Chat with Brett Okamoto
Welcome to SportsNation! On Friday, 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 Friday at 1 p.m. ET!
Brett Okamoto (1:05 PM)
UFC is doing it again. Two fights in one day ... starting with prelims from New Zealand at 2:30 a.m. ET and ending with a main card in San Antonio that starts at 10 p.m. ET. Anybody crazy enough to watch them all? No? Didn't think so. Me neither. Let's have some fun today and chat about things.
Peter (Chicago) [via mobile]
I've heard Belfort is getting the winner of Weidman-Machida, but do you think he should face someone like Rockhold for a shot at the champ?
Brett Okamoto (1:07 PM)
I thought there was a chance we might see him fight someone on the Aug. 30 card in Las Vegas ... give that card a strong co-main or even a rare non-title main, but it doesn't sound that way and I've been hearing another bout to headline that card ... I guess I'm cool with Belfort still getting a title shot. Still have to see what Nevada does with him. I think when he finally appears before the commission he will get a license though.
morning brett - best wrestler? Cormier all day! what do you think?
Brett Okamoto (1:08 PM)
Tom! That was actually a question on this week's "Weigh-in" panel, with myself, Michael Huang and Chris Weidman. Check it out. http://espn.go.com/mma/story/_/id/11141072/machida-style-marquardt-future-more
Ed Belleville Mi [via mobile]
What are the chances Diaz fights Silva? And if so, does Diaz stand a chance? I see a similar fight to Anderson-Forrest.
Brett Okamoto (1:09 PM)
I would say no, Diaz doesn't stand a chance ... but Silva is coming off a SERIOUS leg injury. Who knows how close he'll be to what he was, you know? That's a big deal to get over, both physically and mentally. But my best guess is yeah, Silva would dominate Diaz. Will it happen? I think that's all on Nick. Silva's side wants it, the UFC would want it, all comes down to Nick.
Alex Peer Des Moines IA [via mobile]
Any word on what's next for Brandon Thatch? And do you know when Ben Rothwell will be back?
Brett Okamoto (1:10 PM)
Thatch should be good to go early fall. Honestly, no idea about Rothwell.
Henz Long Beach, CA [via mobile]
Most realistic fight u'd like to see happen this year?
Brett Okamoto (1:13 PM)
Hmmm, good question ... I want to see Dominick Cruz fight. Anybody really. Just from a personal standpoint, I always loved the way Cruz fought and, frankly, I'm dying to know what a guy like him looks like after this long of a layoff. So, Cruz vs. Anyone. Beyond that ... I'd like to see Rousey/Cyborg, but that's not happening this year. I'm intrigued in a Weidman/Jacare fight, but that won't be this year either. Same with Aldo/Pettis. Jones/Gustafsson is probably the main event scheduled right now I'm looking forward to most.
Robbie (Columbus, OH)
Is Rousey's dominance bad for Women's MMA? It's hard for a sport to grow when the talent gap between the champion and everyone is so wide that no one can even truly be considered a threat.
Brett Okamoto (1:14 PM)
I think you're right in a sense, but also wrong. I think Alexis Davis doesn't really capture much of people's imagination ... but if Rousey fights the Caranos, Cyborgs, Holms and Zinganos she'll move the needle even if she continues to roll through them. This particular fight is a little lackluster just because no one knows who Alexis is.
alisson [via mobile]
Hi brett. Im intrested to hear your take on the middleweight division. All the contenders such as belfort souza machida rockhold etc.. if souza wins the rematch at 176 against mousassi and belfort gets cleared, what match ups would you make given the standings? Also if anderson wins a tune up fight and dana decides to put him back into the title picture, do you think he can beat the champ?
Brett Okamoto (1:17 PM)
I've said before Jacare is pretty much a title contender at this point in my eyes. He's basically in that, "just win a few fights while you wait for the shot" mode. I think he'll beat Mousasi ... maybe not. Not counting Mousasi out, but I like Jacare there. I'm not surprised the UFC has told Belfort he'll get the Weidman/Machida winner. Lot of attention on Belfort right now, might as well have him headline in a title fight his next time out. So, Belfort will be next, then Jacare (assuming he beats Mousasi and then maaaaybe one more) ... I kind of don't see Jacare fighting Rockhold again, but maybe depending on how the timing works out. If Anderson ever fought Weidman again, I'd pick Weidman but still think Anderson is capable of winning that fight, of course.
