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 (1:03 PM)
What's up guys and thanks for being here. What a bummer about Dominick Cruz. Torn ACL, surgery required. Talked to a member of his team, said Cruz was in as good of spirits as you could expect. You've got to think he'll come back 100 percent from it but those knee injuries are never a guarantee. Best of luck to him.
Was really enjoying this season of TUF. Now Cruz is out. Do they just hold off on the fight till he's healthy or is Faber being lined up for anyone else?
Brett Okamoto (1:05 PM)
Dana White said Faber will stay on the card. No official word on who he'll fight yet. Interim title will be on the line. Whoever they give the shot to, it'll be a tough fight. Plenty of time to prepare but I'm thinking it will be a young guy with probably no experience in a 5-round fight. I'm kind of expecting Faber to beat whoever they call up for him on the card.
Tyler (Oklahoma )
I dont really care much about ratings or ppv buys after UFC events but after seeing the numbers for this last FOX show, is the whole FOX/UFC relationship working? This was a great card, why was nobody watching?
Brett Okamoto (1:08 PM)
It wasn't as marketable of a fight. Diaz/Miller don't carry the heavy name recognition. It didn't have the backing the other cards had. The first one had promos running during NFL games and a well done Primetime series behind it. This Jersey fight didn't seem to be as highly promoted. It's a concern the numbers dropped as significantly as they did, but there were NBA playoffs that night ... it definitely was a different situation than the first two.
You're picking an MMA fantasy team. Who's your #1 pick right now?
Brett Okamoto (1:09 PM)
Jon Jones of course. He wins and he fights regularly. And he doesn't get hurt in his fights. Donald Cerrone would be another high pick to me just because of how often he fights.
Tim (North Olmsted)
Hey Brett - do you see Charles Olivera as an eventual contender at 145? I do and think he'd have a shot at beating Aldo.
Brett Okamoto (1:11 PM)
North Olmsted, Ohio? ... I can't agree with you on him having a shot at beating Aldo just yet. He's an interesting prospect but I haven't seen anything so far that suggests Aldo wouldn't handle him. I think the drop in weight was good ... he's got raw talent we know that but he needs to polish up on a few things. Cerrone buried him on the feet and we haven't seen him hold his own yet against a top notch wrestler.
I heard someone compare Hendricks to a poors mans Hendo. I think that is dead on. If Hendricks can't land the big left he is going to struggle in big fights.
Brett Okamoto (1:13 PM)
Not a bad comparison. Keep in mind though we haven't seen the best yet of Johny Hendricks. He's improving in between fights. I think that was kind of a difference we saw in the Koscheck fight. Kos isn't improving anymore, Hendricks is. He does rely heavily on the left hand but if it lands, who cares? It's such a power shot that he only needs to land it once to throw a guy's game off. He didn't look comfortable on his back in the third round of that fight though, that wasn't a good sign.
Jon Anik personally follows me, Josh Gross & Chuck Mindenhall talk to me on the regular. Did I do something to you in a past twitter life Motto?
Brett Okamoto (1:15 PM)
I will follow you right after the chat, how's that? I try to get back to everyone who tweets me, but I'm not on the thing 24 hours a day like some people. Not that I'm hating on guys who do that it's just not my thing all the time.
With Dominick Cruz dropping out of his UFC 148 fight, one of the young Bantamweights should get a shot at the interim title. My question is out of the three top BW prospects (Barao, McDonald and Dudu Dantas), who has the highest ceiling?
Brett Okamoto (1:16 PM)
Wow, tough question. All three are studs. To me, McDonald is maybe the best athlete of the three, so I lean towards him. Honestly, as far as how impressed I've been by them, it goes McDonald, Dantas, Barao. But there's not much separation between them.
Why does everyone think that Anthony Pettis has a claim to being the number one contender? Since when does beating Joe Lauzon and Jeremy Stephens merit a title shot? What a joke.
Brett Okamoto (1:17 PM)
He beat Ben Henderson though. So, there's a ton of interest in seeing that again. Plus it's the situation where he was promised one and then not given one. I know he lost it fair and square to Guida, but still. I don't think he should be above Diaz, I think those two should fight and then we'll know.
Eric (Westerly, RI)
What's the next matchup for Belcher? Outside of Diaz, thought he had the most impressive performance on the card.
Brett Okamoto (1:19 PM)
Maybe he gets the winner of Stann, Lombard? Either one of those two would be a fun fight stylistically. And unless Lombard blows Stann out of the water, those three are all in a situation where there's interest in them but they've still got to prove a little bit more ... so you figure out who the best of the three is by having them fight.
