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)
Happy Wednesday guys and thanks for stopping by for another MMA chat. Plenty of fights to talk about this weekend. More injuries of course since the last time we talked but nothing too, too major. I love watching Big Nog but actually I'm in to this Shawn Jordan, Cheick Kongo remake at 149. Then again, I'm usually an optimist. I'm sure most were disappointed ... that card and 147 both really fell apart. Don't worry, injuries can't keep going like this forever (see? optimist.)
Brett, Me and my buddy scored us some UFC 150 tickets. Im so hyped! Only a 9 hour drive to finally get to watch my man Benson in person! I love the 2 new fights they just added to. Okami vs Palhares and Lawrence vs Max H. gives it some much needed depth. PLEASE NO INJURIES! Any news on any other fights they might be adding? Are you or Chuck gonna be there? Id love to get to meet you guys.
Brett Okamoto (1:05 PM)
Congrats man that's great. I don't have a fight announcement for you but I will say Denver is a great place to catch a card. As many of you know I'm from that area originally, love Colorado. Crowd was great at Jones/Rampage last year. No travel is booked yet, I'd say real good shot though I'll be there.
Manuel (Costa Rica)
Hey Moto!!! what are the chances for Cain fighting for the tittle against Cigano on his next fight? and who do you think would win that fight? saludos desde Costa Rica!!!!!
Brett Okamoto (1:07 PM)
Chances are superb he'll fight JDS in his next fight. Dana has stated the UFC hopes to hold that fight at 152 in Toronto. As far as his chances, I think the only guys who can beat JDS right now are Cain or Alistair. It's a weird situation because even though we saw the Cain/JDS matchup, I really do basically throw it out because it was so short and Cain got caught. Can Cain take him down? We honestly still don't know because he never really tried in that fight and it came out later that neither one of them were 100 percent. I'd still give JDS an edge but it's not like it's a sure thing for him.
Bryan (Maryland) [via mobile]
With fighters using testosterone as prescription, do you think the UFC had to come out and make a strong statement on its drug screening policies? Also, how many more fights does rory McDonald need before he challenges for the belt. Is GSP going to be in his way? Considering they are buddies.
Brett Okamoto (1:09 PM)
The UFC doesn't seem to concerned about a higher percentage of its fighters getting on testosterone replacement therapy. I think they view it as, that's the job of the commission. And in some ways, I agree with them. These commissions can't say they're taking a hard stance on TRT and then approve it for anyone who wants it. They need to look deeper into why these guys need it and gather more evidence than simply having a fighter sit down in front of them and say, I felt tired. I had low T. I need this. It's kind of become a rubber stamp thing in my opinion.
Brett Okamoto (1:11 PM)
And as far as Rory, he is right there. He passes the eye test no problem. Get him a few more big wins in high profile situations (ex. B.J. Penn in Canada on the main card of a JDS/Cain headliner) and he's there. He and Georges have basically said they wouldn't fight one another. We've heard that before. I think it's possible they'd fight, we'd have to wait and see.
If you have to pick which one fighter's technique/style is better than any others, which has your top rank? ex. JDS' boxing, GSP's athleticism etc.
Brett Okamoto (1:12 PM)
Hmmm, that's a tough question to answer because guys obviously have their own styles and while they do have strengths, it's a mix of a lot of things that make them great. I guess I would have to say GSP's athleticism and wrestling though. It's just impossible to deal with. I think Jon Jones still leaves himself open at times and we've seen Anderson Silva can get taken down. GSP just grinds guys. It's not always fun to watch but he's basically never in trouble or danger. It's dominant.
Scott (Salt Lake City)
Is red ink going to be coming out for the 2 cards this weekend?
Brett Okamoto (1:14 PM)
A one-fight edition is out this morning on the main page. I don't think it's labeled Red Ink for whatever reason, but it's up and it's on the Guida/Maynard fight. I wrote one up for Swanson/Pearson but due to formatting issues we didn't use it. I picked Swanson by the way, and if you guys have followed me for awhile you know I'm high on Pearson. I think Swanson can take it though and he's got real good odds on him.
What are your thoughts on Rich Franklin potentially making another middleweight title run?
