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 (1:04 PM)
Whaaaat's up guys? Welcome to another Wednesday chat, looking forward to it. Met Donald Cerrone in Las Vegas yesterday, he was teaching some professional bull riders a few moves at a local gym. Good stuff. He really wants Pettis, and told me, no Pettis isn't ducking him. You can't really fake things like shoulder surgery and staph infection. That said, he's sick of waiting. Can't say I blame him. I think we still see that fight next, UFC wants it, but if it doesn't happen, hope it does at some point in 2013. Love that fight. To your questions.
Ian (Gold Coast (Australia) )
Hey Brett, will Chad Mendes "no contest" have an impact on his ability to get a visa and fight in OZ They're really tight here on things like that (sort of like the US with us).
Brett Okamoto (1:06 PM)
Hmm, I hadn't given a whole lot of thought to that until just now to be honest. The battery charges were dropped, he pled guilty to a misdemeanor. I'm not a legal expert, but misdemeanors can be pretty minor, like a simple trespassing, vandalism, etc. are misdemeanors. I doubt that would keep him out of the country, but again, I'm not an expert. Worth bringing up but if I had to guess, he's probably fine.
Nick (Perth (WA) )
Hi Brett, Interesting comments by Rich Franklin. Assuming at MW he avoids Anderson and aims to have a run at Bisping, Weidman, Munoz etc. Just wondering, post MMA , what's he likely to do?
Brett Okamoto (1:07 PM)
Well first off, I don't think it's his plan to avoid Anderson. Maybe you meant, the UFC will avoid matching him with Anderson which is probably true but I guess you never know, Rich does have name recognition and we just saw Silva/Bonnar so nothing seems impossible. Yeah, I think he beats Cung but if he gets into the guys you mentioned, he'll be a decent underdog. Post MMA, who knows? UFC loves the guy. He's done commentating. He'll be able to stick around the sport if he wants to.
Jake from Swampscott, Ma [via mobile]
Hey Brett, will we ever see top strikers like Tyrone Spong or Gockan Saki in the UFC ?? Think they both have serious potential to threaten the top stars if they can broaden their skill sets..
Brett Okamoto (1:09 PM)
Yeah, of course it's a possibility. We'll see Spong in action here in Las Vegas next month with WSOF ... I think a big key with those guys is getting with a good camp but then they have to want to learn. Some strikers just downright hate wrestling, can't get into it. You can push yourself to learn something you don't like, but at the end of the day, with something as grinding and demanding as wrestling and BJJ, you have to enjoy it on some level.
Chael fighting Jon Jones is like me trying to pick up the hot bartender, i have a small chance, and there may be moments where it looks like i'm gonna score,but in the end i shall walk out of that bar empty handed and crushed
Brett Okamoto (1:10 PM)
Confidence brotha. Helps in an MMA fight and picking up bartenders. Chael will have it ... but yeah, I think I like your chances better than his.
Nick (Perth (AUstralia) )
With all the comment about Strikeforce, why dont they keep it as an "alternative entity", one catering for a different market. (ie mostly female) or like the minors in baseball, serie b in italian football or VFA in Aussie Rules (sort of like a feeder competition). Hence Nate Marquadt, Ruble Johnson etc could stay with the company albeit in a reduced capacity.
Brett Okamoto (1:11 PM)
It's not completely up to them. Showtime is paying money for that product, which is why they've made it contractually impossible for the UFC to just strip it of all its good parts. Ultimately, you won't really find Zuffa (owner of UFC and SF) engaged in that type of business because you really don't make money on minor league type endeavors.
Hey brett wats up... Really trying to figure this India thing out. I understand the population is over 1B so it makes good business sense to go there. But I'm not sure how this helps the organization or the fans since there are curenlty no Indian fighters I can think of to guage the skill level. I'm trying to figure how this benefits the audiences since I don't think people are all that psyched about UFC India.
Brett Okamoto (1:13 PM)
It's purely a business decision. As you mentioned, tons of people over there and to hear Lorenzo Fertitta describe it, it's a culture that has a young, media-savvy culture with money to burn. That's the UFC's target audience. It's not about getting people in the US excited about India, it's about getting people in India excited about UFC. Eventually, yeah, the country might produce fighters, but right now it's about doing business in a business friendly country.
Cameron (Auckland (NZ) )
I cant help wondering with Hendo that he's lost his chance and even if he beat's Machida "the moment has passed". I admire him like I admired what Randy did in his 40's but the rate Jon Jones is evolving / improving, the longer a matchup is (in the making), the harder it would be. Also get the impression that Dana holds him mostly responsible for not talking about the knee earlier.,.and now he's paying. Thoughts?
