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!
Nick (Perth (OZ) )
Hi Brett, always enjoy reading the chats with you and Chuck. I get the impression that "friends fighting / not fighting team mates" is going to become an issue again and will continue to be. Of the following can you any of them fighting or can you you see excuses / difficulties (thus angering Dana). T J Dillshaw, Benavidez, Uriah (in fact all the TAM guys), Cain / Cornier, GSP / Rory, Barao / Aldo, Koscheck / Fitch? As a matchup I would love to see Cain / DC probably the most but wouldnt know who to barrack for.
Brett Okamoto (1:06 PM)
Interesting question Nick. The "friend" thing is always going to pop up in this sport ... regarding the ones you laid out .... Alpha Male I don't see it being an issue. TJ and Urijah are 135, Joe B is 125. I can't see any scenario really in the next year/two years that would absolutely force TJ and Urijah to fight. Cain/Cormier, as you said probably the most intriguing, I've gotta say probably never happens. GSP/Rory I could see fighting. Barao/Aldo, won't come up. No reason for Barao to move in weight even if he loses Saturday and if Aldo ever moves it would be up. Koscheck/Fitch could happen now that Josh left AKA, but similar to TJ/Urijah, can't really see a scenario where it only makes sense for these two to fight one another, so I'll guess it doesn't happen.
Favorite 2 mma fights of all time?
Brett Okamoto (1:07 PM)
Well, my favorite fights are always going to be the ones I was at live just because I got to take it in in person ... so with that in mind ... Shogun/Hendo is tops. Runner-up would have to be drawn from a list of Guida/Sanchez, Couture/BigNog, Leben/Akiyama ... probably another candidate exists but those are the three that come to mind.
Decammy (Los Angeles, CA)
Sup Bret how was your WWE experience as an adult and how was the crowd like compare to a UFC event? I've never been to a live UFC event only to a WWE live event and I tell you it's strange seeing grown men chanting popular wrestling words out loud and no I'm not one of them. lol
Brett Okamoto (1:10 PM)
Okay for those who didn't see my tweet, Todd Grisham (former WWE man, now ESPN anchor) hooked me up with Raw tickets on Monday. First time I went to a WWE event since like the early 90s when I was six. It's weird you summarized it up like you did Decammy, because seriously, I wasn't expecting the crowd to be SO into it. I guess I should have known it was gonna be like that, but they were in an absolute frenzy every time someone came out. Gotta admit, it's not my thing, but I'm glad I went. Was disappointed main event came down to a DQ.
chris [via mobile]
Gsp vs Anderson Silva ever gonna happen
Brett Okamoto (1:10 PM)
I'm gonna say ... 70 percent it doesn't, 30 percent it does. If it does, let's throw out February 2014 as the date.
Even w/ a rather shallow bantamweight division, ss this the last chance for a title for Faber - as he is 0-4 in his last 4 title fights?
Brett Okamoto (1:12 PM)
The only reason I'd say no is because Urijah looks like he's still got a lot left in the tank. If he loses, but wins 5 of his next 6 or whatever, it's just tough to totally eliminate a guy from title contention. It's definitely possible though.
Colin (Ft Lauderdale)
Who wins Lombard or Boetsch
Brett Okamoto (1:13 PM)
Think Lombard's athleticism is too much for Boetsch. By the way, betting preview, Red Ink, is all yours on ESPN MMA homepage. Urijah is a decent underdog and 5 of 6 ESPN writers picked him to win. Could be some good value on the California Kid.
Interested to see the debut of Ryan Jimmo this weekend. You think he can stay on his feet against Perosh and avoid the submissions?
Brett Okamoto (1:14 PM)
That's a good eye Kid, one of the better prelim fights on the card. Both guys have a lot of momentum going. I'm picking Perosh to win but Jimmo isn't a bad guy to keep an eye on heading into his first UFC fight.
What do you like better: Cards that have a killer main event but not much else or a weak main event but is top to bottom pretty deep?
Brett Okamoto (1:15 PM)
Hmmm, ya know ... I think I like the cards with the killer main event. Energy is always biggest around those cards.
I didn't get to see Kennedy/Rockhold, but heard it was academic/what most of the analysts expected. I'm a big TK fan, so that was tough to hear. Where does each go from here?
