Roy Nelson sound in the future?
Brett Okamoto (1:29 PM)
I don't know. I used to think Rothwell was capable of making some noise in the division but the guy has been so far out of shape in his last few fights. Schaub should be athletic enough to keep it standing and I'm guessing he finishes Rothwell unless Ben has made some serious strides lately. Rematch with Nelson is okay, at the very least it's waaay more interesting than it was say a year ago. Would show how much each has improved since TUF. I would say Schaub has improved while Roy has pretty much ran in place.
Where does that leave Vitor (after he kills Wandy) if Bisping gets past Munoz? I think Vitor would beat both of those guys and do it via KO
Brett Okamoto (1:30 PM)
That's a good point. Do they through Weidman to him? Lot of love for Weidman, but is he ready for Vitor? Obviously, Weidman would probably fight someone between then and now. If he wins, I think they'd probably do that fight. Vitor would be a handful for Weidman me thinks.
Was Frankie Edgar's face broken? he looked like a mess after the upkick
Brett Okamoto (1:31 PM)
Some people who watched the fight on PPV said it looked they reset his nose after the upkick? I didn't see that but I did see blood spraying from that area the rest of the fight. Every time he breathed, blood was spewing away from his mouth. Brutal. That dude is crazy tough.
Did you hear Aldo trainer comments on Frankie? You think Aldo camp is scared of Frankie moving down?
Brett Okamoto (1:32 PM)
Three ways to take it. 1. They said it to start hyping a potential fight between the two, figuring Edgar will move down. 2. Like you said, they did it because they secretly don't want him to move down. 3. They said it just because someone happened to ask and that was their response and it means pretty much nothing. My guess is No. 1.
Love the Rousey-Tate fight this weekend. My questions is whom else is there for them to fight outside of Kaufman and Davis? And what is Zuffa going to do about it?
Brett Okamoto (1:33 PM)
What a great question Alex! I myself have asked that to SF officials numerous times. I've never really got an answer and that is what the problem is with women's MMA. You can have a sweet fight that actually gets people excited, but there's nothing really exciting on the horizon. Until there is, there is no shot of it being in the UFC.
Thiago or Kampan?
Brett Okamoto (1:34 PM)
I'm leaning Kampmann.
When they had the news conference, how do you give the fight to someone who looked like he was fighting two or three people? Edgar's face was pretty beat up and Henderson looked like he just got done at the gym. Easy call for a unanimous decision right?
Brett Okamoto (1:36 PM)
Well, that's not always the best indicator on how a fight went. You remember Diego Sanchez looked as though he'd fought every fight on the card after beating Martin Kampmann, and I actually did agree with the judges that night he won the fight. But typically, it obviously usually works the other way and in this fight I thought it applied. Edgar was roughed up, Henderson looked like he hadn't fought.
Jeff (Salt Lake City)
What's next for Badar? I like the idea of him going against the Sweed (if he beats Lil' Nog). Don't think Badar has a chance against any of the top 5-6 though.
Brett Okamoto (1:37 PM)
He's getting better. There were improvements I saw in the Rampage fight and that's only going to continue. I'm down for the Gustaffson fight. That's an entertaining fight and one that makes sense. I wouldn't say he has no chance against the top 5-6, but yeah, he'd definitely be a significant dog against all of them.
tdiddy (winnipeg) [via mobile]
Man I feel bad for Lauzon. He looks so good some fights and outclassed in others. It seems he can't beat a top 5-7 guy and is destined to languish in the LW ranks for a while. See him moving down to 145? And I did'nt see if Pettis' stupifying head kick won KO of the night....
Brett Okamoto (1:39 PM)
It did win KO of the night. And Lauzon had a pretty bad matchup in this one. He was going to have a hard time getting this one where he wanted it. Guida is the only guy who's had success getting Pettis down regularly. Shane Roller and Jeremy Stephens had mixed success but Pettis really is no slouch on the ground, Guida is capable of doing that to a lot of guys in the division. That means Lauzon was going to be standing a lot in this fight and he's just out of his league there with Pettis. Not sure if he could cut to 145. He doesn't seem like a huge 155er with a lot of weight to lose.
Since you were there live, what was the crowd like in Japan?
Brett Okamoto (1:41 PM)
Extremely knowledgeable. They knew exactly what was going on and applauded key moments/momentum changes that U.S. fans tend to ignore. They also cheered kind of like, sounds weird, but one person. They all would say the exact same thing at the same time, like, "Hey" precisely on every strike Fukuda would land on Steve Cantwell. It was cool.
Ninja...just want to say that UFC 144 was easily the most fun card I've seen top to bottom in quite some time...especially since PPV audience got 6 great fights. Page/Bader was the only dud.
Brett Okamoto (1:42 PM)
Yeah, the card delivered. Hard to argue that. Good undercard, too.
You ever thought of doing "matches to make after UFC xxx" articles?