Brett Okamoto (1:16 PM)
I think it's very much a long shot. I'm not 100 percent convinced he'll beat Wand this weekend. Consider that Rich beat Wand in a close fight in 2009, got knocked out by Belfort in 3 minutes, then knocked out a chinless Chuck Liddell after actually probably losing most of the first round, then lost a UD to Forrest Griffin. Then took a year off due to injury. There's nothing there that suggests to me he can go on a title run. I hate to put it so frankly because Rich has been a great fighter, but there's pretty much no way he gets back into the title picture.
C.Mindenhall has some good points regarding the lightweight division in his recent article. Do you think Guida/Maynard winner gets Diaz?
Brett Okamoto (1:18 PM)
They both do have a win over Diaz, which is interesting. A lot of it could hinge on Diaz, I guess. If he resists the idea of fighting one of those guys, I don't think the UFC would push him TOO hard on it because it's not like that would be some blockbuster fight they'd really, really want. If I had to guess, I think he'll wait.
Nasty Nate (Sing-Sing)
Tough to get excited for upcoming cards when you know that 1/3 of the fights will be different by the time the event rolls around. Is there anything the UFC to prevent injuries from wrecking good cards?
Brett Okamoto (1:20 PM)
If there is, I honestly dont' really know what. These guys aren't at shootarounds on a basketball court, they're in potential injury spots all the time. And the sport has gotten to the point where if you let up on your training, you're giving your opponent an advantage. I think what we're seeing is simply that "fighting" is an activity that comes with injury and now that the level of it has stepped up, this is what we're dealing with. I think injury rates will be higher, obviously, than they were 5-10 years ago but I don't think we'll see a permanent stretch like the one we're going through right now.
What fight you most looking forward to this weekend?
Brett Okamoto (1:21 PM)
I really like the FX main event, but if I could only watch one I'm watching Cub Swanson vs. Ross Pearson. Really like both of these guys, think it will be an action fight.
Yo! With the Manny-Bradley fight fresh in people's minds, how much momentum is the idea of having more than 3 judges score fights gaining? I think its a great idea and an VERY easy fix. It rings true everywhere, get a larger sample size and you're more likely to get accurate representation of whatever it is you are looking at...Make it happen, Moto!!!
Brett Okamoto (1:23 PM)
I don't know Trevor ... it's not a terrible idea ... I'm still from the mindset and I've been like this a long time ... judging is not THAT bad ... people make a big deal about it sometimes when a fight could go either way. Every now and then there is a head-scratching absolutely terrible decision and in those circumstances, there has to be better evaluation from the commissions and they can't be afraid to say, hey, this was screwed up. You've got a warning. Another decision like that from left field and we'll have to let you go. These judges have to be held accountable for decisions that make absolutely no sense.
Is there any reason to watch this Saturday because clearly it's not for the main event.
Brett Okamoto (1:25 PM)
Not gonna lie to you, if you're going to pick a UFC event to skip this year I'd agree 147 is a pretty easy call. I'd check out the prelims on FX though, why not? There was some talent on TUF Brazil, I think those fights will deliver and it's free.
Have you had any training in combat sports?
Brett Okamoto (1:25 PM)
Done some boxing, that's it.
Ryan (Columbus, OH)
Is the UFC worried about UFC 147. With only two fights on the entire card having fighters that are recognizable I can't believe it will sell well. In all honesty I am much more excited about the free UFC on FX card the day before.
Brett Okamoto (1:26 PM)
The UFC has realistic expectations on 147. Remember they didn't plan it this way, it was supposed to be the biggest card in the promotion's history. Just gotta swallow this one.
Jeff (Salt Lake City)
Who are you taking in the Guida/Maynard fight?
Brett Okamoto (1:27 PM)
Think Gray will win it. See it being mostly a standup fight. Hoping Gray didn't balloon to like 185 pounds in between camps like he's known to do and that his cardio is better. Guida is underrated by many but I don't think he'll be able to take it to the ground and on the feet, he's gonna get blasted in those exchanges and take much more damage than Gray.
Any idea or interest on who UFC gives Rampage for his farewell fight?
Brett Okamoto (1:28 PM)
By the time the fight gets here, I guess I'll be kind of interested because it is Rampage, he's had a great career and he's always entertaining to talk to. But right now, no. I'm not real interested in Rampage.
