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 (1:02 PM)
Alright. Good morning (afternoon) depending on where you are. Today I come to you from a hotel lobby in Sunnyvale, Calif., which is just to the west of San Jose. Whenever I'm here (San Jose), I always think of Fedor losing. The one and only time I saw Fedor Emelianenko fight was his loss to Fabricio Werdum, which was of course shocking at the time. That is one press conference I'll never forget. Anyway, plenty to talk about this week. Don't be afraid to ask questions. Thanks for being here.
Mike Edmonton [via mobile]
Hey Brett I was wondering who do u think poses the biggest threat to the champ lawler or brown
Brett Okamoto (1:03 PM)
That was one question in "The Weigh-in" panel which we do every week, that should go up on the site later today. My response was Robbie Lawler, for sure. He fought Hendricks already, is familiar with him, would make adjustments. I'm sure he has things he would change in a second fight. I also just think Robbie is a better overall fighter than Brown. That's not a slight on Brown, Robbie is just one of the absolute best welterweights in the world. I'd give him a better shot at beating Hendricks than Brown.
Raff (Phila) [via mobile]
I may be in the minority, but the BLATANT hypocrisy of the UFC and NSAC on PEDs has drastically reduced my interest in the sport. Have you noticed similar sentiment from other fans?
Brett Okamoto (1:05 PM)
Not really, actually. I think people get angry and they say things like you just said in the moment, but when the fight comes, they still want to see it. It's sad, but it's been this way in combat sports for a long time, including boxing, some fans just don't really care if fighters are on something. I shouldn't say they don't care, but they're not seriously interested in it. They just want to see a good fight.
NICK DIAZ (STOCKTON) [via mobile]
Brett I'm back! Don't be scared to answer my question HOMIE! Other than Anderson Silva, who should i face, play Joe Silva and Sean shelby.
Brett Okamoto (1:06 PM)
If Matt Brown loses, Matt Brown. If Robbie Lawler loses, Robbie Lawler. I think it's a no-brainer to have Diaz fight the loser of Saturday. Unless they decide to hold him out until Anderson Silva is healthy, which they very well might do. One sidenote, this is an interesting sport man. Diaz/Silva would be a big time PPV ... and yet, Diaz hasn't won a fight since late 2011. Silva since late 2012. In what other sport can guys lose and disappear and not compete and yet comeback and makeup one of the biggest events of the year? Pretty crazy when you think about it.
Daniel [via mobile]
What's your take on Overeem asking for a title shot if he beats rothwell?
Brett Okamoto (1:09 PM)
Pretty awful. I'm all for getting on the mic and asking for stuff but let's keep it real just a liiiiitle bit. Guy was removed from a title fight for a failed drug test and has gone 1-2 since, with a win over the basically retired Frank Mir. Come on.
Avery (209) [via mobile]
So pumped about diaz! Do you think if (IF) he faced Johnny Hendricks, he would stand a chance? And would he beat Lawler again if they were to square off?
Brett Okamoto (1:11 PM)
I don't think he'd stand much of a chance against Johny, no. Johny has shown good cardio, great chin, obvious knockout power, he could wrestle Diaz if he wanted to. Johny wins that fight 80 percent of the time. Would he beat Lawler again? I'd love to see that fight. I would probably pick Lawler. Hard not to, with Lawler knocking people out and Diaz sitting in the stands the last two years.
Brett Okamoto (1:11 PM)
Or year and a half I should say.
Junior Dos Santos [via mobile]
Dude! Who am I fighting next? Where am I?
Brett Okamoto (1:12 PM)
It's going to be Stipe Miocic. I had hopes for Overeem but no, Stipe.
Taj [via mobile]
Yooo i hope i make it to the chat! I Really strongly believe that Robbie Lawler Can beat Johnny Hendricks (if he beats Brown) what's your take? Also do you see Weidman beating Belfort? Thanks dude
Brett Okamoto (1:13 PM)
I'll probably pick Hendricks over Lawler again, but anything can happen in that fight. Curious what the odds will be. Will they be closer than they were last time since the fight was so close? Weidman beating Belfort, yes. I see that happening.
