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)
What's up everyone? Crazy stretch of MMA about to get going with strong cards from the UFC, Strikeforce and Bellator locked down. For a blog I was writing the other day I counted things up, 17 cards in 17 weeks. Nuts right? And included in there are fights like Jones/Evans and Sonnen/Silva. Looking forward to next few months. What's on your mind heading in?
Conor (Dublin, Ireland)
Is it good for the UFC to be taking as long a break it has had between events?
Brett Okamoto (1:07 PM)
Depends on who you ask. I've never really been amongst the group saying the UFC is putting on way too many shows. It feels like oversaturation to some, but to me, I don't know, I've never reached that point yet. Kind of seems like you get people complaining no matter what. When it's a busy schedule, they say it's too much. Then when the UFC goes into a break like this, it's like, "Hey, where's the UFC?" I do think this break will have a positive effect on the 145 PPV numbers.
Michael H (Memphis)
What's the chances of Fedor ever coming to the UFC?
Brett Okamoto (1:10 PM)
Not good at all. For one, I'm sorry but honest truth, it's not a 100 percent given he deserves it right now. He's 2-3 in his last five fights and the two wins weren't against great competition. During that time, I got the feeling watching Fedor that his heart really wasn't in it anymore. Add in the fact Dana harbors a grudge against Fedor and his management group for turning down the deal they offered years ago ... it's not happening. Personally, my heart doesn't yearn for Fedor in the UFC. Doesn't mean he's not a legend, but the guy isn't a top 10 heavyweight to me anymore.
Josh S. (Philly)
Who do you have winning this season of TUF?
Brett Okamoto (1:11 PM)
I guess this week my top guess would be Justin Lawrence.
decammy (Los Angeles, CA)
Sup Brett I think TUF should be on a Thursday night and two fights should be shown. I mean wanting the fans to stay on a Friday night for one fight is a hard sell and it extend the season making it drag too long.
Brett Okamoto (1:13 PM)
Yeah, I agree Friday night is a tough sell to this demographic and it is a looong season. We'll see what happens. When you're working with a network like Fox, every decision isn't completely up to you. What is Fox thinking of the numbers? Everyone always asks the UFC what they think, but how about the network? Right now though, I don't think the numbers are a concern but I would think changing days would be an option if they become one.
What's next for Diego Sanchez? Could you see him fighting for a title again?
Brett Okamoto (1:16 PM)
I can't. He's one of the toughest guys in the sport but he's fighting at 155 or 170, probably the two deepest weight divisions right now. He'll give anyone a great test but I don't think he string together the wins needed to get him back to the top. As far as what's next ... I feel like someone suggested a great option during this chat a little while back but I forget ... Maybe let him fight Rory McDonald in Calgary if McDonald beats Mills? Is that too quick a turnaround? Calgary needs a Canadian. That'd be a good test for Rory.
With Mo being kicked out of Strikeforce, is there any chance that Zuffa starts getting some talent influx for the roster for womens 135, 155 and 170? Do they move the rest of the 205 pounders over to UFC?
Brett Okamoto (1:17 PM)
Strikeforce is open to signing talented women, that has nothing to do with Mo leaving. And no, I don't believe they will move the rest of the light heavyweights over. It's not a terrible idea because the UFC's 205 division is pretty thin, but I haven't heard it being discussed.
if anderson beats chael in the rematch, who's next up?
Brett Okamoto (1:19 PM)
You would think the winner between Michael Bisping and Mark Munoz but, oh wait, those two aren't fighting each other. I didn't really get that? I would say signs point to the opportunity going to Bisping as long as he beats Tim Boetsch and Silva stays at 185. And even though I think some fans won't like that, I'm not terribly against it. I think he should be fighting Munoz to earn it though.
Tom (St. Louis)
Will people realize that the UFC is on a break due to the NCAA tournament, and they wouldn't have a chance at getting high numbers over that.
Brett Okamoto (1:22 PM)
They've gone against the tournament before. I just think we've all grown accustomed to no breaks from the UFC being this long. Anyone know off the top of their head the last time there was no show for this amount of time?
Speaking of TUF, is it 100% sure that the showdown with Faber and Cruz will be July 7 in Vegas at 148?
Brett Okamoto (1:22 PM)
MMA and the UFC in particular, have an abundance of big time stars (Jon Jones, Anderson Silva, Junior Dos Santos, GSP, Frankie Edgar, Rampage, etc). But, unlike MMA, boxing has a dearth of true stars beyond Money May and Pacquiao. Do you see any relatively big name boxers transitioning to MMA given the growth of the sport and the allure of more consistent paydays?
Brett Okamoto (1:23 PM)
Yeah, I do. And I think boxing promoters are aware of that and need to be scouting talent at a young age to prevent it.
tdiddy (winnipeg) [via mobile]
Hello Moto. I am a tremendous Gustafsson mark, but I can't see Dana putting him up for a title shot if he beats Silva. Maybe if he gets through Silva quick and w/o injury, maybe they could throw him Machida. Lord knows he's due for a fight.