Can't wait to see the fights live again in AC. Are you leaning towards Guida or Gray in that main event?
Brett Okamoto (1:21 PM)
Gray, but might go back and forth on it. It's a five-rounder and Gray's endurance is a bit of a question mark ... especially fighting a guy who sets a pace like Guida. I know Guida lost to Henderson but I remember that fight actually being pretty close. Guida's hit a good spot in his career lately, you can't just count him out against the top guys like we used to.
Over/Under of 3 until JDS KO's Mir? Oh, that's minutes, not rounds.
Brett Okamoto (1:22 PM)
No faith in Mir? Anybody believe in Mir? I did a radio spot the other day and they claimed JDS opened at 8-to-1? Is that accurate? I give him more credit than that, come on.
With the ratings now out, who do you think should main event their next card in terms of star power? People are suggesting Ronda Rousey. While I very much the idea, wouldn't there be issues with SHO in terms of her contract?
Brett Okamoto (1:24 PM)
I think Stann, Lombard is a fine choice. Of course, I'm following the ratings the UFC is pulling but I'm not overly concerned about the numbers on Fox. They're going after a new audience. It's going to take time to build that fan base. I think they need to continue focusing on putting on good fights and hit one out of the park here and there by sacrificing a title fight. I'm not a genius businessman but I still think it wouldn't be a bad idea to put Jon Jones on one.
Fadi(Tustin) [via mobile]
Brett how impressed were you with Nate on Saturday? Seems he's destined to see UFC GOLD before his brother Nick. Remember that hot bottom debate?
Brett Okamoto (1:26 PM)
I do! And I argued both Diaz brothers would win a UFC title and I still like my chances on it. I was impressed with Nate obviously against Miller but we already knew Nate could do that. We don't know if he can handle a bigger guy like Ben Henderson who can take him down and control him without getting submitted. That's still the biggest question on Nate.
How'd you score the Koscheck-Hendricks fight?
Brett Okamoto (1:27 PM)
29-28 Hendricks. Thought he landed the harder shots, but that first round was close. If they had gone Koscheck, I wouldn't have argued too much.
rick,tx [via mobile]
Whens diaz coming off suspension ?Does he get rematch or shuffled back into deck,i think he was robbed!
Brett Okamoto (1:29 PM)
Things are still up in the air with Nick. We need to see what happens with his legal situation in Las Vegas. He's sued the Nevada Commission for basically taking too long to schedule a hearing for him ... personally I don't know how successful that filing will be. When he does finally come back, he'll get a fight that, should he win, would put him in a title shot. At least that's what I see happening.
Nate (Woburn, MA)
LaVarr Johnson was impressive this weekend. With the HW division being so bare, who do you think might be next for him?
Brett Okamoto (1:31 PM)
Stylistically, I was thinking him fighting Stipe Miocic would be a sweet fight. Maybe if Miocic wins later this month they'll make that one.
If Big Foot upsets Cain, and JDS takes care of Mir like he should, who would be next in line? Werdum if he wins? Not a lot of choices.
Brett Okamoto (1:32 PM)
If Big Foot did it with a knockout or a highlight reel-kind of finish, maybe they just fast forward him to the title. He's a scary looking guy. They can make a decent poster with him and JDS. I'd give it to him with a win over Cain before I'd give it to Werdum with a win over Russow.
Diaz/Miller lacked name recognition, but most fight fans were scheduling their evening around the boxing card, and not a whole lot of young male viewers are staying home on Cinco de Mayo anyway. Now, if Stann/Lombard gets terrible numbers, too, maybe the UFC will have to tweak how they book the Fox cards.
Brett Okamoto (1:33 PM)
Good points. I think the August card will do better numbers. Not all the way back up to what the first card did but it will beat the last one.
Do you think we will see Alsteriod Overeem after his 9 months and if so who does he fight?
Brett Okamoto (1:35 PM)
We'll definitely see him. The UFC will have a serious conversation with the guy but they won't cut him. Who does he fight? I would not be surprised if they threw him right back into a title fight. Interest in him will be high. The heavyweight division, as we just mentioned, doesn't have a long list of viable No. 1 contenders.
Brett!!! I heard a rumor that Ronda Rousey caused Cruz's injury. Is that true?
Brett Okamoto (1:35 PM)
Can't confirm that one for you, Ed. I talked to one of Cruz's coaches, all he told me was that it was a training accident. Very few details.
HoodieDM (In the basement)
Do you think the Barnet/Cormier winner fights next for the title or do you see them still having to face one/two more?
