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 (1:00 PM)
Hello hello. Welcome to the chat this week. Glad to have you with me. We're sort of eventless this week, with only WSOF running a card. Nevertheless, I think we'll come up with something to discuss. Alright, here we go.
Not so much a question but I was pleasantly surprised to turn up to my local's PPV and hear Brian Stann comentate. He was thoughtful, balanced and spoke well. Great also to see an ex fighter know his place in the sport and move on to better things. To me part of MMA's success will be giving opportunities to fighters so they're prepared for life after MMA whether they're career lasts 3 fights or 10+ years.
Brett Okamoto (1:02 PM)
Yeah, I agree. Good to see these guys retire still in good health (which I think Stann is) and move on to other things. You hope it doesn't turn into a favoritism thing, like, Stephan Bonnar was great on TV I thought and now we haven't seen him presumably only because UFC (Dana White) is angry over his final fight. I guess that can happen in any business though. Also agree Stann was good ... I don't think you can get much better than Rogan but Stann was good.
GAbe corona ca [via mobile]
Canelo vs Mayweather you think it will break the ppv buy record. Do u SMELL Upset?
Brett Okamoto (1:03 PM)
I'm not sure if it will break the record ... I guess I'd be surprised if it did, though. I don't smell upset. I smell maybe a little early drama, a compelling 4-5 rounds, then Floyd running away with it.
Darren ( Decatur, GA)
Brett, depending on Shogun's ability to defend the takedown, I see another finish in Chael's future. Your thoughts?
Brett Okamoto (1:05 PM)
A finish? I mean, it's possible but I really don't see it likely. Shogun is extremely hard to finish. He's mentally tough and Chael isn't exactly a power puncher, regardless of whether he's on his feet or on the ground. My breakdowns of that fight will publish next week around Wednesday so check that out, I'll say though that I picked Shogun to win the fight.
Tyler (Oklahoma )
Brett, what are we betting on Henderson v Pettis?
Brett Okamoto (1:06 PM)
If I lose, I'll mail you my credential and official program from the fight. How's that?
Cameron (Auckland (NZ))
Hi Brett, Zombie / Aldo was over the minute his shoulder went which was sad. Can a fighter who's suffered an injury (not inflicted by his opponent) take a timeout (to seek treatment) sort of like there is (optional) break when a fighter is kneed in the groin area? If not should this be introduced?
Brett Okamoto (1:08 PM)
No injury timeouts in combat sports ... and no, I would be against that happening. Even though it's a freak accident, IMO you have to credit somewhat the opponent for it ... for example, when Jon Jones busted his toe, even though it was random, you have to say, well Chael was defending the takedown and forced him to exert that energy you know? It's sort of a weird thing to describe but no, you can't change that to a no-contest or try and fix the injury in mid-fight. They do have circumstances where an accidental foul, if a fighter can't continue, they go to the scorecards instead of declaring it a TKO.
Paul (South Carolina)
When is a decison likely to be made about Vitor Belforts next opponent and in which division will it be?
Brett Okamoto (1:10 PM)
Not sure, Dana has basically said he's letting Lorenzo Fertitta handle those negotiations. You can't really blame Vitor for not wanting to fight Tim Kennedy at 185. Even though I think he'd beat Tim, that fight doesn't make sense from Vitor's side of things. Then again, him fighting Tim outside of 185 or possibly moving up to heavyweight doesn't make sense either. I would guess though they'll come up with something sooner rather than later. Vitor isn't getting the title shot, so they have to come up with something.
Hey Brett, Good to see Anthony Perosh get a win on the weekend. Any idea how Hector Lombard's weight cut is going? Think he should be compeditive against Nate but as you've said previously, worry about losing a lot of that muscle mass.
Brett Okamoto (1:11 PM)
I haven't spoken to Hector lately ... let me just say he's not always the best about returning texts and phone calls. I did see that he mentioned it wasn't his idea to move weight classes, he says he was urged by the UFC. Just my personal guess but I don't think it will be a great process for him.
what are your thoughts on the Brazilian media kissing up to the Brazilian fighters? during the post fight press conference one Brazilian media member said "Lyoto I thought you won and whoever doesn?t think that doesn?t know anything about MMA.
Brett Okamoto (1:12 PM)
It's been happening down there for a long time. You come to expect it. I haven't been at a Brazilian event yet so it hasn't bothered me too much. If I was there and trying to ask legitimate questions, I'd probably be a little irritated.