JDS said he doesn't think that Alistair deserves a title shot immediately after his return. What is your gut feeling as to his first fight back?
Brett Okamoto (1:29 PM)
My gut feeling is he's fighting for the belt in his first fight back. I'd set odds on that at like 2-to-1 favorite he's in a title fight. Maybe 3-to-1.
The free card on Friday is more interesting then the $60 card on Saturday, no?
Brett Okamoto (1:29 PM)
Yes, I agree.
Just how big of an upset would BJ beating Rory be? Especially in his home country...And does that put him back in the top 5 of welterweight contenders?
Brett Okamoto (1:32 PM)
It would be a huge, massive upset Laura. I don't think a lot of people understand how BIG Rory is for a welterweight. This guy is enormous. BJ is very crafty, remember how he took Jon Fitch down in the opening minute of their fight in Australia, but I just can't see any way BJ defends the takedown in this fight. Which means, Rory can get it on the ground and smother him any time he wants. You add in BJ's lack of cardio? It should be all Rory. If Rory gets cocky and lets his guard down and BJ clips him ... that's the only way I see BJ winning. If he pulled it off, he'd be near the top 10. He'd have to win one more major fight to get a shot and even then, if GSP is still there, it's kind of a tough sell but doable.
Any idea what the turnaround time would be like for Anderson should he beat Chael? Is he looking to fight again relatively soon since he's been out for so long?
Brett Okamoto (1:34 PM)
Ya know, I haven't heard anything on that. In my mind, I keep thinking back to Dana saying something about a massive card in January and if you're going to have a massive card, I think you put AS on there every time. Either way, my guess is this is Silva's only fight in 2012.
Billy (West Michigan)
The Shogun/Vera move to headline ufc on fox 4 has been pretty unpopular. Play matchmaker, what fight would you make or move from another card to headline instead?
Brett Okamoto (1:36 PM)
I've always thought they should just eat a PPV and put Jon Jones on Fox. This is the guy who embodies everything you want people to associate with MMA (excluding the recent DUI). He's a top athlete, charismatic, star power and he's one of the most entertaining guys in your company. We saw in Diaz/Miller that even if you have a great style matchup, if the names don't resonate people won't tune in. So forfeit one lucrative night of PPV to have him on Fox and show that audience what this sport can look like. That's my opinion.
Any word on how JBJ is handling his DWI situation? He's been pretty silent on Twitter. I'm used to seeing him everywhere!
Brett Okamoto (1:38 PM)
JBJ cares very much about his image. We've seen in spots like this in the past that silence can be the best defense. People kind of just forget, really. I wouldn't be surprised if the UFC or Jon's people try to make it known to media when he fights next he doesn't want to answer questions about the DUI. He'll still have to, but they might try to put up an early barrier that says, he's not willing to talk about it. In terms of how he'll handle it career-wise, I honestly don't see this affecting him negatively at all in the long run.
Does Rich Franklin make the HOF based on his fighting and being a company man?
Brett Okamoto (1:41 PM)
Yeah, I would imagine so.
Can we just give Franklin a complementary 190lb. championship belt on Saturday? He is certainly a company man.
Brett Okamoto (1:42 PM)
Franklin is a company man. Then again though, most UFC fighters are company men. Who wouldn't have stepped in to fight an aging Wanderlei in a headlining opportunity at this point in their career? It was a mutually good opportunity for Rich and the UFC.
Dave Y (Chicago)
Hey Brett, what are your thoughts on TUF brazil, the fighters, and the finale coming up?
Brett Okamoto (1:44 PM)
I didn't see every episode but I think it's the right move to take TUF into other countries and see if it can have the effect it had here in the States. The talent was good. I think Belfort's protoge Cezar Mutante will win the middleweight but he's in trouble once he gets to the UFC. He doesn't set up punches very well and he's wild and easy to hit. That's something you can improve on, he better do it quick. I think Rony "Jason" Bezerra will win the featherweight and he looks real solid. Could make some noise as soon as he comes in.
who's next for michael mcdonald? Loser of Faber/Barao?