Brett Okamoto (1:25 PM)
Yeah, this isn't a title fight for Gustafsson. Remember, Thiago Silva wasn't even the original opponent. It was Rogerio Nogueira, who is a good fighter but not the kind of name that catapults a guy to a title. They're clearly building Gustafsson though, which is good because they need new players at 205. Give him the hometown fight. Let him headline a card. Only problem is, I think Silva is going to beat him.
This long break makes these chats tough. It's nothing against you, I think you do a good job. It's just hard to talk about the same things for a month straight.
Brett Okamoto (1:27 PM)
It's not quite as fun when major fights aren't going down but there's still news out there. King Mo getting cut is a major storyline. Bellator has put on some good fights. They've got another one coming with Marlon Sandro vs. Alexandre Bezzera this week. Check that out if you guys can.
Man, 17 straight weeks of fights! It makes these 6 weeks of no storylines and no action worth it. Good story about the fights that won't get much attention. This doesn't really apply but I don't think diaz miller will get to to much attention and that's the fight I'm lookin forward to, gotta see who s next for Benson.
Brett Okamoto (1:28 PM)
Yeah that's a great fight and I'm happy the UFC decided to use that as a headliner to the Fox card. It's kind of against what they did in the last one. Instead of using marketable guys outside the cage (Chael, Bisping) they're featuring a very compelling fight despite the fact both guys (Miller, Diaz) aren't exactly media darlings. I'm thinking this will be the best Fox card yet.
JP (London (via Montreal))
Regardless of what the pseudo-purists have to say, and I am by no means a Lesnar fan, surely we have to respect what Lesnar achieved in a very short period of time.
Brett Okamoto (1:30 PM)
Agree. I can obviously understand those who would say Lesnar is back in his rightful "home" with the WWE, but how can you even start to imply he didn't belong? He won the title. He beat down Frank Mir, who is one win away from fighting for the title again. If he hadn't gotten sick, who knows? I at least think a 100 percent, motivated Lesnar gives Overeem at least a difficult fight. You won't hear me hating on the guy.
seen the article about Lesner back in the WWE. Thought he had one more fight on his contract. I know he retired. So did Dana strike a deal to let him go back?
Brett Okamoto (1:31 PM)
Dana said right away after Brock retired he wouldn't "stop" him from going to the WWE. Was the UFC compensated in some way for allowing him out of his contract? Definitely a possibility. But from conversations I had about it with Dana and Lorenzo, it didn't seem like they ever had the intention to put a roadblock up and force Lesnar into a final fight.
Please tell me that Thomson is the last non UFC guy Melendez has to fight.
Brett Okamoto (1:31 PM)
I can't promise that, Andy. Wish I could. But I can't.
Top 5 LW's. I say it is Benson, Edgar, Maynard, Gil and either Pettis, Guida (with win over Gray) or Diaz-Miller winner. My friend swears it is Aoki, but he was so terrible against Gil that I can't see him beating anyone I mentioned. Even beating Alvarez has lost some luster now. What say you?
Brett Okamoto (1:33 PM)
1. Henderson 2. Frankie 3. Melendez 4. Maynard 5. Ummm, yeah Pettis. I don't have Aoki in top five. But definitely top 10. I think I have Alvarez there too. You can always see mine and all ESPN analysts power rankings at ESPN.com.
If Miller vs Diaz is decided on BJJ (neutralize each other in stand up and wrestling) who takes it?
Brett Okamoto (1:35 PM)
I don't think it will be as simple as that, since they're both so well-rounded. Straight BJJ, man, I'll give a SLIGHT edge to Jim Miller. Ever so slight. I think I'm picking Nate to win though. Size will play a role. Nate should be able to control where the fight goes and I think he'll win it on boxing. Honestly, I don't think either one of them are submitting the other.
How can Zuffa justify firing King Mo and then putting Thiago Silva in the main event of their next show?
Brett Okamoto (1:37 PM)
Fair question. Let's see what happens to Mo. He's suspended for nine months anyway. Let's see where his first fight is when he comes back. Thiago has been out more than a year due to his suspension. He wasn't supposed to headline a show, but Nogueira was injured. While it's a fair question, they're crimes were not the same. Mo didn't get let go because of the banned substance, he was dismissed for comments on his Twitter account.
Do Dana White and Lorenzo Fertitta intentionally play good cop/bad cop? Publicly at least, their approaches seem completely opposite. I was reminded of this after reading Dana's foolish rant against soccer.
Brett Okamoto (1:39 PM)
It's not intentional. Dana is obviously very passionate, he wears his emotions on his sleeve, he'll listen to opposing views but only for a little while. Lorenzo is naturally more laid back, he comes from a business background. It's just their personalities.
Marc (Malden, MA)
Did you read Chad Dundas's column on Brock Lesnar? I completely disagree that Brock "ultimately couldn't cut it at the sport's highest level." Brock had zero training/experience, (almost) his entire career was in the UFC, he became champ, beat the heck out of Frank Mir and really it was the two bouts of diverticulitus that did him in.