Brett Okamoto (1:17 PM)
Yeah, TK somewhat employed the Carlos Condit/Clay Guida game plan a bit. He was in the middle of those, where Condit pulled it off effectively, Guida ran too much, TK was somewhere in between. At some point, you have to take some risks and go for it and I didn't believe Kennedy ever really did that. I'm not against these stick and move strategies, but if you're behind on the scorecards you've gotta change it up. Rockhold is a big time prospect in my eyes, but not ready for AS. Kennedy's stock takes a fairly significant hit.
Chris (Largo, FL)
So can we finally say that Anderson Silva is the best MMA fighter ever?
Brett Okamoto (1:17 PM)
I've been saying that for awhile now.
Ultimate Warrior (Parts Unknown)
Assuming Lombard wins (say by 1st rd KO), who gets Silva next? Lombard or Weidman?
Brett Okamoto (1:19 PM)
Definitely Lombard, especially if it's a 1st rd KO. And I'm really okay with that. At the end of the day, I think Weidman's style is better suited to beat Silva, but him getting more experience before that fight happens isn't a bad thing. I want to see Silva fight the best Weidman possible and I don't think he's quite peaked yet. Give him a little more time.
Marc T (Phx)
IS GSP/COndit and Hendricks/Kampman still on for Nov?
Brett Okamoto (1:20 PM)
That's the plan. Hope for no injuries.
What up Ninja? Does Carwin & Nelson tickle your fancy as TUF coaches? Wouldn't Griffin
Brett Okamoto (1:21 PM)
I'll be real with you ... Carwin and Nelson do not tickle my fancy as TUF coaches. I'm not like incredibly disappointed or anything, but I don't think they'll mesh well in terms of great TV or in terms of a spectacular fight. I'll watch, but I'm not counting down the days or anything.
Hey Brett,I thought Nate looked great at 170, will he make waves? Will the UFC come calling soon? Is the division too stacked?
Brett Okamoto (1:23 PM)
Nate will remain in Strikeforce for now. I agree, he looked good. I give props to Tyron Woodley for hanging in there ... but minus the start of the fight and a few spurts here and there, I think he stood along the fence and was kind of an easy target for Marquardt. Chalk that up to Marquardt's experience level though. In any case, I do see Marquardt hanging on to the SF title against any one they've got to throw at him.
who wins this weekend?
Brett Okamoto (1:25 PM)
Our staff picks are up at ESPN, so check those out to see which direction we all went. Main card, I'm going Matt Riddle, Chris Clements, Shawn Jordan, Hector Lombard and Urijah Faber. I had a terrible showing at 148, think I've got a 5-for-5 lineup on this one.
Marc T (Phx)
Whats the latest w/ Cain/JDS?? HW division in general has been quiet since the all heavy pay per view.
Brett Okamoto (1:26 PM)
Nothing official yet, but I haven't heard anything that suggests we won't see it before the end of the year.
What do you see next for A Gustaffson? Most of the LHVWTs are tied up already, and I think Gus should only need 1 more win for a title shot. Maybe Dana feeds Forrest to him, after the stuff Forrest pulled at 148.
Brett Okamoto (1:28 PM)
Yeah it's been kind of a bummer ... Gus ran his stock up with that win over Thiago Silva and then ... nothing. I think he's ready to go and they'll book him to something once the summer is over. Maybe if the winner of Machida/Bader comes out unscathed, they announce that fight at the press conference.
Any chance Rampage actually gets motivated & goes out with a more vintage performance against Glover?
Brett Okamoto (1:28 PM)
I'm guessing no.
What are the chances of Weidman facing Silva and Lombard/Boetsch winner vs Stann/Bisping winner for number 1 contendor?
Brett Okamoto (1:29 PM)
That's possible if, A. Boetsch wins or B. Lombard wins but isn't all that impressive in doing so. As great as Weidman is, he's not yet a marketable opponent for Anderson Silva. The casual fans don't quite know him yet. I'm really expecting it to be Lombard/Silva.
James (Wise, NC)
Whats your reaction to Mir losing to Dos Santos
Brett Okamoto (1:30 PM)
Not terribly shocked. Mir just doesn't have the speed to compete with JDS. Few do.
Is 149 the most injury-effected card ever?
Brett Okamoto (1:31 PM)
I haven't sat down and done an official tally or anything, but the only card that comes to mind that was this plagued with injury was UFC 108.
Any guesses on Cormier's final Strikeforce opponent in September?