Seems JDS wants DC after Cain but DC is on his way down to (hopefully) fight Jon Jones after grinding Roy Nelson into the ground. I really want to see Jones and DC but will JDS throw a spanner in the works. How do you see a fight between DC and Bones going?
Brett Okamoto (1:14 PM)
Yeah, it's interesting. If JDS does win I don't necessarily disagree with his prediction that DC will suddenly want to fight him. I think the UFC would probably prefer DC drop since he's discussed it so much. I guess it would come down to how the weight cut is going for DC. He's obviously not cutting to 205 right now because he's fighting Roy, but I think he's gradually losing weight. What's he weigh right now, today? I think that matters in terms of that decision, you know? I'll be interested to see what he weighs in at for 166.
Will Bellator's PPV effect Eddie Alvarez's lawsuit?
Brett Okamoto (1:16 PM)
It certainly could, yeah. One of the biggest sticking points in that argument is the money Eddie would conceivably make in the UFC from PPV revenue. Bellator is now trying to prove it can be successful in a PPV platform. If it bombs, it effects Bellator's negotiating power a bit in that lawsuit. If it goes for 300,000 buys, it hurts Eddie's side.
sean, monrovia, ca [via mobile]
Brett, will we ever see Gegard "mickey" moussasi vs Alexander "the goof" gufstasson? Or does Disney own the rights?
Brett Okamoto (1:18 PM)
You know ... I'm not sure. Never been asked that one before. Demetrious Johnson is "Mighty Mouse" and that hasn't been a problem. I think we could see a Sean "Aladdin" Monrovia.
What will Bellator do with the winner and loser of Rampage/Ortiz? Will they make their way into the tournament? I just don't see the point of this fight.
Brett Okamoto (1:20 PM)
The point of this fight is to carry a PPV, earn somewhat respectable numbers and showcase some of Bellator's homegrown talent along the way. In terms of the loser, I would find it really hard to believe that Tito would end up being a third or fourth fight on a free Bellator card, facing a no-namer in the first round of one of its tournaments ... I think Bellator tries its best to find another name of some sort to fight the loser or if they have a 205er they want to build, book him to it.
If you were to take a poll of fighters, who do you think they'd prefer to have officiate their fight, Herb Dean or Big John McCarthy?
Brett Okamoto (1:20 PM)
Herb Dean, but I think most of them would be happy with either.
What does the UFC do for finding an opponent for Sarah Kaufman? And what is the chance they scrap the fight for later in the winter?
Brett Okamoto (1:21 PM)
I think UFC will do its absolute best to find her an opponent. It's tough when you just don't have a deep division. I think at last count there are only ... 12 female fighters on roster? If they can still give Sarah a fight, they'll do it though.
Should we give up on the idea of ever seeing MMA judging corrected? It's starting to become too frequent and it's only a matter of time before it sours a big, mainstream fight.
Brett Okamoto (1:23 PM)
I have said repeatedly that I think the bashing of MMA judging is a little bit overblown. Yes, there are scorecards that make absolutely no sense ... but officiating in sports is ALWAYS going to involve human error. Every sport deals with it. So, don't get me wrong, I believe it can improve, but I'm not infuriated by it on a daily basis. All that said, that Phil Davis decision was depressing because it really does look like they just saw the takedown and handed over the round. Also, one judge had the third round for Phil, which is just like, dude, you're not even paying attention at this point.
When do you think the UFC will start scaling back the PPV's? Last weekends card felt like a slap in the face for UFC Brazil fans.
Brett Okamoto (1:24 PM)
It wouldn't have if Pettis hadn't been injured. Some PPV's are just going to be stronger than others. If you look at the rest of the year, the lineup is insanely good.
Hey Brett, who do you like in the Overeem/Travis Browne fight? Can Browne take the next step against top competition? Which Overeem shows up physically?
Brett Okamoto (1:26 PM)
Not sure which Overeem shows up physically. I mean, you have to ask yourself at this point legitimately, was Overeem benefitting from banned substances? Compare his physique when he fought Brock with how he looked at weigh-ins against Bigfoot. It wasn't close. Or was he just feeling the effects of a long layoff and didn't respect Bigfoot to begin with? It's an interesting thing to watch in this fight, does Overeem look like himself again or should expectations for him be lowered now that he's presumably a 100% clean athlete? I'm picking him to win the fight but we'll see. Travis Browne is legit Top 10.