Brett Okamoto (1:15 PM)
Of course, the longer it goes without the fight being made, the tougher it becomes for Dan. Jon Jones is still learning (scary) and Hendo ain't getting any younger. If he beats Machida, I still want the fight. You can't discredit the guy. He's still one of the absolute best. I don't expect him to beat Jon, but I'm still interested in the fight if only because he's one of the few 205ers left Jones hasn't beat.
Have you ever noticed when they say a fighter has "heart" it means they lose fights by getting hit in the head a lot but don't get knocked out. Do fighters who win ever have "heart"?
Brett Okamoto (1:16 PM)
Yeah, of course they do. Since we just talked about Hendo, I'd say he showed tremendous heart in his last win over Shogun. But I get what you're saying and in fact, I've talked to several trainers who have brought up, without me really asking them directly, that they don't want to hear their fighter has a lot of heart because that means he got beat up.
Hi Moto, good stuff man. With the Sonnen-Jones pairing, it's become even more clear that business dictates MMA more than competition, most apparent than in the UFC's poster child, Bones JOnes. I used to be a big fan when he was a humble, hungry up and comer, he undoubtedly is ultra-talented. Am I the only one pissed off by his talking about his "legacy" already, not even halfway into his career, and not taking fights because it may jeopardize his "brand" and him going after the LW title defense streak? What kind of d-bag does that only a few years in? I have a new respect for JDS who wants to be the best and will fight the best, even Jones when he comes up. Your thoughts on new school vs old school?
Brett Okamoto (1:19 PM)
Well ... I won't argue Jon Jones was probably more likeable earlier in his career. I remember one interview in particular, before the Matt Hamill fight, we just started talking about how skinny his legs were and he was real self-depricating about it in a funny way and it was just a fun conversation where you didn't feel he was trying to be politically correct all the time. Now, it does feel like a show for the most part any time I talk to him. This guy went from prospect to star basically overnight though, I can't blame him for changing. It'd be tough not to. He's got a lot of people in his ear, wanting different things out of him. I agree with you, I think he'd be better off sometimes tapping the breaks on some of these comments but he has goals, he's a hard worker, he's obviously successful. Is what it is.
First, let me state that I am a huge GSP fan and the last thing I want to see is him getting beaten, let alone him taking a massive beating. And, like everyone else, my first instinct upon seeing Silva destroy another LHW is to think that if larger men can?t beat Silva, what chance does a smaller GSP really have. However, that may just be the key to this issue. We now unequivocally know that big men offer no challenge for Silva. They cannot cope with his movement and he makes them look lumbering and slow. That, if we had any lingering doubts, is now clear. What we don?t know is how he would react to a smaller more mobile fighter who happens to be multi-faceted, lighting fast in his transitions and, by all accounts, as strong as most LHWs. What happens under those circumstances exactly? In theory, JBJ does have a better chance than other LHW but that seems too obvious to me. Are analysts not taking the easy, and simplistic, route in the GSP vs Silva/JBJ vs Silva debate?
Brett Okamoto (1:23 PM)
Stephan Bonnar and Forrest Griffin are slow. They aren't incredibly strong wrestlers. They're both easy to hit. So, while I think you make some good points, you can't generalize this into "Anderson beats up LHW's because they are slow." No. Anderson beat up Forrest and Bonnar because they are slow. You always want to be the bigger man in combat sports. I think the interest in a GSP/Silva fight, if you have any, is GSP is so well rounded and so good at holding guys down, he'd have a shot. But make no mistake, him being far smaller than Anderson would be a huge disadvantage.
Yo Brett! I'm gonna blame the Browns pick on Josh Gordon's hands. How about a cigar piece for this week?
Brett Okamoto (1:23 PM)
Me too. Browns should have won that game 5 different times.
Will Hendo take another fight before the possible Jones matchup?
Brett Okamoto (1:23 PM)
Yes, it's going to be Lyoto Machida. Early 2013.
Billy (West Mich)
Cerrone vs Alvarez? Put it on the Superbowl card!
Brett Okamoto (1:24 PM)
That's sure been gaining a lot of steam ever since the Pettis news hit. I know Cerrone would be up for it. It does make a ton of sense if we don't get the Pettis fight, but my guess is Pettis promises to be back by February and they continue trying to make that one. Not to mention, Alvarez isn't even in the UFC yet.
IFFFFFFF injuries don't hit 155 hard, I can't see how that doesn't do some pretty decent numbers. It's not just that there is names, it's names with fun styles.
Brett Okamoto (1:25 PM)
Heavyweight title fight, plus the UFC has a reputation for big cards at the end of the year so yeah, should be a solid PPV number to finish the year. Plus, Cain brings the Mexican fan base into the equation.