Johnny [via mobile]
Quick Question: Who Wins in prime: Junior Dos Santos Vs Fedor Emilinanko? Interesting...
Brett Okamoto (1:14 PM)
I have to say JDS. Fedor got hit a lot. JDS has looked bad twice against Cain, but other than that, he doesn't get taken down, he's got a great chin and I would bet he hits harder than Fedor did. Yep, gotta pick JDS.
Thomas Sanchez [via mobile]
Is there any news on Jimi Manuwa Phil Davis and Glover Texeria? Can't find any news..
Brett Okamoto (1:15 PM)
Rumblings of Davis vs. Teixeira later this year. Wouldn't be surprised to see Manuwa end up on Stockholm card in October.
Jon (Long Island)
For all the talk about there being no real legitimate threats for Rousey right now, can't the same be said about DJ and the flyweight division? The only guys I'd have any interest in seeing DJ fight are Dodson (hurt), Benavidez and McCall. The Cariaso fight does absolutely nothing for me. This situation can't be helping the UFC's quest to get fans more interested in the lower weight classes.
Brett Okamoto (1:17 PM)
On one hand, having DJ fight Cariaso does not help the division garner more interest. For sure. On the flip side of that, the fact it has a dominant champion *should help it, although it really hasn't so far. Usually, a dominant champion is a relatively good thing in terms of exposure, but people aren't getting behind Johnson I think due mostly to the fighting style and he holds back on personality. Doesn't say much. They flyweight division is actually pretty deep, it's just young. There are a lot of talented guys under the age of 25 at 125.
Patrick [via mobile]
Hey Brett, obviously were all bummed about the gustaffson injury, just an early prediction, who do ya got? Interested to get your insight
Brett Okamoto (1:18 PM)
Jones and I'm surprised the odds are as close as they are. Cormier is faster than he gets credit for, he's unafraid at closing distance and his wrestling is phenomenal of course, but I think Jones keeps him at length, kicks out his legs, works the body here and there, defends takedowns ... I'll be picking Jones in that fight.
Ed Belleville Mi [via mobile]
UFC 178 is looking stacked. Besides Jones-Cormier we got the return of Cruz and McGregor vs a legit top 10 featherweight. All thats missing is a solid co main event. Any ideas?
Brett Okamoto (1:20 PM)
Pretty sure the co-main will be McGregor vs. Poirier and in my mind, that's a very solid choice. The fight should deliver and by placing them in the co-main slot, it ups their pre-fight exposure, which I would think the UFC would want. If I were the UFC, I'd be dedicating plenty of air time and video packages to that fight.
Craig Kansas city [via mobile]
How do you see Jones/ DC fight going? Seems like Jones reach advantage will be too much for DC
Brett Okamoto (1:22 PM)
Yeah, I think DC is super intelligent and knows he has to get inside on Jones. He can't waste time and stand in front of him, has to move his feet, get inside with combinations and look for takedowns. Jones will be drilling footwork and counter striking for that though. I think he'll get to DC's legs with kicks and eventually his rushes are going to fade. Once you don't have the bounce and energy to get inside Jones' reach, you're just target practice for him.
Next time you see Anik tell him the ESPN chat says hello.
Brett Okamoto (1:22 PM)
Might see him today, will do.
Papote (Domincan Republic)
I don't see an improvement with a win for Josh Thomson. Were does he goes next with a win
Brett Okamoto (1:24 PM)
Ha, he was actually asked yesterday, "How's it feel to get an opponent change where if you win now, it doesn't move you as much." And he just simply said, "It sucks." In reality though, I don't know if a whole lot has changed. There is that log jam at the top with Pettis injured for so long, Thomson really isn't going anywhere anyway. Would have have jumped into the Top 3 with a win over Michael Johnson? I don't think so. So, I don't see a huge letdown for him now that he's fighting Bobby Green. Thomson/Cerrone would make a lot of sense.
Brett, give us a parlay for this weekend
Brett Okamoto (1:26 PM)
Thomson -260, Cummins -150, Cruickshank +215, Lawler -355 pays about 8-to-1.
Derek [via mobile]
I am traveling a bunch next week. Should I check with Vitor or the NSAC about upping my testosterone dosages to avoid even lower T?
