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 (1:01 PM)
Milwaukee was good. I saw more Harley Davidson in three days than I've seen in a lifetime. I ate some cheese curds. Went to the Brewers game, bet on Wily Peralta, lost 5-0. Good times. Saw the lightweight belt change hands, too. Let's talk about that and other stuff.
Todd Grisham (Bristol, CT)
Give us your best "three team parlay" for tomorrow night. I know a degenerate gambler that wanted me to ask
Brett Okamoto (1:03 PM)
Well ... tell your friend ... I'd go Rafael Natal, Ronaldo Souza, Felipe Arantas.
lee eisenman (Philippines)
Hi Brett, im an avid fan of the UFC since i was 15, pettis looked really great with his win against benson, how do you think he would fair out with Aldo?
Brett Okamoto (1:04 PM)
That's a million dollar question. I don't love either one of them over the other ... Aldo's athleticism was obvious against Chad Mendes. If you're a better athlete than Mendes, you know you're a damn good athlete. That said, Mendes was a wrestler obviously, so it'd be different against Pettis ... but I think just athletically speaking, Aldo would be the stronger, faster fighter over Pettis. I'd lean Aldo, but that's 50/50.
Is it just me or does Maia deserve a much better opponent than Shields? Was it really just the timing? Cuz every top 10 guy is kinda booked or just fought...
Brett Okamoto (1:06 PM)
Yeah, I think timing had a lot to do with it ... and Maia sort of beat Fitch and then took his spot as "the welterweight who is awesome but not exactly a fan favorite." Not to the length of Fitch's reputation, because with Fitch it had gone on for years, but Maia isn't the most marketable guy for the UFC so ... they're not going to ignore him and mistreat him, but they're also maybe not going to give him the most marquee fight out there that will get him to a title shot.
Alex Peer Des Moines IA [via mobile]
Am I alone in thinking Barnett and Verdum should fight for the number one contender spot? And Mendes should fight Lamas and Swanson should fight Edgar?
Brett Okamoto (1:08 PM)
You're not alone at all. I'm fine with Barnett fighting a guy like Travis Browne though if Werdum wants to wait. Last week I said have Browne fight Werdum, but if Werdum is dead set on waiting ... any combination of those three would be fine. Mendes/Lamas should definitely happen, I'm 100 percent on board ... unless Lamas gets his title shot which is a definitely possibility depending on how soon Aldo can compete. Swanson/Edgar is a great fight.
Weird ending to a title fight and interesting explantion by Herb Dean to Chuck M. Have you ever seen something like that before and how would Showtime match up with Aldo (stylewise)?
Brett Okamoto (1:10 PM)
I have seen something like that before ... I'm drawing a blank on an example though. I think it probably had Rousimar Palhares involved. His leglocks/heel hooks are so quick and devastating (and unique) that I want to say he's won fights and the crowd was like, "Um, what just happened?" Style wise, Aldo takes the center of the cage and fights big. I think he'd keep that style even against 155 pounders. Pettis would circle, come in and out of range, Aldo would counter a lot, then explode here and there. It'd be great to watch.
Hey Brett, Josh Barnett seems like a scary guy. What's he like to interview. Thought the Ko stoppage was fair but where to for Mir and Barnett from here?
Brett Okamoto (1:11 PM)
Barnett isn't scary, he's fine to talk to ... I could relate him to Roy Nelson. Interesting sense of humor that leads to occasional awkward silences. KO stoppage was not a great stoppage but I don't think we would have seen a different outcome. Mir ... I don't know. He just doesn't seem to have it anymore. Barnett is immediately a top player at heavyweight.
rothwell can't be serious can he? browne has nothing to gain fighting big ben.
Brett Okamoto (1:12 PM)
Oh, Rothwell was serious. When you're so excited you're spitting on the mic and tripping over your words, you're serious. He will absolutely not get that fight, though.
Derrick ( Brockton MA home of Rocky Marciano) [via mobile]
ok so with the new news of a possible matchup between rashad and chael how do you think that'll play out?? I believe that suga is far too fast and light in his feet for chael to walk him down and shoot for a power double, not only do I feel that rashad could match his wrestling with chael i believe he can beat him there as well. I can only see this fight ending with chael going back to the drawing board, or laid out stiff trying to remember what his post fight rant was going to be.
Brett Okamoto (1:12 PM)
I really have very little to add to this.
michael (mi) [via mobile]
What's wrong with Pettis' s leg now?