Marc Iveson (UK)
Hey man. Soooooooooooo pumped for the July weekend of fights. Will you be covering both events? Gotta love your job when you see fight cards like UFC 175 pop up followed the next night by BJ Penn Vs Frankie!
Brett Okamoto (1:18 PM)
Next week is going to be crazy. Not only all the 175 and TUF Finale events, but "International Fight Week" events, too. Looking forward to it. And yeah, the fights are always the best part. Everything else can occasionally get tedious, but once the fights start you're right. Easy to love my job at that point.
Vince (State College PA)
Two Parter: Let me Preface by saying I am a TUF season 1 junky. I re-watched the season at least 4 times, but I'm not so sure I agree with Dana that every cast member should be inducted. Leben, Sanchez, Swick, Kos, kenflo sure but everyone thats stretching it. Where do you stand on that? Secondly do you think the next season of TUF will breathe some life back in the series? For me it feels like a chore watching it anymore
Brett Okamoto (1:20 PM)
1. I don't really care much about the HoF, but you asked for my opinion so I would say, sure. Induct them all. Why not? They were all part of history. I think it'd be cool to do that. 2. Maybe a little. I do think the strawweight women will bring some energy and talent to the show we haven't seen in a few seasons. But ultimately, that show needs to change its format man. I've been saying that on chats for years. It's a stale format.
Ed Belleville Mi [via mobile]
What's up Brett? Do you see the BJ/Edgar winner getting the next shot? Or does Cub cut in line with an impressive showing this weekend?
Brett Okamoto (1:21 PM)
I talked to Cub about it and he seemed concerned the BJ/Edgar winner would jump him in line. So I said, "So, Cub, are you going to make some noise on the mic after you beat Stephens this weekend to make sure that doesn't happen?" And he basically responded, "not my style." Alright. I get it's not your style, but you're kind of hurting yourself if you don't do it. I think it should be Cub next, but you never know. We'll have to see how the fights go.
The Smiling Knight (Coram/NY)
Would the UFC consider to rework Nate Diaz's contract (assuming he wins he next fight) if he gets his brother Nick to take a fight ?
Brett Okamoto (1:22 PM)
Don't think it works like that. And I've always said no, I don't think the UFC will rework Nick's contract. Because then everyone will want to rework their contract.
Davis (Boston )
If Alexis Davis beats Rousey a la Dillashaw-Barao, the UFC will give Ronda a rematch right?
Brett Okamoto (1:23 PM)
Broto - nobody has really brought this up but do you think BJ will have issues making 145? Given his age and the fact that he's never fought at 145 I can see this ending up as a catchweight, no?
Brett Okamoto (1:24 PM)
Certainly possible. It's not that no one has brought it up. That was one of the first things I asked Dana White when it was announced. "Dana, aren't you concerned BJ will miss weight?" And his response was basically, "BJ has promised me he'll make it." Oh, okay. BJ's got Mike Dolce with him in Hawaii. We'll see. That will be an interesting weigh-in.
Garrett G (Paducah KY)
What fighter has the most to lose/gain from this weekend of UFC Fight Nights?
Brett Okamoto (1:26 PM)
The name that comes to my mind is Nate Marquardt. This is a fight which, for me, will sort of say whether or not Nate should even be fighting at all anymore. If he looks terrible, he's likely cut. Underrated fight of the weekend is Clint Hester vs. Antonio Braga Neto. I'm pretty intrigued by that one. I've liked watching Hester evolve in his last few fights.
royal from visalia [via mobile]
brown or lawler? andare you a fan of Godzilla yet?
Brett Okamoto (1:27 PM)
Lawler. And Godzilla ... the movie? Haven't seen the new one yet. Wife refuses to go.
I really would think seeing Belfort fight post TRT would be a safer play then throwing him in with the champ right away. From what I've read, his testosterone was much much higher on the TRT. That will play a role.
Brett Okamoto (1:29 PM)
If Belfort loses badly to Weidman (or Machida), how is that bad for the UFC though? You see what I'm saying? That's a big money fight for the UFC ... if Belfort gets dominated, it boosts the cred of the champ.
Jim Bob (the Counter)
Any picks to cash this weekend?
Andy [via mobile]
Am I crazy to think a -260 Cub is easy $$$?
Brett Okamoto (1:29 PM)
Alright, finally, getting to the gambling questions ...
Brett Okamoto (1:31 PM)
I do like Cub to win the fight ... at -260 I'd probably pass though. I like Te Huna to win, probably pass at -220. Mike Rhodes +235 could be a sleeper underdog. I kind of like Andy Enz -175 over Marcelo Guimaraes, too.