Brett Okamoto (1:27 PM)
No need to check with them. The obvious answer is load up.
Does it seem like the UFC is rushing talk of an interim title with Aldo injured? They didn't rush to make one with Cain out for a year (twice).
Brett Okamoto (1:28 PM)
No doubt. The reason they would do it is to create a PPV headliner. The UFC clearly doesn't want to promote a PPV anymore unless there is a title fight at the top. In my opinion at least, that's the reason they would create an interim title tag. It's just a marketability move.
Matt NJ [via mobile]
Long time no speak Brett... Fill in the blank: Cormier has to take Jones down_____ times to win?
Brett Okamoto (1:29 PM)
Numerous. Each round. Not easy to put a hard number on it, but I would say if he gets into the 7-8 range he'd be looking good.
Oh hi, Brett. Who is next for my new favorite fighter (sorry Loyoto) Gunner Nelson? Winner of the Thompson, Green fight? Ps. Joe Riggs!!!
Brett Okamoto (1:31 PM)
Hey diddy. Are you being sneaky here and suggesting Gunnar should drop to lightweight?? Because if you are, I like it. I think though you got your weight classes crossed. Gunnar is a welterweight. Next fight for Gunnar ... how about winner of Brandon Thatch vs. Jordan Mein?
Did Bellator cut Joe Riggs? I thought he had a contract because he won fight master?
Brett Okamoto (1:34 PM)
You would he would have. Why run a reality show and then not keep the winner? Have to admit that was a confusing one to me. You would think they would have hammered that detail out before the show even aired.
Who would you match Holly Holm up with first? I'd like to see her fight Kaufmann.
Brett Okamoto (1:36 PM)
Someone she can beat. IMO, it doesn't matter who it is. The draw is Holly Holm in the Octagon. The other woman in the cage can be anyone. Let's not kid ourselves and say the UFC doesn't want her to win. Someone like a Sarah Moras, who is coming off a win but you expect Holm to beat.
Still putting the house on Bones, you're not talking me out of it... Also, best fight of the weekend other than the main event? I like Masvidal/Cruikshank. You?
Brett Okamoto (1:37 PM)
I would say Thomson/Green.
Shaun (Chicago) [via mobile]
Do you feel the loading of UFC 178 is an attempt to recoup lower than normal ppv sales. Do you ever see the ufc returning to a format where 7-8 fights in a card display top 10-15 talent. As someone who flies out to events, I'm questioning my desire to spend 2k on "just a great main card" type of event.
Brett Okamoto (1:39 PM)
Nah, I think the UFC really does try to "load" most PPVs. I don't see 178 as being THAT much better than the average one. These fights are sort of coming together at the end of the year, like they did last year. Sometimes you just get lucky with the schedule. They wanted Conor in Las Vegas, he and Poirier were ready to go, so add it to the card. I'm not saying they don't try to blow out certain cards, but no I don't think this is some reaction necessarily to lower PPV numbers.
guida or bermudez? I'm torn
Brett Okamoto (1:40 PM)
Me too. I picked Guida but I really don't know. Guida is very underrated in his scrambling ability. He tends to get the position he wants when it's sort of chaotic out there and Bermudez can be chaotic. He's probably not going to walk Guida around the cage and pick him apart. There's going to be some messy moments in this fight and I like Guida when a fight gets like that.
Winner of Masvidal/Cruickshank gets ________?
Brett Okamoto (1:40 PM)
Mike (NC) [via mobile]
What's your view on the idea of an interim belt? There seems to have been more talk about it with champions such as aldo and pettis being out for so long, but the interim belt seems a bit pointless.... just feels like a glorified #1 contender bout
Brett Okamoto (1:41 PM)
Yep. Like I said before, it's basically for marketing purposes. Call a fight a title fight, even though it's not reaaaallllly a title fight. Although, we consider interim champions to be "world champions" in a sense, so I'm sure the fighters involved appreciate it.
Kevin (Mile High)
Any word on Nick Diaz' new contract numbers?
