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 noon ET!
Brett Okamoto (12:01 PM)
Thanks for joining on an earlier start time this week. Apologies again for the technical issues of last week. Doesn't look like it will be a problem today. Let's chat.
decam (los Angeles, ca)
Whatever happened to the Jose Aldo we knew when he was a finisher in WEC? Do you think he's fighting safer cause its a bigger stake or just better competition or lack of in the UFC 145 division. So far only two finishes and one was cause the Korean Zombie pop his shoulder. Hope 155 will bring out a more fierce Aldo.
Brett Okamoto (12:03 PM)
I wrote about this after his last fight in Newark. I believe it's a combination of things. The weight cut to 145 is brutal on him. He tends to run out of steam in the fifth, which he is aware of even though he won't admit it, so I think he does limit himself a bit in earlier rounds. Winning is more important than finishing, so I don't knock him for it. I do hope he's able to open up more at 155 though.
chadkins ohio [via mobile]
What is going on with jessica eye's drug test results? If this is medication she has allegedly been taking since she was in a car accident at 16 wouldnt this have shown up in every drug test?
Brett Okamoto (12:05 PM)
This question might have come in a couple days ago before everything was on the table. She tested positive for cannibinoids (marijuana). I think it's actually a great thing the Texas commission didn't outright suspend her. I don't believe fighters should be suspended for marijuana infractions and I'm not the only one. What I hate about the Texas commission and lots of other commissions out there, is that they hide behind medical privacy laws and don't let the public know what's going on. It's confusing and it's just wrong, if a fighter fails a drug test for a banned substance, that should be public information, not private medical history.
Ken Adams (Australia)
Brett, when ive seen events from Brazil, the crowd seems to chant something that i cant decipher.. To me, it sounds like "Whoomp, there it is..." (from an old rap song....)Can you help me out and let me know what they are actually chanting?
Brett Okamoto (12:07 PM)
"Vai morrer" ... means, "You're going to die." They don't mess around down there.
Marc Iveson (UK)
Sup B Moto! Missed the chat last week but you've been crazy busy these past few weeks so I wont hold it against you! My point is re the main event. Was I disappointed it was stopped? Yes. Was Faber ok? Yes. Was he intelligently defending himself? Not really. Sure the gloves were taking the shots but just ask Mark Munoz that doesn't always work! Faber was rolling or scrambling he was just taking shot after shot. What else could Herb do???
Brett Okamoto (12:09 PM)
I gotta disagree. Faber was intelligently defending himself. In that moment, that was his only move, trying to lock up a single leg to slow the fight down and block punches with his glove on the inside hand. Herb messed that one up ... which he rarely does. I think he was too consumed with the damage Barao had already done. It was already locked up in his head Faber was hurt badly and it turned out, he wasn't as badly hurt as Herb thought he was. Always err on the side of caution though.
In their prime who would have won between Koscheck and Fitch? I have been leaning more towards Kos, seems to be a tad better. Remember GSP couldn't hold him down, but he basically held Fitch down.
Brett Okamoto (12:10 PM)
Yeah, Kos. His pure wrestling was better than Fitch's and he had better hand speed on the feet.
Dan Hardy's Mohawk (Chicago Hinterlands)
I'm buried in snow. Yet we get Dos Anjos/Khabib. Who's the early pick, moto?
Brett Okamoto (12:11 PM)
Tough to go against Khabib right now, isn't it? This feels like an opportunity to guess a betting line ... I'm gonna say ... 'Bib -175, RDA +145.
Hey Brett, what's your prediction on the Mousasi/Machida fight? How does it play out and how does it finish?
Brett Okamoto (12:14 PM)
I like Mousasi's half asleep approach to fighting. It's funny to watch a guy win a fight, with this look on his face like he just woke up from a nap. I don't think that calm, plodding demeanor matches up well against Machida, though. It's good in the sense that Mousasi isn't going to get frustrated and run in on him (think Ryan Bader), but he's too flat footed and stationary in my opinion to catch Machida with any regularity. I think it starts real slow, with Machida moving around, gauging Mousasi's movement, Mousasi calmly walking him down but not getting into range ...eventually Machida starts to open up and finishes him before the later rounds.
Too Tall (The Igloo)
Brett, Crystal ball time..I'd imagine Anderson Silva will need to beat someone before he gets a title shot. Assuming Weidman maintains, who gets The Spider for his warm-up match?