Brett Okamoto (1:13 PM)
Grade 2 sprain. 7-to-8 weeks of rehab. In my mind, that means he's out rest of the year. Would fight sometime around January, February.
Tim (Fremantle (WA) )
Hi Brett, What did you think of Soa "the Hulk" (especially as he hand a pre fight injury) on the weekend and who would you like to see him fight next. My preference would be someone like Stipe Micoic.
Brett Okamoto (1:14 PM)
No, he doesn't deserve Stipe Miocic after that performance. I understand he said his rib was injured so good for him to not back out of the fight and find a way to win, but I'd be surprised if they give him a guy like Miocic based on that. Think very low tier for his next opponent, like somebody you probably haven't heard of.
Gabe Corona ca [via mobile]
Great work as always Brett enjoy your views on the fight game. The armbar submission Win for A.Pettis was awesome! On sad note R.I.P Tommy Morrison had the pleasure to meet him.
Brett Okamoto (1:15 PM)
Thanks for the kind words.
Marc Iveson (Uk)
Hey man! Missed the last few weeks because I did actually explode after the awesomeness of the Fox sports card! Dana says there will not be a third Pettis vs Henderson fight but I see these two the same as Cain & JDS. Both are so far above the rest in the division albeit a much much deeper division that they beat everyone else so a third is inevitable no?
Brett Okamoto (1:17 PM)
I gotta disagree with you. Is a third fight possible? For sure. But Pettis has now beat him twice and this last one was extremely conclusive. I wouldn't say they are far above the rest either. Henderson had a few close calls defending the title and he only did it three times. With as deep as lightweight is, if these two meet again ... I'm thinking it's like, 2018.
Enjoyed the fights on the weekend. Thought Mendes / Guida would be closer. How far is Mendes of Aldo ? still think he needs one or 2 more and preferably a win against Edgar or Swanson first. I think Aldo is 3 or 4 on most lists but I?d have him at number 2 behind Jones. Thoughts
Brett Okamoto (1:18 PM)
Mendes is basically one win away, as long as Aldo stays in the division. I don't think he'll jump Lamas without fighting him. So, he either beats Lamas and takes the shot, or Lamas takes the shot and Mendes beats someone like a Cub Swanson. As far as P4P, I have Aldo 4.
Nick (Melbourne (Australia))
Hi Brett, Excited that they've announced Hunt / Big Foot for Australia in December. Any idea which overseas fighters would be on the card assuming Te Huna, Sots, Perosh and maybe (if he can make ww - Lombard). What's the chances of ESPN sending you or Gross here is it always Mc Neil for the long haul trips?
Brett Okamoto (1:19 PM)
Are you kidding? McNeil doesn't want to make the long trips. You gotta twist McNeil's arm to get him to Vegas. He likes being at the fights but doesn't like planes, hotels, etc. I'd love to go, but we'll see. I was there for Penn/Fitch.
Tim (Brighton, MA)
Hey Brett,Best case scenario, where can Bader go after this? If he can pull out an impressive win, can he be in a title fight with another win afterward? Or has that awful Tito loss put him too far back?
Brett Okamoto (1:20 PM)
In that scenario, it's not the TIto loss that hurts him it's the fact he's already lost to Jones. Very few people would be interested in that rematch. Pretty much no one would be interested in that rematch actually. Best case scenario, Bader wins and rises to somewhere like No. 5 in the division, takes another big fight and Jones leaves the division. That's best case for Bader.
I have a grip of coin on Jacare tonight. I'm now feeling a bit worried, should I be?
Brett Okamoto (1:21 PM)
I'll be honest with you, if I were going to bet a large sum of money on a fight, I wouldn't go against Yushin Okami just because he's habitually undervalued in the lines. You know what I mean? I'd find better value than betting against Okami. That being said, I think Jacare dominates the standup. I've seen submission predictions which isn't surprising because it's Jacare, but I think if he does submit him, it's after he hurts him on the feet.
David (St Louis)
Always liked Frank Mir but its pretty obvious it is time for him hang them up.
Brett Okamoto (1:22 PM)
I can't argue that. Based on he and his team's reaction to the stoppage though, it's not happening. Told me he wants to fight again as soon as possible.
Miocic vs. Rothwell maybe?
Brett Okamoto (1:22 PM)
Sure, I can buy that one.
Oh, that's how you get a question posted and answered... you have to praise Brett first. Okay...Brett, you're a killer dude. Rad, brah. Yo, it's the Stokester here in Oregon and guess what... I think Bader will pull a Darth Vader and blow up Glover like he did Alderaan.