Parolee Proud (Rochester, NY) [via mobile]
McGregor/Holloway and McDonald/Pickett on the prelims of a free card?!?! What a great card.
Brett Okamoto (1:27 PM)
One of the best cards top to bottom. Main event doesn't hold up to others in 2013 but in terms of depth, this card is outstanding.
Do you think the kidney stones mean Aldo is done with the featherweight division?
Brett Okamoto (1:29 PM)
Yeah, for those who don't know a Brazilian news outlet reported yesterday that Aldo was in the hospital for kidney stones. MMAFighting followed up with a story from its Brazilian reporter and it sounded as though it wasn't toooooo serious, but it's possible. Aldo had already said he'd leave the decision up to his coach on what weight to go to ... I was saying no way Aldo moves up after KZ fight but now that this has come out ... can't say that with confidence anymore.
How did you score the Machida-Davis fight?
Brett Okamoto (1:29 PM)
Hey Brett, Uriah Hall vs. John Howard is coming up... How do you see the fight going? Another letdown from Uriah, or do you think we'll see another highlight reel knockout?
Brett Okamoto (1:32 PM)
Howard is no slouch and you assume he'll be in somewhat good shape because he just fought in early June. It was a first-round knockout ... maybe he hit the cheeseburgers after in celebration but it seems like he wanted to fight frequently in 2013 so I doubt it. You gotta pick Uriah in the fight but it should be a fun one to watch and Howard is more than capable of winning it.
Marc (Malden, MA)
2-3 weeks ago, there was a situation where one scorecard was 30-27 for fighter A and one 30-27 for fighter B. I'm sorry, when that situation occurs, at least one of those judges has to lose his job.
Brett Okamoto (1:34 PM)
Yeah, that was Ed Herman, Trevor Smith if I'm not mistaken. Definitely weird when that happens, I will say there are some cases where it's actually possible for that to happen, when every round is just razor-thin. It does happen, but very rarely.
Brett, check it... I saw Chael Sonnen at the airport a few years ago, so that's pretty cool.
Brett Okamoto (1:34 PM)
Cool story, bro.
On the judging question - isn't it bad for MMA that Dana is routinely proclaims 'Don't leave it in the hands of the judges!"....isn't that exactly whose hands it's supposed to be in?
Brett Okamoto (1:34 PM)
Well, he means "take it into your own hands." ... I don't think I understand your question ...
How weak is the Bantamweight division right now? Even with the inclusion of Cruz, whenever that happens, there doesn't seem to be a lot of buzz around that weight class.
Brett Okamoto (1:36 PM)
There's not a lot of buzz right now but it's pretty solid actually. You have a potential rivalry at the top with Barao and Cruz, when Cruz is healthy. Faber, I know people are sick of him but he's still very good. McDonald is a future star in just about everyone's eyes. After that, there's a gap, but still solid competition. I think there's no buzz just because Cruz is out, so every fight with Barao just seems like second choice right now.
I dont think UFC 164 is that good. Main event is great, but most of the other fighters are coming off loses. Co-main event is blah!
Brett Okamoto (1:38 PM)
Yeah, Barnett/Mir isn't the greatest co-main but you got Guida/Mendes which should be a good fight and Koch/Poirier is one of my most anticipated undercard fights of the year. I'm a fan of Erik Koch, those of you who have been on this chat a long time know that. I think that will be a great fight. Tim Elliott vs. Louis Gaudinot should be awesome, too.
Of all the fights on the FS1 card which one are you most looking forward to? Gotta be Reem vs Browne, yeah?
Brett Okamoto (1:40 PM)
Ehhh ... maybe. Probably. I like the Michael Johnson/Joe Lauzon fight. Michael Johnson, another friend of this chat. Obviously Max Holloway vs. Conor McGregor is one to keep an eye on. Matt Brown vs. Mike Pyle is up there. Probably though, Reem/Browne if I could only watch one.
Hey Brett, could we see the winner out of ortiz vs rampage fight randy couture since he is working with bellator now?
Brett Okamoto (1:41 PM)
You know, it feels like anything is possible over there right now. And I don't mean to say that condescendingly because from a business standpoint, I understand Rampage/Tito (depending on how much they are being paid). Can you see Randy showing up in the cage after the fight to challenge the winner? The awkwardness of that moment alone would be worth buying the PPV.
brett im so pumped about rampage I mean hes motivated and in the best shape of his life I mean we have never heard him talk like this. Oh wait yes we have this is a joke bellator is embarrassing themselves with the wrestling crossover and washed up ufc match ups I feel bad for chandler, alvarez, and askren being stuck over there. So my question is will be beallator still be around in 2015 or will it be done?