Brett Okamoto (12:16 PM)
Difficult to say ... since a return is still a long ways off. I have this feeling though, if it's a middleweight fight, regardless of what is going on, it's Michael Bisping. Bisping has wanted that fight forever. It's sellable. Regardless of what Bisping does between now and then, he'll still be a name that would look good on Anderson's resume if he were to win. Yeah ... I'm really thinking Michael Bisping.
Darren (Stone Mountain, GA)
Brett, is it farfetched to say Aldo is by far the most explosive athlete in rhe UFC? I mean when lets loose, he really gets after it. And I don't really get all the complaining about his lack of finishes. True I'd love him to TKO a guy but his fights still entertain me. Surely his UDs are better than GSP's right?
Brett Okamoto (12:18 PM)
I love watching Jose Aldo fight. Yeah, the lack of finishes don't "bother" me per se ... but of course I'd be in favor of him opening up more if he feels comfortable doing it. Most explosive in the UFC? Yes, but it goes beyond that ... his technique is so solid and he's sooooo fast with it, when he throws it's like you can literally see the transfer of energy from him to his opponent ... I guess a good way of saying it is that no other fighter in the UFC makes me wince as much as Aldo watching a fight from press row.
Paul (Bakersfield) [via mobile]
What's up Brett? I know Faber has a large and passionate fan base, but I'm really getting sick of all the whining about the premature stoppage. Yes, it was an early stoppage, but what about Urijah's performance in that fight makes people think he could win had it continued?
Brett Okamoto (12:20 PM)
Nothing. Other than the fact that "anything can happen" ... Faber wasn't winning the fight. I was personally really bummed about the early stoppage though because given the stakes and all of Faber's bad luck and shortcomings in previous title fights, you hate to see a guy lose in that way, as he's giving a thumbs up, you know? Would he have won the fight? Most likely not. But seeing how hard he worked to get back to that point, you wanted to give him a shot to recover there.
What do you think Sergio Pettis's ceiling is? Should he cut to 125?, and was giving up that choke a sign of things to come or him just showing his inexperience?
Brett Okamoto (12:23 PM)
Inexperience for sure. He was probably winning that third round up to that point, so you give him another minute or two or whatever it was, he's still undefeated. And Alex Caceres is a tricky opponent for Pettis to be fighting at this point in his career. Yes, I think he looks too small for 135. From what I've heard, though, he just has a really hard time making 125 right now. That will be an interesting thing to watch, see if he tries to cut back down if he loses another fight. If he can make it somehow, that's probably where he needs to be.
In one word describe the UFC's relationship with the media compared to other sports you have covered or been around?
Brett Okamoto (12:25 PM)
In one word? Hmmmm ..... Engaged. They definitely like to be in control of every situation if possible. That's somewhat the case with any PR group, but it's exaggerated at the UFC.
Tim (North Olmsted)
If Aldo loses to Pettis at 155 shouldn't he still be the Featherweight Champ? I call BS on him having to drop the belt.
Brett Okamoto (12:27 PM)
Yeah, I guess I don't really understand why you can't just make it that he has to decide which belt he wants to defend if he were to win both. That way, you can truly promote it as a champion vs. champion fight anyway. The downside of that, and it's likely why the UFC is saying he has to vacate immediately, is that you have to put the 145-pound title on hold while you market the Aldo, Pettis fight and then wait for the result. They could just do an interim title though, in that case, right? I'm with you, don't make Aldo drop the belt. Let him carry it into that 155 title fight. If he beats Pettis, then he can decide which belt to drop.
Dan Hardy's Mohawk (Chicago Hinterlands)
Chicago in the winter does suck ... but you grow an immunity to it. Like how Texans shrug off the brutal summer heat.Rumble vs. Phil Davis ... what you think of it? I like it a lot.
Brett Okamoto (12:29 PM)
Yeah, I get that in Las Vegas. You get used to the heat. 108 degree day doesn't feel as hot as it used to. But man, cold is different. Midwest, frigid, cold. I think it'd be easier to get used to heat than cold. Anyway, I like the Rumble, Davis fight. I just like Rumble in general. For some reason I'd like to see Rumble, Gustafsson. Not even sure why, just think it'd be good.
Aldo vs. Pettis: We all want to see it, but will we? Now Aldo coach says it should be at a catch weight. I put the odds at only 15% that the fight happens in 2014. What say you?
Brett Okamoto (12:29 PM)
It will happen at 155.
gary (815 illinois)
i ask about ufc 170 cuz im goin, w/each of the cancelled bouts having been announced, will the event stand at 9?, or will something be done on SHORT notice...?