What are the current lines on GSP-Condit, and who's your pick?
Brett Okamoto (1:27 PM)
Looks like Condit is getting between +280 and 300. At those odds, you can't lay -360 on GSP. Not with the long layoff and the fact Condit is legitimately the best guy he's fought in awhile. So, if I were going to bet on the fight I'd probably go Condit, but non-betting, who wins? I'm sticking with GSP.
Captain Howdy (Georgetown)
Brett, would you describe the UFC 155 card as: A) stacked or B) ridiculously stacked? I mean, Koch and Pickett's fights aren't even on the main card! Zuffa, take my money now.
Brett Okamoto (1:28 PM)
It's awesomely stacked. Really fun fighters to watch in Joe Lauzon, Alan Belcher, Chris Leben. Add in the big names. Title implications. Still though, I have to admit, I'm more amped for the Fox card. Having B.J., a Diaz brother and Matt Brown ... feels like this main card was made for me. Love watching those guys.
Brandon Pollack (Toronto, Ontario)
What will the UFC do with Chael when he loses to Jones? Tough to sell a fighter who's lost 3 straight decisions, granted they were all against champions, but still.
Brett Okamoto (1:30 PM)
Yeah, I said in last week's chat if Chael loses this fight, I think his stock plummets. He'll still be good for a sound bite, but his fighting style isn't all that entertaining and without marquee opponents, his talk just won't be interesting anymore. I could actually see him retiring. He'll have offers everywhere to commentate, easy way to keep making money and stay around the sport.
Andy (South Carolina)
Any idea when we will see Jim Miller in action again? I notice from his twitter account he is ready to fight and there are plenty of interesting matches for him at 155. Thoughts on who he could be facing next?
Brett Okamoto (1:32 PM)
He'd be a decent matchup for Diego Sanchez, if Sanchez is serious about coming down to 155. Not that it's really hurt him, obviously you look at his record and he's done fine, but Miller is just small for that weight class. I've talked to him about 145 before and he says his body just wouldn't make it. It's unfortunate because technically speaking he's about as good as anyone. But with that size disadvantage, he's gonna run into problems like against Ben and Nate.
Brett, I like how ESPN is covering the gambling side of MMA. But, one suggestion to make, more betting suggestions on the under card too. Me being a gambler myself, knows that a lof the true value is on the under card.
Brett Okamoto (1:33 PM)
For sure, this has been brought up before and I've talked to my editor about it. I'm planning on having a mini Red Ink for cards from time to time.
If Marquart keeps dominating, will the UFC bring him in? I see him dominating most, if not all of the WWs.
Brett Okamoto (1:34 PM)
The UFC won't pull him from his SF belt, but if SF is dissolved next year, yeah I think the UFC will give him another shot. Dana was livid with him in Pittsburgh but he was on The Ultimate Fighter show as part of Shane Carwin's team and I'd suspect things have mended a bit.
What's up with TUF this season? Big Country lets his fighters pick their opponents and Carwin doesn't even coach...yawn.
Brett Okamoto (1:35 PM)
Huge yawn. Just not good TV. Change things up. Get a new format.
With pettis's health a question mark do you think Cerrone could be the perfect welcomer for Alvarez if and when he signs with the UFC eddie didnt take too much damage in his last fight and could probably be ready for early 2013
Brett Okamoto (1:35 PM)
I know we talked about this but I'm getting A TON of posts about Alvarez/Cerrone. You know the UFC is getting them, too, then. We shall see.
The more I think about the Condit/GSP fight, the more I think GSP really won't have an issue with Condit. It seems like just about everytime GSP, Silva, and Jones fight, we try to find reasons that the challenger will give him problems. This is the same Condit who I thought lost to Ellenberger and Diaz and should have lost to Rory. GSP won't dominate him but I dont think he has any real issues with him either.
Brett Okamoto (1:37 PM)
Mmmhmmm. You're right, there's always kind of a tendency to look for reasons to pick the underdog so when he wins you can say, Hey see. I'm smart. But in this case, yeah, Condit lost to Rory for the majority of three rounds and everyone thinks he has this big advantage on his feet but Georges moves well and that jab is difficult to deal with, man. There are pro boxers who win entire fights behind their jabs, it's an incredible weapon when you perfect it and Georges has.
Matt (San Diego)
Brett, A few fights ago you guys finally listed everybody's picks for ALL the fights, now you're back to picking just the main card. What's the deal?
Brett Okamoto (1:38 PM)
What do you mean eveerybody's? Like the rest of the staff? I don't decide what matchups we vote on, editors do. I'm always down to pick all the fights.