Brett Okamoto (1:42 PM)
We used to do a "post mortem" thing that broke down the card into different areas, including fights to make. Not sure what happened to that. Will mention to the higher ups.
Alexis (San Diego, CA)
Cerrone vs. Stephens? Fight of the night for sure.
Brett Okamoto (1:43 PM)
That would be a banger. Dang it, now I want to see that.
Who is next for Tim Boetch? I would like to see him and Weidman or Munoz. Bisping gets Okami now.
Brett Okamoto (1:45 PM)
I don't think they'll do Bisping, Okami. Bisping has a little steam behind him. He was on a winning streak, he's a big name, and he actually came away with more respect from the loss to Chael Sonnen than he had before it. I don't think you match him with Okami, who is in a slump, and chance wasting a headlining-type guy. Boetsch-Weidman would be good. Makes sense.
Brett, not giving the "Barbarian" much of a chance was a bad call, he has a punchers shot against any 185 pound fighter.
Brett Okamoto (1:46 PM)
Yeah he hits hard but Okami has a good chin. I know he was knocked down on a jab by Anderson but I basically threw out that fight because he just looked completely out of it that night. He had totally outclassed Boetsch through the first two rounds. If you saw that coming Ken, very well done. I absolutely did not.
Not saying this would ever happen. But imagine Boetch v Silva? Boetch would be a handful. Boetch pushing anderson against the fence all night?
Brett Okamoto (1:47 PM)
That's not what I see. I see Anderson making Boetsch look slower than a heavyweight and knocking him out either in the first or second. How would Boetsch cut off the cage and force Anderson against the fence? He doesn't have the footwork for that.
Eric (Oak Ridge, NJ)
Stephens is replacing injured Edwards so you get your wish!
Brett Okamoto (1:49 PM)
Ah, you're right! Looks like that was reported about the time we started the chat! Great fight. Love Edwards but Stephens will be much tougher on Cowboy. Sweet.
I can't wait until Gilby M crosses over to the UFC and teaches Bendo a lesson.
Brett Okamoto (1:50 PM)
Me too. I really believe Melendez would have no problem mingling with the top 5 UFC lightweights but you just can't be 100 percent sure until he gets in there.
Zach (st louis)
Moto, who is the coolest fighter you have met? What figther is not your favorite?
Brett Okamoto (1:51 PM)
Lame answer, I know, but they are pretty much all cool guys. Not joking. Very, very few I don't like talking to.
Gerry (San Francisco, CA)
I think Tate vs Rousey will result in a louder Nationwide Arena than a Blue Jackets game...
Brett Okamoto (1:51 PM)
I know nothing about the Blue Jackets, so I'll have to take your word for it. They bad or something?
Brett, do you give any credence to the idea that Hunt found some motivation and decided to finish his career at the highest level possible? He has looked motivated - very few words-working hard..
Brett Okamoto (1:53 PM)
Yeah, I mean, you definitely can't knock what the guy has done. With his stature you figure he's an easy guy to take down but he surprises you with his athleticism in there. He just beat a guy some of the ESPN.com analysts had as a top 10 heavyweight. He's a great story but I'll be honest, probably picking against him again in his next fight.
Eric (Oak Ridge, NJ)
I know we need to get him to agree to fight at 145 first but is it ridiculous to think Frankie can make 135? He says he cuts nothing to make 155.
Brett Okamoto (1:54 PM)
Not ridiculous at all. I bet he'd make it.
Some peeps say Big Country should drop to 185... I think those peeps are fools. 205, maybe. What do you think Brett?
Brett Okamoto (1:55 PM)
He's been gradually losing weight over the last six months or so. I think 185 is pretty crazy, but I'd like to see him at least put in an effort to get to 205. If he comes back and tells us, you guys, I was sick and had no energy, then it is what it is. But try.
Do you think Akiyama deserves the Dan Hardy treatment and get one more fight? I thought he looked good at170
Brett Okamoto (1:56 PM)
I agree. He looked incredibly physically strong for a 170er. I thought going in he was on his last fight but despite the loss, I think he'll get another fight and as long as it's at 170 I think he deserves it.
Paul B (NY, NY)
Brett- Do you feel like you got some extra love over there being of Japanese descent?
Brett Okamoto (1:57 PM)
Haha, no. Although they did see my last name and accidentally mix my credential into the Japanese list. But it worked out because those were the first to arrive so I told my fellow U.S. reporters "peace" and headed to the press room early.
Brett Okamoto (1:59 PM)
Alright guys let's wrap this one. Don't think we're doing the live chat for Friday's UFC show ........ but could be wrong on that. Follow me on twitter @bokamotoESPN and I'll let you know if we're launching that thing Friday. If not, still watch the fights I think it's an overlooked card. More likely we'll have the live chat going Saturday during Strikeforce. Either way, enjoy the cards. Have a good one.