Brett Okamoto (12:30 PM)
Something was done on short notice. I'm pretty sure they're back up to 11. UFC is always going to do what it can to get to 11 for that reason. People bought tickets.
Hector [via mobile]
Hey Brett. Is it me or do all the Brazilian fighter love to agree with the press and always spout out how it's whatever D.White wants and their happy to oblige. Than they head to Brazil and it's the complete opposite. Ala Jose Aldo.
Brett Okamoto (12:31 PM)
Yeah ... there's a little truth to that. The one who was awful at that was Anderson Silva. Anderson rarely, rarely gave anything at all to US media, and then he'd go on some talk show in Brazil and open up and start crying and give this great interview. What are you gonna do?
Lebron is talking aobut his Mt. Rushmore of NBA, so who is your Mt. Rushmore of MMA fighters?
Brett Okamoto (12:33 PM)
Hmmm, if we're talking fighters only, no promoters or what not ... off the top of my head mine would have to be Royce Gracie, Chuck Liddell, Fedor Emelianenko and Anderson Silva.
When might we see Demetrious Johnson fight again and agianst who?
Brett Okamoto (12:34 PM)
I believe it's ... against "whom." I try to keep this chat as informational as possible. Expect Johnson to fight in the spring ... and I think it's gonna be Ali Bagautinov. Who else is there?
Great chat as always. Showtime v Aldo July 4th weekend. What do you think? Perfect fight for that weekend.
Brett Okamoto (12:35 PM)
If Pettis can go, no brainer.
Ed (Belleville Mi)
With a dominant win over Rashad, would Cormier cut infront of Gus for the next title shot?
Brett Okamoto (12:36 PM)
I don't think so. As much interest as there is in Jones/Cormier (I, personally, have waaaay more interest in Jones/Cormier) I think the rematch with Gus would sell better and the UFC would do that first.
Parolee Proud (Rochester NY) [via mobile]
Greetins B.O., I just got my tickets to ufc 172 in Baltimore. Will you be there?? Im pretty pumped, im a huge Bones fan, the return of Rumble, Saffedine/Ellenberger, Rockhold, Joe Jitsu/Tim Elliot, Miller/Green. Stizzzacked. I really wanna arrive Fri for weigh ins, would you reccomend that I do and can you describe the atmosphere for the weigh ins??
Brett Okamoto (12:38 PM)
Wow, yeah, great card to see live now that you list all those. Love that Benavdiez/Elliott fight. You guys probably know by now I'm a Tim Elliott fan. Miller/Green is top shelf as well. I will be in Baltimore, yes, and I would sort of recommend going to the weigh-ins. If you're a huge fan but his might be your only live fight experience, you should probably go. It's not terrrrribly exciting and it's over pretty quick, but it's an experience. It will get you a little more excited for the fights, inevitably.
Ray (sd) [via mobile]
What happened to josh gross? Love your stuff, but I was a huge fan of his podcast.
Brett Okamoto (12:39 PM)
As was I. I know Josh loves doing it and I believe he intends to pick it back up at some point. Always loved talking fights with Josh on the podcast. ESPN is looking into starting up a new one focused exclusively on MMA, I'll keep you guys posted.
Any betting picks you like for this weekend?
Brett Okamoto (12:40 PM)
Nothing really calling my name, no. You can bet on the Machida, Mousasi bet not going to the fifth round and get +120 payback. I might be persuaded to take a shot on that prop.
Brett! You need to get a wikipedia page! JA and Ariel Helwani have one. You need one!!!
Brett Okamoto (12:40 PM)
Some day ....
What are the chances that the UFC and Fox extend their deal prior to the current one running out? If the UFC were to make a move to another network, who do you think would be the front runners?
Brett Okamoto (12:43 PM)
Interesting question ... I have no reason to think the two sides wouldn't want to extend the deal. When those conversations would take place, I'm not entirely sure. I've learned a lot about TV and broadcast deals over the years, but I still wouldn't consider myself an expert. Just a thought, I mean, at some point it wouldn't be shocking to see the UFC sign deals with multiple partners like other major leagues, right? So maybe the deal is extended, but it doesn't encompass the exclusivity that it does now.
Mark (Santa Cruz)
Luke Rockhold will get a UFC Title fight when?
Brett Okamoto (12:44 PM)
I would say not this year ... if he keeps winning, early early 2015.
JDS (Nova Uniao)
Brett- my man, where u at?