Brett Okamoto (1:32 PM)
Honestly, no. It's a good question ... Dana has always made it sound like, to me, that it won't be a UFC guy. It's going to be a guy they most likely sign to a one-fight deal. Looking around, I don't see any heavies that stand out and get me excited to fight DC.
Nick (Perth (OZ) )
Continuing on the friends theme, Obviously Bones and Rashad were friends but fell out resulting in a ?grudge match?. At this stage it?s being made pretty clear that Anderson and Bones have too much respect for each other to fight whilst to be honest, I think it?s a fight that Anderson would struggle to win and a loss would seriously damage his legacy. I hope it doesn?t happen but I suppose what I?m asking is can you see a repeat of the fallout (I know they?re with different camps) forcing (almost unwillingly) a fight / event bigger than Sonnen / Silva 2.
Brett Okamoto (1:35 PM)
No, the two circumstances are completely different. This new bromance between Jones and Anderson isn't really a buddy-buddy thing, I just think they both realize what Jon said in an interview later, they both have something to lose if they fight one another. They respect each other's skills. I don't know ... I wish they'd knock it off and just fight each other because I disagree, I don't think a loss to Jones would seriously damage Silva's legacy. And if you're Jones, why not want this fight? Beat a legend, rake a whole lot of money while doing it ... it's got to be a matchup he's at least somewhat comfortable in.
Assuming Lombard wins and gets AS next, who does Weidman get, I want to see him against another contender, how about against Bisbing?
Brett Okamoto (1:36 PM)
Bisping is already paired with Stann ... I like the Weidman/Alan Belcher proposals. Belcher has earned a shot at a big fight and it's a good test for Weidman.
John (New Mexico)
I'm waiting for the day when one these fights happens: GSP v Silva, Silva v Jones, or Jones v Cain/JDS/Overeem.Which do you think is most likely to happen?
Brett Okamoto (1:37 PM)
Jones will move up to heavyweight at some point and take on those names you mentioned, so don't worry about never seeing that. That will happen eventually. In terms of the "superfights," I'm sticking with what I said earlier. About a 70 percent chance we see one of them.
Who is Chris Leben fighting next?
Brett Okamoto (1:40 PM)
Chris is still serving that suspension from the positive drug test last November. It looks like he's in a situation where maybe the UFC is waiting to have him officially licensed before they book him to a fight ... I could see him fighting a guy like Cung Le or even a Patrick Cote (they fought to a split decision once upon a time). I'll be happy to see him back, always liked Leben.
Who would you pick for Mark Munoz next? Was he a little overhyped?
Brett Okamoto (1:42 PM)
I will say maybe just a little, only because he has not learned to 100 percent ingrain his wrestling skills into MMA. He's a phenomenal wrestler, but there's a difference between guys like him and guys like a Frankie Edgar, Rashad Evans, Josh Koscheck -- guys who were terrific wrestlers and have worked it seamlessly into their game. When Munoz figures that out he'll reach the next level. Right now, he struggles getting athletic, savvy guys down because he telegraphs his shot.
I think UFC 149 will be an awesome show due to its exciting fighters (Kongo is fun to watch most of the time). 9 out of the 10 fighters on the main card are coming off wins (Kongo is the only one). Compare that with UFC 148 where only 6 of the 12 fighters will coming off wins (Sonnen Silva Cote McKenzie Menjivar Easton coming off wins). This card has a more relevant co main event. I'm not saying it deserves more hype than Silva/Sonnen....but do you think this card is getting too much "heat"?
Brett Okamoto (1:44 PM)
I see your points, I can't agree with you that it even comes close to Silva/Sonnen. Sometimes one fight can eclipse 12 and that was one of them. People want to see fights that truly matter in a division, whether it be a title fight or a number one contender fight and there are two obvious ones on 149. I'm not sure if that answers your question, but I guess bottom line, I would agree with most that 149 isn't a strong card.
I wanna weigh in on Tyler's question. One of the fights I remember most vividly is Marco Ruas chopping down Paul Varelans. Sure it's before the modern era of mma, but you started to see the evolution around that time.
Brett Okamoto (1:46 PM)
We're going real old school there.
Kevin (Mile High)
Donald v Melvin at 150, sick fight. I know its early but who are you taking?
Brett Okamoto (1:47 PM)
That is a great fight and you had a feeling it was going to be Cerrone and anybody as that co-main event, just didn't expect it to be Melvin. Man ... it is early so I have the right to change my mind, but my first reaction is Guillard.