Brett Okamoto (1:40 PM)
I did disagree with Dundas on that one. Everyone's got their own opinions ... but I'm with you. We'll never know what could have happened had Lesnar stayed healthy.
Billy (West Michigan)
Who do you think is up next for Matt Mitrione?
Brett Okamoto (1:40 PM)
I've heard rumblings of Dave Herman. Nothing official yet, though.
Can Jon Jones counter punch if Evans pushes the pace like he did with Ortiz, we've never seen him back up well in fights like against Machida.
Brett Okamoto (1:41 PM)
It's true Jones is at his best when he's dictating offense, not responding to it. We'll see how Evans is able to push the pace against him though. It's easier said than done. Jones has great footwork, it will be very difficult to cut off his angles and back him up. I think Rashad's best shot is definitely his wrestling.
Alex (Concord, NH)
How do you see Cole Konrad doing if he leaves to go to the UFC? I know he beat Cain in the NCAA's and heard that he gave Brock Lesnar loads of trouble in sparring sessions.
Brett Okamoto (1:43 PM)
I wouldn't dismiss his chances at all. There are elite heavyweights at the top right now but then it's wide open after the first four or five. Konrad would be competitive with that second tier. I don't believe he'd be a title threat immediately though.
Combat sports require big time fights to remain relevant. What are the five BIGGEST unannounced UFC fights that you foresee happening over the next two years?
Brett Okamoto (1:46 PM)
Two years? I'm guessing Jon Jones will be at heavyweight within the next 730 days. I also think he'll be in a heavyweight title fight within that time so I'd say Jones vs. Whoever Heavyweight Champ Is would be one of them. Two years would give St. Pierre enough time to potentially beat two/three welterweights and move up to fight Anderson Silva. So, that would be another guess. Edgar/Aldo would be so awesome, don't know if it would capture the casual fan's interest enough for major PPV numbers, but it would be one of the biggest fights to happen in my eyes.
Who do you have in the Askren vs Lima fight this weekend and how? I hope Lima for all of our sake.
Brett Okamoto (1:46 PM)
Nope, it will be Askren. Sorry to be predictable here but I'll take him via decision.
Is Shogun going to have to wait for Rampage? Any other fight for him?
Brett Okamoto (1:48 PM)
I'm thinking he'll wait. No other obvious fights out there for him right now and Rampage isn't in a situation like a GSP where he'll be out 9 months.
Jon (Round Rock)
Hey Brett, who you bettin on and how much you puttin down?
Brett Okamoto (1:50 PM)
Gambling preview, Red Ink, for the Gustafsson/Silva card comes out early next week. I don't bet on fights because I don't want to be secretly cheering for a guy, but if I did, I'd put something on Thiago Silva even though he's going to his opponent's backyard. He's getting around +200.
Richard (Cape Coral, FL)
any chance lombard comes to the UFC anytime soon? would love to see him go against silva just to see how good he realy is
Brett Okamoto (1:52 PM)
Details on Lombard should come out soon. His contract with Bellator is up so technically, he's a free agent. My guess is they wouldn't give him Silva right away. It's not like he's this mysterious champ from another organization fans are dying to see fight for a UFC title. They'll give him a decent test at 185 and see if he passes. Personally, I think Silva would cruise past him.
Richard (Cape Coral, FL)
so any word(at least that you are allowed to say) on when and where ufc 150 will take place? i'm planning a trip to vegas sometime in august or september, and was really hoping to check out a ufc fight. maybe even jones/henderson?
Brett Okamoto (1:53 PM)
UNOFFICIALLY, if you come to Vegas early September you might be in luck. From what I'm hearing, UFC 150, however, will be in August and not in Las Vegas.
Just saw Guillard got his next fight and matched up with another bjj specialist. Is this the UFC's way of saying learn some moderate bjj defense or get out? Add some decent defense and guillard is a top 5 lw no question
Brett Okamoto (1:55 PM)
Maybe. Sink or swim time. If he loses though, is he cut? I'm not so sure. Why cut a guy in the prime of his career who always entertains? You can still put Guillard on a main card or a televised prelim and have faith it will be a good fight and people will be interested. Maybe what this does is truly force him to go to camp and work on nothing but grappling. I know, he should have done that by now, but maybe give him enough fights against grapplers and he'll catch on eventually. Either way, I think he'll have a job after the fight.
UFC 147 in Brazil Anderson Silva vs Chael Sonnen. I am a big Anderson fan and I think this will be a tough fight for him. My question is will there be any drug testing since the fight is outside the USA, to ensure the playing field is fair?
Brett Okamoto (1:56 PM)
Yes, absolutely. On international shows like these, the UFC hires an outside agency to run its testing and the whole process is overseen by Marc Ratner, who has been involved with athletic commissions for years.
Brett Okamoto (1:58 PM)
Alright guys, good stuff today. I've got to run and prepare for a few interviews I've got later today. Thanks as always for being here. Catch Bellator this week if you can, some good fights on that card, and get ready for a crazy schedule ahead. Plus ... baseball season starts today! Finally!
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