Brett Okamoto (1:37 PM)
Well, Dana has said the winner has to stay in Strikeforce for one more fight. And from what he's said, it sounds like they would sign an outside heavyweight as an opponent. Strange situation. Let's say ... Barnett wins. Then he fights one more time in Strikeforce, then he comes over? Not sure, but I think he'd have to fight someone else before getting an automatic title shot.
Dan (East Brunswick)
Can Jim Miller go down to 145? It seems as if he is maxed out as a 5-10 guy at lightweight. Nate looked bigger and longer.
Brett Okamoto (1:38 PM)
I asked him that after he fought Ben Henderson, (he looked small in that fight) and he basically said he doesn't think it's possible. He did it at the beginning of his career, but it's much harder to cut the weight later on and after you've competed at 155 for so long. I don't see it happening ... but maybe this last loss will force him to try.
Tommy (Denver, CO)
Rumor has it Eddie Alvarez is coming to the UFC and a potential fight against Pettis at 150...thoughts?
Brett Okamoto (1:41 PM)
He's got one fight left on his contract. Obviously, it'd be great to see that one fight come against Michael Chandler, but that likely won't happen with Bellator's tournament format. Dana and Lorenzo Fertitta definitely have interest in the guy. I would have to guess he's in the UFC by the end of this year.
If Bigfoot upsets Cain he will be next in line.... Werdun! cmon man thats ridiculous
Brett Okamoto (1:43 PM)
I tend to agree Silva should get it because a win over Cain is so tough to come by but Werdum would have a case. His only recent loss was to Overeem in a weird fight and he beat Big Foot in 2009.
With the plague of injuries to the champions, can't the UFC make immediate interms if you're out more than 9 mos? With the injured champ getting the immediate 1st shot? This waiting is getting old!
Brett Okamoto (1:45 PM)
Without a doubt, it sucks when the champ goes down. In reality though, I've never completely understood why fans get so angry. The matchups are basically the same, the only thing that changes is whether the belt is involved or not. And now that main events are 5 rounds, you still get the extra two rounds. Urijah, whether official or not, will basically serve as the champion if he wins until Cruz gets back, at which point they'll fight each other. It doesn't make a huge difference to me ...
I'm a huge fan of MMA and boxing, but putting a card against a Mayweather or Pac-Man fight is stupid. People want to say boxing is dead, but last weekend proved it isn't.
Brett Okamoto (1:47 PM)
The UFC isn't putting an MMA card against a boxing card though. You could have easily watched both. It'd be different if the UFC were putting on a PPV the same night as boxing, because that forces people to choose which one they're going to buy. But in this case, you could watch Fox and then tune in right to the Mosley/Canelo fight (which was the co-main for boxing that night). I don't think boxing had much to do with the poor UFC numbers this time around.
Do you think Travis Browne has what it takes to be a champ?
Brett Okamoto (1:49 PM)
It's tough to answer those questions sometimes because ... I mean, yeah he's quick for a heavyweight. He moves well. He hits hard. At some point he's got to beat a guy like JDS to become champ though, and it's tough to see that happening. So, does he have what it takes if everything falls into place for him? Yes. But is he a guy you point to and say, "That's a future champ," no, not for me. Plus, all the heavyweights should be getting mentally prepared for the addition of Jon Jones in 2013.
Probably makes a difference to have Faber with his advertisers to have a belt, even if interim only
Brett Okamoto (1:50 PM)
Exactly, when the champion is hurt, the point of an interim belt is to still have championship fights for marketing purposes. You can still tell people they're watching a title fight when technically, they're really not. That's all it is.
Just have to say I have 0 interest in seeing Werdum/dos Santos 2....people tend to forget how that first fight went
Brett Okamoto (1:51 PM)
Ha, that's a good point Joe. I don't think people forget how that fight went, it's just been long enough and then Werdum left the UFC that they forget it happened entirely. When you remind them, hey, those two fought already, it's like, oooohhhh yeah and Werdum was annihilated.
rick,tx [via mobile]
Howd u like the maywether fight.one more rd maybe a ko by maywether
Brett Okamoto (1:52 PM)
I loved it. Round 12 was one of the more impressive things I've seen in sports for awhile. Say what you want about Mayweather but that guy works harder than just about anybody in boxing. He turned it up another level late in the fight.
John (St. Petersburg)
Who do you like in the Roy Nelson/ Dave Herman fight?
Brett Okamoto (1:54 PM)
It's a fight Roy Nelson should win, but lately, it just seems like Roy doesn't know what kind of fighter he's trying to be. He had success walking down guys and throwing the right hand when he joined the UFC. Then he ran into some trouble against the bigger guys, changed some things up. In the Werdum fight, it was hard to determine what he was trying to do though. I'm leaning Roy but he's just looked bad lately, so, Herman could definitely take it.