Brett Okamoto (1:46 PM)
I don't think so. Especially if it was Faber, you wouldn't risk McDonald losing to Faber at that point. I thought Brad Pickett could have been an option but he's got a fight. If anything they'd give him the WINNER of Faber/Baro in an interim title fight if Cruz still isn't ready.
Wanna give us your picks for 147?
Brett Okamoto (1:47 PM)
I'll go ... Alcantara, Werdum, Bezerra, Ferreira and .......... what the heck, I'll go Wanderlei.
Brett Okamoto (1:48 PM)
Definitely. I help out on the boxing page during big Las Vegas fights and/or slow MMA weeks.
Good Afternoon Brett, how well will Hector Lombard do in the UFC.
Brett Okamoto (1:49 PM)
I think he'll be successful. I think he'll beat Tim Boestch although I wouldn't be shocked to see Boetsch win. Boetsch is no slouch. Will he vie for a title? Right now, I say no, he'll get up there but then hit a road bump against one of the other top guys.
Kristian (NY, NY)
Where does Tito rank in your all-time LHW?
Brett Okamoto (1:50 PM)
For sure Top 3 ....
Over/under on 150K PPV buys for Silva-Franklin II?
Brett Okamoto (1:50 PM)
Bleh, I really don't have a guess for the numbers on this one ... under.
If Cain and Junior run it back and the result is the same, and Alistair doesn't get the title fight in his first fight back, who does Junior fight then?
Brett Okamoto (1:51 PM)
Brett Okamoto (1:51 PM)
Make those odds on Alistair fighting for the belt in his first fight back 3-to-1.
Help me out here why to most top 10 ranking have at least one fighter rank too high including espn, why is Vitor ranked so high when he hasn't fought much less beaten anyone on the top 10 list except the champ who knocked him out with no problem and how is Alexander Gustafsson ranked higher than phil Davis who choked him out in round 1 when they fought and how is Rory MacDonald rank high on the list when the only guy he fought on the list is condit who basically broke his face, he hasn't even fought anyone else who is close to top 10
Brett Okamoto (1:55 PM)
I won't go into all those scenarios but generally, just because Fighter A beats Fighter B doesn't mean he should then be forever ranked above him. In some cases, at least this is how I view my rankings, you have to go with your observations over simply records. Like in the case of Vitor, I agree he hasn't beat a ton of really terrific guys, but he blew through guys like Rich, Akiyama and Anthony Johnson in the first round. I think he'd be too much for a guy like say, Luke Rockhold, even though if you only look at W and L, beating Jacare is probably more impressive than beating any of the guys I just mentioned for Belfort. Rankings are always going to be up for debate man, that's just how it is.
Da Biz (NorCali)
Do you think Tito Ortiz in his prime could hold his own with JBJ? I'm leaning towards NOPE!
Brett Okamoto (1:55 PM)
JBJ finishes an in-his-prime Ortiz 10 times out of 10.
Do you remember the biggest upset you ever predicted correctly?
Brett Okamoto (1:57 PM)
There's got to be one out there. I was adamant Nate Diaz would beat Donald Cerrone and everybody gave me a hard time before that one. I picked Josh Thomson over Gilbert Melendez in this last fight and I actually thought he won but the judges didn't so, not quite. Those are two recent ones that come to mind.
Rusty D (Denver, CO)
Do you happen to know why the UFC seems to have an aversion to putting Denver guys on Denver cards? I mean I know Benson was born here and Ed Herman fights out of FoCo...but what about guys like Bang or Schaub? They seem to pack other cards with hometown guys except when it comes to Denver...
Brett Okamoto (1:58 PM)
Duane and Brendan fought on a card in Broomfield I thought, right? When Jon Jones beat Brandon Vera at the 1st Bank Center or whatever it's called? Ed Herman has a gym set up in Fort Collins.
Adam (North Dakota)
What happens after Sonnen shuts Silva up?
Brett Okamoto (1:59 PM)
Well, first of all I don't think you can phrase it like, "Sonnen shutting up Silva" If Sonnen wins, fine, but shutting Silva up? One has to talk before one can be shut up. I'm giving Sonnen a chance in the fight though, more so than most people I've talked to. I would guess either Silva retires or they make an immediate rematch. That would be the only two scenarios in my mind.