John (Austin, TX)
Hi Brett, Is Dana White's about face regarding women fighting in the UFC a testament to how much star power Ronda Rousey has?
Brett Okamoto (1:39 PM)
Yes. That's it. Dana sees dollar signs in Ronda Rousey and doesn't want anyone profiting off her except Zuffa. I read the Sports Illustrated article and, while I'm not saying I don't believe Dana, that was the only quote. There were no specifics. There were no plans. He just said, absolutely we'll have women's MMA. Personally, I don't see it happening soon unless they have one special card, where Rousey headlines and the rest is a normal UFC card ...
If we see a quick healthy turn around from UFC 154, when will GSP fight the winner of Hendricks/Kampmann? Please say sooner than Mid-2013... Who is after that Diaz?
Brett Okamoto (1:40 PM)
No, GSP will fight Anderson. Unless he's just adamant for some reason that he doesn't want to move up, that's the fight he'll get. Diaz will be up there when he returns, but it sounded like Dana wants him to fight once before a title fight and I still think that should be against Rory MacDonald.
Given Matt Hughes comments about post-retirement helping regulate judging, do you think he could be an MMA judge, and a good one? Are there other fighters (active or not) you think would be good for this position?
Brett Okamoto (1:41 PM)
Yeah, it's tough to predict whether or not someone will be a good MMA judge, but yeah, Matt is intelligent and the comments he has had on judging I've agreed with. He talked recently about damage is the key thing in a round and I couldn't agree more. Judging is likely going to improve in general, whether it's fighters getting involved or not. The sport is still, relatively, very young.
Frankie Edgar. Heart personified and a winner.
Brett Okamoto (1:42 PM)
Yes, great example. Probably best example there is.
Rashad vs Little Nog does nothing for me, u?
Zero interest in Evans/Nogueirra, why even make that fight?
Thoughts on the Rashad/Lil Nog fight? It's a big YAWN for me.
Brett Okamoto (1:44 PM)
Uh oh. No love for Evans/Nog? Okay, me neither really. My interest in that fight will be on Rashad. He put on a lot of weight after that Jones loss. That's not entirely rare for him, but he looked like a guy who had lost his interest in fighting. And ... he was so deflated by that loss. He's got money, he's won a title. Is he still hungry? That's what I'll be looking for an answer to against Nog.
Craig (Kansas city)
I think people are down on Cain. He looked unstoppable before Junior fight. I think he has great shot at winning title vs. Dos Sontos. What are your thoughts?
Brett Okamoto (1:45 PM)
I wouldn't say people are necessarily down on Cain ... it's just that it's a tough style fight for him. On the feet, he's badly outclassed. Cain's kickboxing isn't terrible, but I don't think anyone goes into a fight with Junior confident in their standup. Junior is just so explosive and I have a feeling from watching them he's much stronger, physically, than Cain. So ... it's a tough fight.
I get that they did Evans/Lil Nog because of the name factor, but man I just think Evans runs through him. I just have images of Lil Nog losing to Bader and Davis in my head.
Brett Okamoto (1:46 PM)
I would agree, except for my gut feeling Rashad might not care like he used to.
Will John Dodson win the flyweight title?
Brett Okamoto (1:48 PM)
Hey a BYU guy. The Cougars used to obliterate my alma mater Colorado State in basically every sport, every year I was there. Good times. I do not think Dodson will win the title. I like Dodson. Like the way he moves and he's an offensive minded flyweight, people will start following him because he brings action to that division, but Demetrious Johnson is too good. Defense is too slick and I think he's still faster than even Johnson.
Any word on Brian Bowles? Haven't heard from him in a while
Brett Okamoto (1:49 PM)
You know, he was expected to move to flyweight and yeah, haven't heard anything. If I am remembering correctly, he's one of those guys who has constant injury problems with his hands, right? He may be injured. I have not heard anything on him. He'll be an interesting addition to the flyweight, but he struggles with guys who are faster than him so, he'll need to make serious adjustments.
Did you see the Mayhem interview with Ariel Helwani? He seemed geniune about everything he said, but part of me thinks it's still all an act and he is mentally disturbed.
Brett Okamoto (1:51 PM)
I did see the interview. Nice job by the guys at MMAFighting. I wouldn't say the guy is mentally disturbed, but he is a little different, we all know that. His comments on Dana, the way he was treated with the UFC, fighting on bad knees, being alright with moving on from the sport, all fascinating stuff.
Brett, how about Cerrone vs Maynard?