Anik said he was going to try to make a chat cameo today...are you out there Chost???
Brett Okamoto (1:55 PM)
Did he? I've been meaning to hang out with Anik lately anyway. Maybe I can talk him into meeting up next week and we'll both answer questions.
My six year old started peewee wrestling this year. He says he wants to be in the UFC some day. My wife is not happy.
Brett Okamoto (1:57 PM)
Haha, oh man. I don't have any kids yet, will be interesting to see if they get into the UFC with me being around it every day. If he's gonna do it, wrestling is a good way to start him off. Wrestling can be a man's best defense.
Scott (Salt Lake City)
Did you get a chance to read Chaels book?
Brett Okamoto (1:58 PM)
I'm planning on it. Next time I'm on the road we'll give it a shot. He was at a dinner with me and a few other media members last week talking about it and I was like, this sounds good but not at all what I was expecting. Has anybody here read it?
Marc T (Phx)
No one (including me) is really giving Mir a shot but besides Cain (who clearly wasnt 100%) its JDS's toughest test.
Brett Okamoto (1:59 PM)
I'll agree with that. I give Mir a shot. He's dropping some weight, trying to add some speed back. We'll see.
imagine we go old school UFC 1 Style...Jon Jones, Anderson Silva, JDS and GSP in the Final Four....who wins?
Brett Okamoto (2:00 PM)
No shot to GSP, just because he's too small. What are the semis? Let's say GSP fights Anderson and loses. Silva fights JDS and wins. Then ... Anderson fights Jones and ... I don't know. Probably loses. I honestly don't know who I'd pick in a Silva/Jones fight.
JP (Columbus, OH)
I find it interesting that after PacMan struggled against an elite fighter, the narrative was that PacMan is slipping. Yet the Mayweather narrative seems to be that Money decided to take it to a new level in the final 4 rounds. Haven't heard much talk of Mayweather slipping, despite being 35 yrs old. Interesting.
Brett Okamoto (2:02 PM)
Really? I've heard that take on Mayweather after the fight. I think what it was, was that Mayweather found a way to win and turn it on late and that was amazing BUT he doesn't move like he used to. His game is definitely changing. Go back and watch him fight a bigger guy like Diego Corrales back in the day then compare it to him now. He's far less active. I think he's slowly starting to lose a step, but he's adjusting his game and still competing at the same level despite it. I never thought Pacquiao was slipping I just think he's always had a problem with Marquez's style.
Jeff (Salt Lake City)
The UFC should invest in contracting the HBO producers of their 24/7 shows for the UFC Primetime shows. Those 24/7 shows are amazing. That might help the UFC ratings a bit.
Brett Okamoto (2:03 PM)
Agree with you there. UFC is trying to go for that style but 24/7 is still in another league. Those docs are awesome.
So in a 4 person tourny Silva ends up fight in both semis and Jones skates to the finals? You had GSP over Anderson and Silva over JDS...tough road for one guy. Ha
Brett Okamoto (2:03 PM)
Ha sorry, meant to say Jones over JDS.
John (St. Petersburg)
Who do you like in the Dolloway/ Miller fight? Seems like a great matchup for CB
Brett Okamoto (2:05 PM)
Yeah, could be a good ground fight. Dolloway seems a little stronger, might be able to control positions more. I'm with you, I'd lean him to take the fight.
HoodieDM (In the basement)
Not sure how you could pick Jones over JDS...JDS crushes any non elite boxer. Which Jones is not, just lengthy and unorthodox.
Brett Okamoto (2:07 PM)
Jones could keep him at a distance with his kicks, not worry at all about a takedown. If he puts on mass, I think he'd be able to cut off the cage even against a guy as athletic as Junior and force him to fight backwards and off the cage. If it goes to the ground, think Jones would have a huge advantage.
In terms of marketing strategy do you see the UFC changing their stances at any point? They seem to think that their brand power alone is good enough but clearly with those ratings people care about star power. They released few promo material for Jones prior to UFC 145. Should the UFC try to promote some of their better fighters more?
Brett Okamoto (2:10 PM)
The UFC definitely relies on its brand but I don't think they shy away from star power at all. With the Jones fight, they basically put a promo for Jon Jones if you saw it. People were saying, did I just see a commercial for Jon Jones? I think they're doing things right, by having Nate Diaz fight on Fox you're hopefully building interest in his title fight down the road on PPV, too. It's a process. They're building more stars than boxing is. Boxing has bigger stars but not nearly as many.
Brett Okamoto (2:12 PM)
Alright guys, let's end it on that one. Thanks for the questions as always. We'll see you again in 7 days.