Tyler (Houston) [via mobile]
Regarding to the first question , what is the bout you heard to main event the Aug. 30 card?
Brett Okamoto (1:33 PM)
Bantamweight title fight. NOT confirmed yet. But I've heard that's what they're looking at. I'd expect them to announce the main event of that card soon though, coming up fast.
Brett Okamoto (1:34 PM)
And it sounds like company's first choice for Dillashaw is a Barao rematch.
Rusty D (Denver, CO)
Happy Friday! Had a couple questions for you:1) Do you think we have gotten to a point of over saturation as far as the UFC goes? Maybe it's just me, but it feels like the "big" fights now don't have near the feeling that they did even a couple years ago. I don't know if it's because we have a GSP-less and a Anderson Silva-less UFC these days, but I'm curious to see what you think since you are in the industry.2) What the heck is going on with our Rockies? Getting no hit...wild pitch clearing the bases...it's painful being a Rockies fan. I don't know if my heart can take many more years of starting strong, then fading fast with a final push at the end of the season that comes up just short.Thanks Brett!
Brett Okamoto (1:37 PM)
Rox ... injuries have been whacky man. I'm trying to see that as the silver lining. Maybe we'd be good if our entire rotation hadn't gone down. On the over-saturation, we've talked about this a lot, I'll just say that I get the UFC's business model. PPV in general is a declining business. It's going to change over the next few years. They have a certain number of shows they have to put on with FS1 and then they have "global" shows to build the sport in new markets. It's going to take time, the best thing that can happen in these global markets is that the sport gains traction and local talent emerges. Long way from that in certain areas. But UFC is in it for the long haul and to promote the sport worldwide, so I get why they are putting on so many shows.
If Machida defeats Weidman, does Anderson Silve even make an attempt at the belt ever again? And on a side note, chicken sandwich or tacos for lunch today?
Brett Okamoto (1:38 PM)
Yeah, I think Anderson would go for the belt eventually even if Machida held it. I don't think the belt is really on Anderson's mind right now? Could be wrong ... but I would guess he just wants to get healthy and get back in and have a fight, see where it goes. But if the situation ever came down to that was the obvious fight, it seems to me like they would both take it. Machida told me just yesterday he can't even remember the last time they worked out together, but it had been a long time.
With his win over Bisping, does Tim Kennedy pose a threat to the middleweight crown?
Brett Okamoto (1:40 PM)
No. Kennedy is a guy who can make a good fighter look terrible if they aren't prepared for his style, but you look at the times he stepped up in competition ... lost to Rockhold, lost to Jacare. If stars align he might keep his win streak going a bit further, but I don't see him as a UFC champ, no.
I'm excited for the UFC's return to AC. Love the Cerrone-Miller and Barbosa-Dunham matchups. Also think Tibua-Healy could be exciting and Lineker is fun to watch. Any of the undercard fights have sleeper material?
Brett Okamoto (1:41 PM)
Yeah, solid main event. Expecting Cerrone to look good in that one. Under the radar fight there, Aljamain Sterling vs. Hugo Viana, for sure. Keep an eye on that one, should be fun and Sterling has a ton of potential.
Alex (Concord, MA)
Brett, after a little over two years of women's MMA in the UFC, how would you say the company has done in promoting it? It feels that unless Rousey is fighting, they still ignore the women and haven't done anything to promote any female fighter not named Rousey or Tate.
Brett Okamoto (1:44 PM)
Pretty much, but on the other hand, what do you want them to do? They've put a handful of fights on televised main cards. They've got TUF coming out. It costs money to send a crew out to do a "Primetime" or "Countdown" type of treatment and let's be real, they aren't going to foot that bill for a Bethe Correia vs. Jessamyn Duke fight, you know? I don't think they are ignoring the women, I just think there are only a handful of women worth truly investing promotion dollars in right now.
Sterling (Columbia, SC)
Any chance MMA makes changes to the unified rules anytime soon? I'd like to see the 12 to six elbow, the head upkick of a downed opponent, and kneeing the head of an opponent in the tri-pod position all legalized. Your Thoughts?
Brett Okamoto (1:46 PM)
Those types of discussions would take place at the annual ABC convention, which this year is from July 26-30. I could see them discussing it, feels like the knee to the downed opponent tripod one has earned a lot of attention over the last year, but as far as whether or not they'll make a change? Tough to say. We'll see.