Brett Okamoto (1:43 PM)
I will say, I almost heard this voice in my head head when the announcement was made that said, "We interrupt this actually very well constructed Bellator card for a special blast from the past announcement." Like, sandwiched in between two pretty formidable Bellator champions Askren and Chandler, we got a WWE moment from past-their-prime Rampage and Tito. It was just like, man Bellator, this feels forced as hell. Will it be around in 2015? Yes it will.
Last year, it seemed as though we spent a lot of time discussing injuries & the impact to cards. This year the injury situation hasn't been quite as prevalent. Is it just good luck compared to last year or have fighters/camps changed their methods to cut down on injuries?
Brett Okamoto (1:44 PM)
Probably a little bit of both. I would say more luck though ... that 2012 was just cursed it seemed like.
Very hard to tell right now, but how do you see the Eddie Alvarez situation playing out after the Bellator PPV?
Brett Okamoto (1:44 PM)
It is hard to tell, but my feeling all along (and it remains so for now) is that Eddie will ultimately go back to Bellator.
with paul daley signing with BAMMA does this completely shut the door for daley to sign with zuffa
Brett Okamoto (1:46 PM)
Not really, only for the time being. I'd say he shut that door with Zuffa when he punched Josh Koscheck after the bell, you know? Him signing with BAMMA just means he signed with BAMMA. If he does terrific over there and people are asking for him, Zuffa will always consider. But so far, even though Daley has done alright outside Zuffa, he hasn't done anything that forces UFC's hand to resign him ... not enough buzz.
Lyoto after the fight saying "Just listen to the crowd they know who won" was ridiculous. If the fight was in PA I'm sure they would be cheering the result... He just has to realize his style will result in these situations happening.
Brett Okamoto (1:46 PM)
His most ridiculous statement came in the back, when he said something to the effect of, "I was the one moving forward in this fight. Judges need to see that I was moving forward" ...... Hmmmmmmm.
How does the MMA media feel about fighter beef's? is it an important detail to the story?
Brett Okamoto (1:48 PM)
If it feels real, it always adds to the fight, even for media. I get sick of the fake beef, it's pretty easy to see when you're around the fighters in person, but at the same time, I'm still human man. When there is legitimate beef, it adds a lot. If it can add to a baseball game, it certainly adds to a fight.
Brett, have you ever been at the grocery store or at Carl's Jr or the Dollar Store or where ever people in Vegas go and randomly ran into Dana?
Brett Okamoto (1:49 PM)
The only time I randomly ran into Dana was at a UNLV/Colorado State basketball game at halftime.
Brett Okamoto (1:49 PM)
Never at Carl's Jr.
I know your picking hendricks to beat GSP as am I but if GSP were to win what would he need to do Jab and move?
Brett Okamoto (1:50 PM)
And wrestle. Even though Johny is the better pure wrestler, I can envision a fight where GSP is able to take him down here and there and neutralize him. Maybe not for entire rounds like he did to Hardy, Alves ... but GSP's strength is always his double leg. Just because he's fighting a wrestler doesn't mean he abandons that completely.
Any rumors on additions to 168? I get to go.
Brett Okamoto (1:51 PM)
Yeah, you're going? I haven't heard anything concrete lately ... there are still other cards that need to be filled up before that one. Go to the prelims! Don't be a typical Vegas crowd for that one.
Brett, Can you give an example of where you sensed the fighters were "fake" not liking each other?
Brett Okamoto (1:53 PM)
There are always the easy ones to spot ... like Jorge Masvidal and Michael Chiesa is a recent one. Even Jake Ellenberger, Rory MacDonald. Those ones where they'll kind of say something, but then when they're asked directly if they don't like each other they'll be like, "Eh, no I don't really not like the guy but we're going to fight." Then there are ones that get huge and in the background you just don't buy it. Quite honestly, I was never THAT convinced Rashad and Rampage hated each other. Maybe I'm wrong, I was never explicitly told they got along, but to the extent that one was built up? It never felt THAT real to me.
Kevin (Mile High)
Michael Chandler looked awesome on his feet ( I never heard of the guy he fought, but still) , the more i see him I'm convinced he could win the UFC title. What you think?