Brett Okamoto (12:44 PM)
Why is someone like Yancy Meideiros suspended for marijuana metabolites but Jessica Eye isn't? In the future do you think we will see fighters not being punished for marijuana?
Brett Okamoto (12:46 PM)
Different commissions can issue different suspensions for similar infractions ... it can happen with instances other than marijuana. Will we ever see a day where fighters are not punished for marijuana? I would say yes, some day. Will we ever see a day where marijuana is not illegal for recreational use in all 50 states? I would say yes. Athletic commissions right now ban marijuana because it's on the WADA banned substance list ... and there have been movements to eliminate it from that list. Yeah, it'll happen eventually.
I dont agree with what Silva did in any way but do you think the UFC should have given him his due process before banning him for life?
Brett Okamoto (12:47 PM)
No. Given the circumstances, that was the right call.
Even though it sounds ridiculous for Reem to call out Brock, if Brock did come back and that was his first fight in the UFC....would that PPV would be the highest selling card of 2014? Sadly, I think it's true...which says a lot about where MMA really is at this point in time.
Brett Okamoto (12:49 PM)
You want to hear something even more sad? What if the UFC talked Fedor out of retirement? Then THAT would be the highest selling PPV in 2014. A pro-wrestling star who hasn't fought since 2011 against a retired 37-year-old who finished his Strikeforce run on an 0-3 skid. The state of MMA has never been better in terms of high quality fighters in every weight class, but in terms of sellable fights, it's a down year right now.
Fight I am looking most forward to this weekend is Souza-Carmont. How do you see that fight going, and think it will be a good fight?
Brett Okamoto (12:51 PM)
I think Carmont is going to do everything he can to make it not a good fight. I don't say that to put him down, but that's gotta be his strategy, right? Use his length, jab, throw kicks to keep Jacare on the outside. If he gets top position, maintain it. Eat clock. These are all good things for Carmont. I think Jacare wins a decision.
Ross Bambino (Oakland)
Do you think at some point we will see Mighty Mouse move up to 135 to challenge Barao? And if so who would you favor, how do you see that fight?
Brett Okamoto (12:53 PM)
Johnson is only 27 so yeah, if he continues to dominate 125 there will definitely come a point where he decides to try out 135. Will Barao still be there by then? I guess it depends on when it were to happen. If it happened right now, Barao probably owns that fight because of his size. He'd be huge compared to Johnson. Speed can make up for a lot of that, for sure, but I just think Barao is too big man. He'd keep Johnson on the outside with kicks, there is really no way Johnson could get a takedown if he needed it. If Johnson were to move up and somehow beat Barao? Wow, he'd be my No. 1 P4P.
Jake (Saint Paul)
Any word on the Khabilov vs. Bendo fight? I saw the twitter banter this week, and they both seem game. I love that fight. I'd also like to see Bendo try and point fight a guy who will literally toss him on his head.Thoughts?
Brett Okamoto (12:54 PM)
Yeah, there are no obvious fights for Bendo right now anyway. Khabilov is as good as any.
Eric from Colorado [via mobile]
Why isn't there a Tue for marijuana? Even the NFL is reconsidering is stance about pain relief and head trauma relief via mj. What happens when a fighter is in Colorado or Washington where it's legal?
Brett Okamoto (12:56 PM)
They still have it on the banned substance list (Colorado, Washington). I feel like I should know this but I don't, has anyone tried to apply for a TUE for marijuana and been turned down? I know Nick Diaz pointed to his medicinal marijuana prescription after a failed test, but he didn't alert the commission beforehand to try and get a TUE. You can apply for a TUE for any banned substance, to my knowledge. Not sure how it would play out if someone did it for marijuana. Seems like something that would have happened already, but I can't think of an example.
Kevin Nazario (Rockledge Florida)
How do you feel about fighters using trt exemptions? Do you feel they provide an unfair advantage?
Brett Okamoto (12:58 PM)
I've always said ... you don't want to have the situation come up where a guy has a legitimate medical need for TRT through no fault of his own and he's unable to take it because it's banned. That's just not something you ever want to see happen. But as it is right now, these guys who suddenly have a need for it and it's more and more every day? It's terrible for the sport and yes I believe it can be an unfair advantage.
Ryan Gonzo (Columbus OH)
I keep hearing the Jose Aldo vs Anthony Pettis is almost a done deal. How close to it being a done deal is it really?