Brett Okamoto (1:24 PM)
Why thank you for the compliment Stoke, yes now I will respond to your post. I'm not counting Bader out tonight at all. Glover gets into exchanges and he's willing to take a shot. Eventually, no matter how good your chin is, that willingness to get hit will cost you. I don't know though, I think Bader better wrestle tonight. Glover is just non-stop man, he's a bull. I think he can take Bader's power, but I know Bader can't take his power.
Hey Brett, did you attend the event in Milwaukee? I was there and it was great, however I was a bit disappointed in the attendance. A lot of the upper deck was empty and it looked like the lower sections had some empty seats as well. Will this affect the UFC coming back to Milwaukee?
Brett Okamoto (1:25 PM)
I believe it absolutely will. The hometown kid in his first UFC title fight ... and like you said, lots of empty seats. Listening to Dana, it sounded like a big catalyst for them being there was obviously their sponsor Harley Davidson holding an event. I think for sure the UFC will be hesitant returning there without another HD request.
Brett, you're sleeping on Court McGee. That gas tank + movement is a real weapon. Anyways, I know Pettis is supposed to face Grant next, but when Pettis and Aldo meet what weight class do you think it will be at? Also, if the person changing weight classes wins, will he have to choose which weight class to defend his belt at and then vacate the other title?
Brett Okamoto (1:27 PM)
I'm still not sold on McGee, Sandy. Maybe you and I can have a chat bet on his next fight. If Pettis and Aldo meet, I think it will be for the 155 pound belt. Just makes sense. Aldo wants to go to 155 anyway. Easier for a guy to move up in weight than it is for him to go down, especially a guy like Aldo who is big for 145 pounds. If Aldo were to win, yeah I think he'd have to vacate one of them.
Alan (South Florida)
Brett, I might be in Vegas for Silva/Weidman. How will the atmosphere compare to a Mayweather fight?
Brett Okamoto (1:28 PM)
I would say nothing compares to a Mayweather fight and I'll sort of stick with that, but Silva/Weidman is going to be huuuuuge. I believe it will rival the atmosphere of UFC 100. You have a great co-main on top of it ... and everyone is waiting for and aware of that rematch. Still though, always hard to top a Mayweather fight. Pretty massive one of those coming up actually.
LarrySandersJoe (Newark, UK)
Wotcha, Brett. For me, the Houston card gets better and better at each glance. Which contest are you most looking forward to? Beltran/Maldonado has the makings for one hell of a slugfest
Brett Okamoto (1:30 PM)
Everybody looks for different things. Beltran/Maldonado has the makings of a brawl you're right, but I'll pick a technical fight over a brawl any day. That's just me personally. I was watching random fights the other day and you know which fight I think is highly underrated? Cruz vs. Faber at UFC 132. Go back and watch that one, every inch is fought for. It's awesome. In terms of 166, no doubt the fight I'm looking forward to most is the main event. Past that, maybe Lombard/Marquardt.
Is Vera done with the UFC? He just can't seem to get back in the win column.
Brett Okamoto (1:31 PM)
Dana is typically unwilling to reveal that type of info on fight night unless he's extremely angry at a certain fighter but yeah, I would think Vera is cut. He was cut after the Thiago Silva loss, got to come back because of the drug test in that one ... hasn't done a lot with his second chance.
Brett, Bellator has dealt with so much contreversy lately and Dana said at the scrum "they don't know what the f--- they're doing" Do you agree? And do you think Bellator will be around for another 5 years? Or will they end up like Strikeforce?
Brett Okamoto (1:33 PM)
I think Dana's exact phrase isn't accurate ... they've made certain moves that I haven't particularly agreed with but you could really say that about any business. I think they'll be around in 5 years because they have the financial backing to do so and Spike wants to be in the MMA business. Will they be putting on successful PPV shows? I'm not real sold on that. You can't really compare them to Strikeforce though accurately because their structures are different.
When will Aldo be ready to go again? Could we see Mendes/Lamas and Swanson/Edgar get made?
Brett Okamoto (1:34 PM)
I read one of his coaches in an interview say they could do Pettis in January or February, so I'm assuming that's about the timetable if everything goes well. That is definitely enough time to do both those fights you mentioned so ... yeah, I wouldn't be surprised if Lamas gets a call about Mendes very soon.
Brett Okamoto (1:35 PM)
The UFC likes Mendes. Dana likes Mendes. He's (at least now) exciting to watch, he's well-spoken, he's marketable. If they make that fight, will be interesting to see if it's 3 or 5 rounds. Probably 3, because I don't think you headline a card with a featherweight contender fight, but 5 would be interesting.