Going to watch my first Muay Thai event next Saturday in St Petersburg, FL, what will be the biggest difference than watching MMA on TV?
Brett Okamoto (2:00 PM)
Muay Thai events are a good time, I went to my first all MT card last year here in Nevada. Differences of watching on TV, you get to hear everything, especially on a small card. You can hear corners, the fighters even if they say anything, referee, drunken fan. The audio you get when you're at a live event is great.
If the UFC was trying to make a massive card similar to UFC 100 what fights would you expect? There would have to be multiple Title fights and major names. And wouldn't Cowboys stadium be perfect for that
Brett Okamoto (2:02 PM)
Yeah Cowboys stadium would be awesome. I was there for the first boxing event they did, Pacquiao/Clottey which had something like 50k in attendance if I remember right? It was spectacular. They would do multiple title fights and I'm thinking they would do some kind of super fight like a JJ vs. AS or AS vs. GSP, plus whatever title fight happened to line up. Plus a nostalgic, blast from the past like Tito/Forrest does for 148.
timothy davis (los angeles)
this may seem like an odd model for a pro sport, but do you think the ufc would benefit from a wwe-style schedule, i.e., 4 huge ppv's scheduled around the same time every year, with smaller cards throughout the year? you could put your boldface names on the big cards & up
Brett Okamoto (2:03 PM)
No, I don't think so. What consumers don't understand is that the UFC is still raking in tons of money on these PPV's. A PPV doesn't have to murder the numbers for it to be profitable. I don't think we'll see the UFC move away from PPV any time soon ... if ever.
B.J.Penn is NEVER going to beat GSP just like Rich Franklin is NEVER going to beat A.Silva. Penn and Franklin are great fighters, but people need to realize that they were dominated by those two champs.
Brett Okamoto (2:04 PM)
I agree. Only thing I want to point out though is so what if BJ Penn can never beat GSP? He's a lightweight. BJ Penn is a lightweight he just refuses to be one most of the time.
Is GSP really going to be healthy by Nov? Kamppman and Hendricks have been pretty vocal on getting Condit ASAP.
Brett Okamoto (2:05 PM)
You hear something different all the time. I saw and spoke to GSP a couple times after the surgery in Japan at 144 then back in Vegas at 146 I think, he was looking good and his statements made it sound like although he wouldn't rush back, things were progressing very well. End of the day, Condit will continue to wait, as he should. The Hendricks/Kampmann fight makes sense to go ahead and run with while GSP is out.
Scott (Salt Lake City)
What do you think about Hardy V Sadollah?
Brett Okamoto (2:06 PM)
Hard to ever get super psyched about an Amir Sadollah fight. If Hardy has improved as much as I suspect, he should beat him for the Nottingham crowd.
Do u believe Sho gun turned down a fight with Glover?? Also if you believe it is so , is it because Sho gun believe at this point in his career that Glover woiuld just freight train him in the first round?
Brett Okamoto (2:08 PM)
Well yeah, Shogun has came out and said he turned it down. I just think it's not a good business move on his part to take a fight against a beastly prospect that no one knows. If Glover catches him and finishes him, that's a backbreaker to Shogun's career. And if Shogun wins, most people are like, well, who the heck was this Glover Teixeira guy anyway? He waited it out and now he has the man formerly known as Brandon Vera in a headliner on a Fox event. Good business move.
Any word on Barnett making up with Dana or is he forever exiled now that he lost to Cormier?
Brett Okamoto (2:08 PM)
Haven't heard anything lately but I believe we'll see Barnett back in the UFC once he's done with SF.
How much longer does Spider Silva have?
Brett Okamoto (2:09 PM)
Rumor is not too much longer. I asked Mark Munoz about that when I was in California for the last Strikeforce card and he said, "I'll plead the fifth." He then went on to say if Silva retires, why wouldn't he? He's done everything you can do. I think the rumors are real that he's at least considering the end, but I'd be surprised to see him walk away after this fight.
How is Belfort not in the UFC hall of fame yet?? He has been around since UFC 12 i believe, a former Champion and an exciting fighter to watch every time he enters the cage
Brett Okamoto (2:10 PM)
I think he'll be there when he retires.
What's your opinion of Cung Le's chance of success in the octagon? 5 total fights or he won't get to that point? Very dynamic fighter, but not so well rounded...agree?