Brett Okamoto (12:59 PM)
I think Pettis' injury and the timetable for his return is a wrench right now in the process. You can't book the fight to a date when you don't know if Pettis will be physically ready. If you see any Tweets on Pettis' timeline that he's going to Las Vegas ... then you can get excited. The UFC will probably want its own physicians to check him out before they book the fight.
What is next for the Reem? JDS even though he is coming off of a loss?
Brett Okamoto (1:00 PM)
I'm in. Who cares if JDS is coming off the loss? That's a rule the UFC sort of lives by for good reason, but they don't ALWAYS have to follow it. I want to see that fight.
Ryan Gonzo (Columbus OH)
Belfort TRT has yet to apply for his TRT exemption, but would safe to assume he is probably using and training with it now before he has the exemption? At what point does the exemption come into effect and what sort of testing is done between fights?
Brett Okamoto (1:01 PM)
Supposedly, the UFC tests him even outside of fights. And, supposedly, if the UFC skips a week and doesn't test him, Belfort says he tests himself. The NSAC is expecting his application any day. They are reviewing their general TRT policy during a meeting on Feb. 27. I would pay attention to that meeting, as we'll probably get a good idea of the commission's feelings on TRT.
Does Francis Carmont have any chance against Jacare? Please tell me no. He is the new Okami and that's not a good thing
Brett Okamoto (1:03 PM)
Sorry Todd, he does have a chance. I'm picking Jacare, but anyone who says Carmont has ZERO chance is completely overlooking that Carmont is 1. intelligent in the way he fights, 2. pretty athletic, 3. a big middleweight, 4. not easy to submit, 5. a pretty good points fighter. All he has to do is win two rounds and survive a third. That's possible.
Do you think Faber and others are putting too much onus on Herb Dean? I mean he's fought for the title and lost 6 times..at some point he has to be accountable for himself...
Brett Okamoto (1:03 PM)
Faber even said that night that Dean is a great referee. He had to talk about the stoppage, that was the story of the night. But it's not like he blamed the loss on Herb.
How do you think the grappling between Rousey and McMann will go?
Brett Okamoto (1:04 PM)
I think the clinches and battles for position on the feet will be sort of awkward and relatively even ... but I think Rousey has a clear advantage once it hits the ground. I think she's quicker and stronger in scrambles and probably more comfortable off her back. Should be fun to watch, I'm pretty excited for this Rousey fight. More so than the last one against Tate.
How many fights do you think Overeem is away from a title shot? 2..beat JDS and Barnett?
Brett Okamoto (1:05 PM)
Not sure why it would be Barnett ... JDS and someone ... and then yeah, probably title shot. I don't think he'd get by JDS.
Scared Homie [via mobile] (209)
Any idea on Nick Diaz's situation? Did he make enough money with the GSP fight to retire for good?
Brett Okamoto (1:06 PM)
Absolutely not. The guy is 30. There is no way he has enough money to never work again a day in his life. I strongly believe we will see him fight again, most likely this year.
Ryan Gonzo (Columbus OH)
Jamie Varner vs Abel Trujillo was arguably the most entertaining fight so far this year. Especially that second round.
Brett Okamoto (1:07 PM)
It was good. You knew it was going to be good. Those two just match up that way. Even if they fought again and Varner was less aggressive, it would still be a great fight. I was shaking my head at Varner when he got knocked out ... that was a huuuuge mistake. But it got the crowd up and sometimes that's even better for your career than a win in the UFC.
Brett - Can we get your full card picks for Saturday? Any gambling suggestions? Parlays welcomed. Thanks.
Brett Okamoto (1:09 PM)
Alright, again, these aren't your full out Brett Certified picks. This just isn't a card I'd lay a lot of money on but here we go ... parlay ... Machida -230, Trinaldo -175, Blanco -115. Never know with Blanco, but come on. If there is one fight you'd think he wouldn't screw up in, it's gotta be this one.
What do you think of Diego Sanchez's next fight. Don't know a lot about Miles Jury - any insight and who are you taking?
Brett Okamoto (1:10 PM)
Myles Jury is good. Well rounded, pretty confident wherever the fight goes. The question you always ask yourself in a Sanchez fight is: How will Fighter A fare when it reaches that point where he's basically knocked Sanchez out five times but the man is still coming, spitting blood into the air, throwing haymakers? Will he keep his composure? I think Myles probably will.
Brett Okamoto (1:11 PM)
Alright guys, we have to end it there. I have a few interviews scheduled for this hour. Thanks again for chatting with me despite the time change. We should be back at the normal hour next week. Enjoy the rest of your week, follow me on Twitter @bokamotoESPN. See ya.
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