Damn good thing for Pettis that he submitted Ben, can you imagine if he gave away that round thanks to that stupid kick than lost a close decision? Seriously, what was that?
Brett Okamoto (1:36 PM)
Can you imagine if he connected on it and knocked him out though? You take the risk with the rewards with Pettis. I thought it was a dumb decision too in the moment, was writing on Twitter, "What was Pettis thinking? He handed over a takedown." Then the armbar went up and I was like ... delete, delete, delete, delete.
Darryl (Livermore, CA)
Who are the Top 3 "gas tank" guys currently in the UFC? Gotta think Condit, Faber, Mighty Mouse are on the list, right? What about all time? Renzo?
Brett Okamoto (1:37 PM)
Wow, all time? Even naming the top three guys in the promotion right now seems insanely difficult. I would say when healthy, Dominick Cruz is at the top. Cain Velasquez obviously has to be thrown in there. Condit is a good one.
Do you think Benson Henderson looked smaller? He didn't seem the same to me. Also, do you think not having the toothpick in his mouth mentally did something to him?
Brett Okamoto (1:38 PM)
Ha no. I don't think the toothpick was a factor. And did he look smaller? You know, maybe a little but not substantially so. I would say if there was a difference in Ben than in his previous fights, he did not look nearly as confident as he usually does.
Hi Brett, thanks for the chat as always. I know MMA in the Olympics has been discussed in the past, but short of that is the UFC/MMA in general supportive of wrestling continuing as an Olympic sport?
Brett Okamoto (1:38 PM)
Oh of course. The UFC has gotten way behind the Save Wrestling movement. All of MMA has.
Will Frankie Edgar ever hold a UFC belt again?
Brett Okamoto (1:39 PM)
I'd set the line at .... No -210, Yes +175
Zach (St. Louis )
Wow Pettis looked good. What are your early thoughts on Pettis vs grant and Aldo? I think he can take them both. Once he started landing those body kicks on benson it looked like benson was thinking "damn".
Brett Okamoto (1:41 PM)
Grant is interesting. I'm telling you right now, of all the 155ers in the division, Grant just might be the worst guy for Pettis to fight first. He's aggressive, he cuts off quicker fighters, but he's not a blanket. He's violent. He can hurt guys. I still think you favor Pettis, he should be able to dictate range, use his speed, kicks, etc. but Grant is well-rounded, he's big but not slow, he's a finisher. That's a good fight.
Josh (San Marcos)
Is there any news on when Bigfoot will be back, and is chael going to fight rashad or will he get wanderlei
Brett Okamoto (1:42 PM)
Bigfoot is back in December, he'll be fighting Mark Hunt in Australia. Not sure yet completely what's going to happen to Chael. Wanderlei, though, appears to be out due to injury.
How was attendance in the Indy event? Hoosiers haven't gotten a whole lot of UFC love through the years. Would love to see more... Timing didn't work out for me this time.
Brett Okamoto (1:42 PM)
I actually don't know. Wasn't there. Was in the air on my way to Milwaukee so didn't even get to watch the fights live.
Marc T (Sherman Oaks)
All though Texiera looks like a beast, who has he really beaten at this point? An aging, unmotivated Rampage? Even when he beats Bader what does that tell us? I'm not sold Bader is top 10 and if he is its due to the LHW lack of depth. I need to see a little more from Tex before he's contender worthy
Brett Okamoto (1:44 PM)
I wouldn't completely argue with that but what are you going to do? The division is what it is at this point. I think beating Bader, especially if he runs through Bader, is a decent statement in this division right now. Maybe he could have fought a guy like Dan Henderson? That would have been better. Just based on his skill set though, I'm intrigued in a Jones-Teixeira fight.
Alan (South Florida)
Brett, does Mayweather-Alvarez replicate Mayweather-Cotto in style and closeness in cards?
Brett Okamoto (1:45 PM)
I'm not sure if Alvarez is quite the "boxer" that Cotto was at that point, but I think Alvarez is for sure more in his prime and a better athlete than Cotto was at that point as well. I think the majority of analysts on this fight are the same as me, Alvarez will have his moments early and then everyone sort of expects Mayweather to run away in later rounds. You never know when Mayweather will show up one day though and look old. You just never know that.
Nate (Woburn, MA)
Ninja, educated the unwashed masses: Doomsday was brought on as a late replacement in the Hall fight. Was he signed to a one fight deal and if so, Doomsday obviously will get at least 1 more fight, correct?