Brett Okamoto (2:12 PM)
Yeah, I don't know ... He's 40. He's at a point where you probably wouldn't give him a no-namer, meaning he's fighting relatively good competition every time. He is legit, he's no fake, but I don't think he'll hold up if they consistently give him tough guys every time out. I'd say three to five is a good guess.
Dave Y (Chicago)
When do you think we'll see AO next? Early 2013? Do you think he can ever get on Dana's good graces again? Seems weird to be that if you want to promote such a great money maker like AO, you dont want to have your president and CEO have differing personal thoughts on him?..
Brett Okamoto (2:14 PM)
AO will be back in Dana's good graces once he comes back and fights a few times and doesn't fail any more drug tests. He really is a likeable guy, but I'd be angry too if I sat there and told someone like a little kid, "Hey Alistair, there is a damn, damn good chance they will drug test you while you're in Las Vegas this week. Are you clean?" The guy says yes, then fails. Yeah, I'd be angry. All will be forgiven though if he comes back, is clean and still has that Alistair charm.
Any idea who Mark Hunt returns against and when?
Brett Okamoto (2:15 PM)
Hmmm, I'm trying to remember how long they said he'd be out for. It wasn't supposed to be a terribly long layoff right? Kind of depends on what happens between then and now. Maybe winner of Stipe and Stefan?
Does Phil Davis have to destroy Wagner Prado to be taken seriously in the LH division? Would we ever get another Davis-Gustafsson matchup?
Brett Okamoto (2:17 PM)
I mean, "ever" is a very long time but right now, there's no reason to make that fight and they became teammates at Alliance after that first fight. I wouldn't say Phil Davis has to destroy anyone to be taken seriously. We take him seriously, we just say, he wasn't ready for Rashad Evans. At this point, I just want to see visible improvement from Phil every time he comes out.
What's next for Fitch? He's been calling out BJ again, but that rematch is not happening anytime soon, if ever.
Brett Okamoto (2:18 PM)
He was supposed to fight in July but got injured. He's fallen down the ranks with the loss and the inactivity. He'll have to string together a win streak and maybe start getting mentioned around the title again at the end of 2013.
What is next for Pat Berry?
Brett Okamoto (2:20 PM)
A live or die fight against a heavyweight you've probably never heard of. Coming to a UFC card this December.
I know you are picking Verdum, but is it a good idea to bet on Mike R. 5 to 1 odds is significant and with his wrestling you always have a shot, right?
Brett Okamoto (2:20 PM)
5-to-1? I guess I'd take a small shot on him at 5-to-1.
Kevin (Mile High)
So if Tito is top 3 LHW, who are your ohter 2? Bones and Chuck?
Brett Okamoto (2:21 PM)
Yeah, I'd probably have to go Chuck No. 1 then Tito No. 2. Are we ranking like in terms of significance and the career they put together? Jones would demolish both but the game isn't the same today.
Rumble looked sluggish during his last fight (forget the organization but it was on HDNet). Would you be surprised to see him back in the UFC sometime in 2013? Weight issues be damned I like seeing him fight.
Brett Okamoto (2:23 PM)
If I'm not mistaken, he missed weight for that Titan fight AGAIN didn't he? That was the primary reason he got cut. This guy is nowhere near to resigning with the UFC right now until he can figure out how to make weight.
Speaking of great upset picks, how bout ESPN's Dan Rafael picking Tim Bradley to decision Manny Pacquiao? Haha, hey it still counts, right?!
Brett Okamoto (2:23 PM)
It does count, but I doubt he's bragging much about it.
Brett Okamoto (2:25 PM)
Alright guys, let's wrap it there. Enjoy the fights this weekend. I know no one is feeling 147 and I don't blame you but I will say I'll be watching (it is my job, yes) but also because I am interested to see what Wand looks like. I watched him at 139 in person and he took shots from Cung Le in that fight that suggested to me maybe the talk of his chin was slightly exaggerated. There's no question it's starting to go, but maybe the Leben knockout wasn't totally due simply to Wand's chin. I try not to root for fighters but I'd like to see him do well enough to get another fight and not be forced into retirement. Have a good rest of the week!