Brett Okamoto (1:52 PM)
Maynard already fighting Joe Lauzon. They could scratch that fight, but why? Cerrone doesn't HAVE to fight by the end of the year. He's not in training camp right now, he hadn't started yet for Pettis. If you mean have Maynard fight him after Lauzon ... you're probably looking at the same time frame he'd be able to fight Pettis anyway.
handicap the Ricardo Lamas vs Erik Koch fight for me
Brett Okamoto (1:53 PM)
Oh man, good fight. If it's anything less than Koch -200 my early reaction says go for it.
Deeper division: WW or MW?
Brett Okamoto (1:54 PM)
I'd say ... welterweight. Middleweight missing a major player in Luke Rockhold, too.
Maia looks great at 170. who do you think he gets matched up with? Fitch, Koscheck, Ellenberger?
Brett Okamoto (1:54 PM)
I'd guess Fitch or Koscheck out of those three choices. Fitch the favorite.
What happens to Big Country if he gets KOed by Carwin....another talking to, to get down to Lhwt?
Brett Okamoto (1:55 PM)
Probably. Unless Dana really has reached the point where he's like, I'm not having that conversation again because it's a waste of time. I would think somebody has it with him though.
If Condit beats GSP, does Dana force or convince Anderson to take on Weidman next? If they give Bisping to Anderson, they should just strip Anderson of the title and give it to Weidman.
Brett Okamoto (1:57 PM)
Ha I liked that last comment. Weidman is the guy, I agree with you. If GSP loses ... yes I think we'll see the Weidman fight because he'll be coming off a win over Tim Boetsch (we're assuming here, obviously) and they'll tell Weidman, come on. Call him out. Generate some interest in the fight. Another dark horse scenario we really haven't talked about is what if SF folds? We always talk about Gil Melendez, how about Luke Rockhold? He's marketable. Maybe they do a champion/champion fight. Those always sell.
How does the UFC get new blood to come in when they don't want to spend on a development league? They compare themsevles to the NFL and soccer but how can they get elite Olympic or top notch athletes when the UFC wants short term money and not invest in the athletes pre UFC.
Brett Okamoto (2:01 PM)
Well, the UFC is still the biggest generator of new talent because they've pushed the sport of mixed martial arts into main stream. By providing a league where guys can come in and earn fame and make money, they've already done enough to persuade athletes to pursue a fighting career. They are constantly scouring the world for new talent. They have found a pipeline of Brazilian talent in recent years. They are definitely encouraging new talent, having a league where 5-5 fighters can go and try to get better isn't the answer.
Do you see Gusto or Texeria getting a Lhwt shot by mid 2013?
Brett Okamoto (2:01 PM)
Hmmm good question. Probably Gus.
Who do you see Reno Barao defending his interm title against? The only thing I can think of is a Brad Pickett if he get by Wineland.
Brett Okamoto (2:03 PM)
Or Michael McDonald. That would be the fight that makes the most sense but I think UFC is reluctant to put those two together because it kill off a contender for Cruz. Cruz is back in the gym already I believe, not going 100 percent but he's the kind of guy who comes back earlier from injury than expected.
Paul (SF, CA)
Do you think GSP gets an immediate rematch if he loses, even if it's decisive?
Brett Okamoto (2:05 PM)
I would say ... yes. Even if it's decisive. He'll say he had too much rust from the layoff and it's the only fight he wants and they'll do it.
I don't have a question but a statement. We all Miss the freak that was Brock Lesnar... Anyone of his size ever coming back?
Brett Okamoto (2:06 PM)
Ha, I don't know. I think Overeem is actually bigger than Brock. Just me personally, I always looked at Brock as a HUGE guy when I was next to him. Way more so than Overeem, strangely. I think part of what made Brock bigger than everybody else was his personality.
Anderson said just in the last couple months that he wants to fight GSP even if he loses to Condit. Can't say that impressed me though?
Brett Okamoto (2:08 PM)
That's just a weird comment. Even if he wants to fight GSP just because he feels that's the fight that needs to happen since they've both dominated together for so long in their careers, don't say it. Because as you said, people will take it as, why do you want to fight a guy coming off a loss and not a guy like Chris Weidman or Jon Jones?
I have wondered for two years now how Luke Rockhold would do in a title fight with A.Silva. He's tough, good striker, good wrestler, and he's got long reach, great fight for Silva.
Brett Okamoto (2:08 PM)
Couldn't agree more. Would love to see it. Would love to see Rockhold vs. Weidman.
Brett Okamoto (2:10 PM)
Alright guys, let's wrap it up here on another slow fight week. Bellator welterweight tourney continues this week, but other than that ... pretty slow weekend. Enjoy it and we'll see you back here next week.