Brett Okamoto (1:46 PM)
I honestly don't know what contract he signed, but my guess would be he signed a multi-fight deal anyway and for sure, he'll get another fight.
Nickel Steak (Boston)
Thoughts on the stoppage in the Mendes/Guida fight? Seemed to me Guida was working his way up the fence, and he certainly seemed fine right after.
Brett Okamoto (1:47 PM)
Watching live, I thought the stoppage was fine. I noticed later a lot of people were talking about. Dana said he saw Guida staggering after he got back to his feet, for what it's worth. I saw him go down and I thought the stoppage was fine, didn't really watch him when he got back up.
Dana said the other day that Wanderlei wanted PVP points for fighting Chael but the UFC only gave those to champions. Didn't the Eddie Alvarez contract have PVP points as the main point where Bellator couldn't match?
Brett Okamoto (1:48 PM)
Yes, certain non-champions get PPV points. Alvarez is one example. I think Dana wasn't really trying to lie, he was just saying certain fighters (mostly champions) gets PPV points, it's already in their contracts, why is Wanderlei trying to renegotiate in mid-contract, sort of thing.
Again, looking forward, I wonder if Pat Healy will give Khabib Nurmagjfkdasdjfa his first loss? And if Khabib keeps winning I sure hope he gets a nice, simple nickname.
Brett Okamoto (1:49 PM)
I give Healy a real good chance at knocking off Nurmagaddovawadv.
Jason [via mobile]
Am I the only 1 that thinks Glover needs 1 more fight before a title fight?
Brett Okamoto (1:51 PM)
Will you change your mind if he viciously knocks Bader out? I think the UFC knows that sending Glover to a title shot after this fight is a bit weak, there won't be much buzz. That's why you've seen statements from Dana phrased as, "If Glover looks spectacular ... " they're leaving it open to do what they want. He wouldn't even talk about Glover on Saturday after 164.
Who do you like better for week 1 WR 2 Greg jennings or Tavon Austin?
Brett Okamoto (1:51 PM)
I have Tavon on both my fantasy teams, so I'm gonna say him and hope I'm right.
Keith Cardoza [via mobile]
How worried are you that injuries really limit Pettis career. The kid has talent but staying healthy is an underrated quality for long term champions. His stand up is spectacular but all those unorthodox strikes can come at a price. Got to believe his quick movements and strikes from odd angles expose him to some increased chances of injury.
Brett Okamoto (1:53 PM)
Great point. He's a ridiculous athlete, but he does seem somewhat fragile. And I say that relatively, obviously. He's a real tough guy, but you look at the way he's built and compare it to a Henderson, a St. Pierre, an Aldo ... and yeah, he looks like a guy who can break a little. Dominick Cruz is sort of the same way. Hopefully that's not the case and he's just been unlucky. It's good he's avoided surgeries and been able to return with rehab both times.
What's your pick on the Mayweather - Alvarez fight?
Brett Okamoto (1:53 PM)
Brett, what are your thoughts on some of the Bellator champs coming over to the UFC. I'm dying to see how Curran and Shlemenko do against top 10 guys (but not Askren; I hate him) Do you think they'll come over within the a year?
Brett Okamoto (1:55 PM)
Curran seems like a guy Bellator likes and will try to keep. Askren, as we've seen, doesn't seem to fit that mold, but we'll see. Regardless of whether Bellator waives the exclusive negotiation timetable, they still have the right to match a UFC offer. That's what happened with Eddie. So, we're not even positive Askren is coming to the UFC. Either way, I don't expect to see Pat headed to the UFC anytime soon, because he fits more of the Michael Chandler mold. A champion Bellator really values.
Alan (South Florida)
Brett, does Ben Henderson move to WW now that Dana said the road back to a title fight at LW will be long?
Brett Okamoto (1:55 PM)
I doubt it. Possible I guess with all the weight he cuts, but I doubt it.
Will Sonnen go back to 185?I kinda think he's changing his mind again?
Brett Okamoto (1:56 PM)
Wherever the biggest fight is, that's where Chael will be. If Weidman wins the rematch in December, that would obviously increase his chances of going back to 185.
Brett Okamoto (1:58 PM)
Alright guys we'll wrap it there. Bader/Teixeira tonight. It's a fight worth watching. Jacare is a potential wildcard at 185 ... Okami fits the mold of that "spoiler" type though, derail title aspirations. And you probably know from previous chats I'm a Benavidez fan in general, he could earn a title shot tonight. Good stuff. We'll reconvene next week to talk about it.