"The Hairrow" Ebersole (Australia)
How many straight fights am I going to have to win to even sniff a title shot?
Brett Okamoto (1:49 PM)
Problem is that Ebersole has a tendency to get off to slow starts and he doesn't produce the "type" of win that makes you say, Oh yeah, I want to see that guy against the best of the best. You know he's capable of perhaps beating the best, but he's not forcing us to really want to see it. He needs to come out and look absolutely spectacular against one of these guys because heading into most of these fights, he's expected to win anyway.
Do you see Cain doing better now that he's been in with JDS and has experience with his speed?
Brett Okamoto (1:50 PM)
I don't think that matters with a 64-second fight. What does matter is that Cain wasn't healthy and it undoubtedly had an effect on him. That's what would be different in a second fight.
timothy davis (hollywood)
hi brett,does the compensation structure for ufc fighters concern you at all? i'm not privy to all of their revenue and expenditures, but ufc148 did approximately $50mil on pay per view buys, and $6.5mil at the gate, and the aggregate payouts to all fighters who appeared on the card is approximately $1mil.isn't it a problem when the biggest mma organization, whom i imagine pays its fighters the highest rates, is paying its talent less than 2% of the gross?
Brett Okamoto (1:52 PM)
This is a real heavy debate with some grey areas, as the UFC is a private company and "discretionary" bonuses given to the athletes post-fight aren't revealed. Here's my very, very general take on it so as not to go off on a long tangent: Some guys are extremely, almost overly taken care of, others are not being paid what they deserve.
Healey vs Melendez maybe? Am I crazy thinking Healey would have a chance in this match up?
Brett Okamoto (1:54 PM)
Don't think you're crazy. I'd give Healy a shot. First off, it goes along with what I said about the Thomson fight and that is that Melendez enters every fight with everything to lose and nothing to gain and it's tough to fight under that pressure. But stylistically too, Healy can be a handful, I just think he'd have trouble getting the fight where he'd want it against a guy with strong hips and good wrestling like Melendez.
Is 152 going to be one of those cards where there is a big main event with a weak undercard? The reason I say that is we are a little over a month out and that card hasn't really come together yet.
Brett Okamoto (1:55 PM)
Penn/MacDonald doesn't do it for you? Bisping/Stann?
Scott (Salt Lake City)
Have you heard how many buys Ufc 148 had?
Brett Okamoto (1:56 PM)
I think it's still too early for a real reliable number, but what's been reported is it hit 1 million but fell short of expectations, which were around 1.3 to 1.4 million.
If Rory beats Penn (as I expext he will) isn't Rory vs Nick Diaz a great fight for Diaz's return - or is it too risky, as if Diaz loses again it takes away the possibily of GSP vs Diaz?
Brett Okamoto (1:57 PM)
Correct on both accounts. It's a great fight but I don't think they'd risk Diaz taking a second straight loss. The UFC wants Diaz/GSP because we all want Diaz/GSP.
Marc (Malden, MA)
Speaking of fighter pay. The NFL, NHL, NBA, MLB are all exempt from the govt's anti-trust laws because of collective bargaining between the league and the players' union. As the UFC is effectively a monopoly now, could you see them having issues with anti-trust laws at some point?
Brett Okamoto (1:58 PM)
The federal government looked into it after the purchase of Strikeforce. If things continue as they are, yes I could see it being an issue.
Marc T (Phx)
Whats going on w/ Rashad and MW? And what fighter do you think could switch weight classes and make the biggest waves (excluding Bones)?
Brett Okamoto (2:00 PM)
He told ESPN's Franklin McNeil he's considering it. His team has suggested otherwise, now and in the past. I think a cut to 185 would be brutal on Rashad. I would love to see what happens in a fight with Anderson Silva, but what then if he loses? Or even wins? Is he going to kill himself to stay at the weight for multiple title defenses? And if he loses, he's got to take time to put the weight back on? I think he should stay at 205. And as far as biggest waves for a fighter moving weight classes, you guys know what I'm going to say. Frankie Edgar.
Brett Okamoto (2:03 PM)
Alright guys let's cap it off at an hour today. Thanks as always for the questions/comments, enjoy 149 if you choose to watch it. I'll be in Calgary for the weigh-in and the event, so stay tuned to ESPN for videos and updates. Hit our live chat during the fights, too, and I'll see ya next Wednesday.
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