With BJ/EdgarIII only a week away, any reason to feel more hopeful that BJ can somehow pull off a W?
Brett Okamoto (1:47 PM)
I'd love to say yes. Really would. But Edgar has fast feet and that (at this weight) is a BJ killer. I don't see Edgar losing.
zjoin85 (St. Louis)
I have purchased over 100 UFC PPVs. That's roughly $5,250. Can anyone beat that? Just wondering.
Brett Okamoto (1:48 PM)
All time favorite?
Mike (Waverly, NY)
Have you heard anything recently about Korean Zombie and when he will fight next?
Brett Okamoto (1:50 PM)
He's been recovering all year from injury. Told UFC Tonight awhile back he wanted to fight Ricardo Lamas. Lamas fights on the San Antonio card this weekend. If he comes away healthy, wouldn't be shocked to see that fight.
Tim (Brighton, MA)
Hey Brett,The middleweights are getting all wrapped up in fights. What's next for my man Luke? Tim Kennedy rematch is all that comes to mind that wouldn't be a step back. Whattya think?
Brett Okamoto (1:53 PM)
Makes sense to me. The only other fight I'd want to see him in is a Belfort/Rockhold rematch. That's why I thought maybe we'd see Belfort on the Aug. 30 card ... get him licensed, give a promotional boost to what might be a somewhat weak card, Rockhold's been asking for it ... seems win-win-win. But then Belfort said he's been told he's next.
The Smiling Knight (Coram/NY)
What do you think about a Takanori Gomi vs KJ Noons ?
Brett Okamoto (1:54 PM)
.... sure. Doesn't get my blood pressure raised if that's what you're asking, but stylistically that fight would make sense.
zjoin85 (St. Louis)
Probably 117 (sonnen/silva), because I thought I was about to witness the biggest upset ever. Very exciting fight to watch. And of course 100. Most stacked card.
Brett Okamoto (1:56 PM)
See, I think by the end of it 100 didn't really deliver. The GSP/Alves fight was pretty tame. Brock's post-fight speech was better than the fight itself. I'd have to think about it but the best PPV I can remember is 116. Carwin gassing, Leben/Akiyama, Bonnar/Soszynski rematch. That was an awesome card.
While I agree that Diaz and Silva fight would be a fun fight....I sort of dislike the whole idea....Diaz was convincing lost his last two fights, ran his mouth as usual, put himself in retirement cuz he couldnt bear the fact that he got man-handled by GSP and don't want to be the "Gatekeeper"....and now we give him Silva, considered as one of the top P4P fighter, who broke his leg last Dec....Can you imagine the stuff that gonna come out from his mouth is he actually win?
Brett Okamoto (1:59 PM)
I agree on all fronts but at the same time, Silva is 39. There are only so many fights for him at this point that make sense. Trust me, I'm with you on the "not giving Diaz something he doesn't deserve," but Silva is coming off back-to-back losses. It's not like giving Diaz a title shot. For me, when Silva returns, the only options for him should be Diaz, Bisping or GSP (if he comes back and says that's a fight he wants).
So, no Jones or Gus at UFC Fan Expo? What kind of marketing strategy omits arguably its two most popular fighters and the cover athletes of their new video game?
Brett Okamoto (2:00 PM)
I honestly hadn't heard they wouldn't be in Las Vegas. I agree with you if that's true, pretty puzzling.
Loved UFC 116 - Leben's comeback may have been my favorite MMA gambling moment ever. The only one I remember as fondly was Tim Boetsch coming out in the 3rd round as a killer against Okami. What was your best surprise win of a fight you thought was lost?
Brett Okamoto (2:02 PM)
The most shocking comeback that immediately comes to my mind is Mike Russow knocking out Todd Duffee (DUFF!!!!) at UFC 114. Duff beat the brakes off Russow for about 12 minutes but just refused to put him away and then one punch by Russow, bam, Duff was out. I think I might have even yelled out of surprise, couldn't help it.
Brett Okamoto (2:04 PM)
Alright good chat guys, let's wrap for the day. Tweet me during the fights if you watch them ... some good action between the two of them. I like the Oliveira, Hioki fight in New Zealand ... Dias/Lamas, Neto/Hester, Swanson/Stephens all good fights in San Antonio. Check out Ray Borg if you get a chance as well. Promising flyweight. Tweet me anytime and we'll see you back here next week for a UFC 175 chat. Later!