Brett Okamoto (1:53 PM)
I'm convinced at this point he could hang with the best UFC lightweights. Win the title? I'm not sold completely on that.
Speaking of the UNLV/Colorado State game, what do you think about the Cavs taking Anthony Bennett number one overall? Not sure if you're an NBA fan or not, but I think it's safe to assume you were at the game to see CSU.
Brett Okamoto (1:55 PM)
Yeah, that was the only game I went to and CSU got blown out, which was fitting because all they did was get blown out when I actually went there. Everyone always talked about what a stud Anthony Bennett could be but then when you watched him play, he was pretty lazy I thought. Never was a leader, but I guess he was young on that UNLV team. Surprised he went first.
when aldo leaves 145 do you think mendes finally rules the division
Brett Okamoto (1:56 PM)
... possible. Does Chad Mendes beat Frankie Edgar fight now? Not easily he doesn't. Does he beat Cub Swanson? .... Probably. Ricardo Lamas? Maybe not. There are tough fights for him there, I don't think I really see him in a Jon Jones/GSP/Aldo role where he hangs on to the belt for 8 fights.
I could probably check the P4P rankings myself, but might as well ask the man right here. Has Aldo jumped in to the top 3 P4P or is that still a bit premature?
Brett Okamoto (1:56 PM)
My colleague Josh Gross has him at No. 2. I have him at No. 4. I still have Anderson at No. 2. Feel free to disagree with me on that one.
Speaking of beef, the one between Ronda and Tate seems a bit too much...
Which comes to mind as the realest beef two fighters have with each other? It's gotta be Rousey/Tate, right?
Brett Okamoto (1:58 PM)
It seems very real now, even behind the scenes. And I've talked to people who are involved with TUF and they say it's real at all times. Not just for the cameras. I'll just never forget seeing the two of them at an event in Las Vegas one time, hanging out in the front row, laughing ... they seemed to like each other that night. But that was a long time ago.
Marc (Malden, MA)
Does Faber go back to 145 if Aldo leaves?
Brett Okamoto (1:59 PM)
Not a bad question to bring up but no, I think he'd stay at 135 at least until he loses again. Really great question though ... Faber/Edgar would be an awesome fight.
Hey Rampage, glad you didn't want to fight wrestlers anymore. That Tito guy rarely takes anyone down.
Brett Okamoto (1:59 PM)
Supposedly Rampage wanted to fight Roy Jones Jr. In that sense, I'm glad he's fighting a wrestler instead, even if it is Tito.
Machida asking for a 5 rd rematch with Davis is the MOST ridiculous thing he said. Who in the hell wants that fight as their main event?
Brett Okamoto (2:02 PM)
Pretty much everything Machida has said in awhile seems ridiculous. He turned down a chance to fight Jon Jones a second time on short notice because if he lost to the same guy twice, he'd likely have to "reinvent himself." What would be so wrong about that anyway? If he lost, he could have reinvented himself at 185, where he could easily make weight. That was a big mistake on his part. He's as conservative outside the cage as he is in it, apparently.
Todd (Coralville, IA)
Something needs to be done to correct the judging situation in the UFC. Either the athletic commissions need to be held to a higher standard in their choice of judges or we need to create a new international mma commission to take over the judging. With only 3 judges for a fight and all of the terrible scorecards we've seen in the last 5 years, people are going to think gamblers are having success at getting to judges. One of the judges actually scored that Silva won the first round against Weiman. Unreal.
Brett Okamoto (2:04 PM)
I do agree that commissions have to be more open to admitting when a terrible scorecard comes out and in some cases, explain it. It's not as if they really hide from it necessarily, the NSAC has made statements on individual scorecards in the past, but it feels like it's always the same, prepared statement of "we stand behind our guy." It's about as meaningful as if they didn't say anything at all.
On the other hand, I see Askren fight and I'm not convinced he's top 10 in the UFC in that weight class. What do you think?
Brett Okamoto (2:05 PM)
I have him in the Top 10 but barely. Not Top 5.
Brett Okamoto (2:07 PM)
Good stuff guys, thanks for joining me on a slow week in MMA. We'll get into the big Boston card next week. I'll be interested in your predictions on those. Lot of questions surrounding how much Shogun has in the tank at this point, at least for me. Hit me up on Twitter anytime @bokamotoESPN. Enjoy the rest of your week.
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