Brett Okamoto (1:43 PM)
No. I'll be interested to see them if he fights in a jurisdiction that releases them. I would assume PPV points is included in his deal. You guys see the photo of he, Lorenzo and Dana? Such a canned, fake-looking smile on Diaz. I'm not saying he was unhappy, hopefully he was happy at the time of the pic, but it was just funny seeing him standing between the two with this look like, 'I guess I have to smile for this.'
Looking back it's hard to believe that Guida beat Pettis.
Brett Okamoto (1:44 PM)
Yeah it is. Pettis needed work in his defensive wrestling of course, but I think that fight goes beyond that. Pettis was not up for that fight at all. He was supposed to fight Frankie Edgar for the title, but then that whole draw thing happened and he ends up fighting Guida at the Palms on a small show? He didn't handle the buzzkill well.
Hey Brett. What's the latest with TJ Grant, I feel he should be recovered by now from a concussion???
Brett Okamoto (1:45 PM)
Man, everything I was hearing sounded like he was making progress. But the rumors of a MacDonald, Saffiedine fight headlining the Halifax card is not a good sign that Grant is close to returning.
Parolee Proud (Rochester NY) [via mobile]
The one guy that currently fights outside the UFC that would have the most success in the Octagon would bea?ŽI'd say Minakov due to the lack of talent in the HW division.
Brett Okamoto (1:47 PM)
Yeah, maybe because of the lack of talent like you say. I don't think he's at the top of my list though. Just in terms of who I would want to see in the UFC? I mean, Ben Askren is definitely right there. You want to see this guy challenged. I would also really love to see how Eduardo Dantas and Marlon Moraes would do in UFC's bantamweight division. Those might even be my Top 2 I'd want to watch.
I have to look for that photo I don't think I've ever seen Nick smile. Maybe it looked fake because it was his first one.
Brett Okamoto (1:48 PM)
Nah, Nick actually smiles a lot when he's backstage, loose, hanging out. Look at the photo though. I found it pretty funny.
Name Forthischat (New york)
Am I wrong for feeling kind of sorry for Vitor? He looked incredibly emotional at the NSAC hearing. Not justifying it, but I try feel like deep down he loves fighting and will do w.e Nevada wants him to do if it means he can keep fighting.
Brett Okamoto (1:50 PM)
Uh, yeah. You're wrong for feeling sorry for Vitor. He's got a positive test for anabolic steroids on his resume. When that happened, he didn't respect it and fought outside the jurisdiction before his suspension was up. He tested for high levels of testosterone in his blood, when he told us all a million times he was never high. He wouldn't talk about TRT when he first got on it, but later said he never had anything to hide. He held back tears at the beginning of that hearing, but I saw him after it and he was on Cloud 9. He's fighting for a UFC title in December. So, no. Do not pity Vitor Belfort.
You think Gus retains the #1 contender spot once back from injury or does he have to go back out there and win a tune up fight before facing either Cormier or Jones?
Brett Okamoto (1:50 PM)
He'll retain it.
Jud (MN) [via mobile]
Seems like a lot of body shots have been stopping fights. Is this the new trend, like what we saw with the front kick after silva KO'd Belfort?
Brett Okamoto (1:51 PM)
I really don't know why it wouldn't be. I've wondered for years why guys don't go to the body more. Just yesterday, Matt Brown told me, 'people don't realize body shorts hurt a hell of a lot more than head shots.'
Who does Rumble get next with a win over Lil Nog? Winner of OSP vs. Bader?
Brett Okamoto (1:52 PM)
Probably. He's basically right there behind Cormier already because he beat Phil so bad. He'll sort of be in that position where it's like, just fight guys who are coming off wins while you wait your turn. There's nowhere higher for him to go, so he's fighting to keep his place.
How about MacDonald/Diaz? Nick is ready to fight tonight!
Brett Okamoto (1:53 PM)
Nah. I'd be surprised if the UFC paid Diaz a bunch of money to go in and lose his third fight in a row to MacDonald, who doesn't REALLY need the popularity boost that bad. I think for Diaz it has to be loser of tomorrow or Anderson.
Keith (kentucky) [via mobile]
After Eddie Alvarez contract is up with bellator does he join the UFC? And if he beats chandler again, does he get an immediate title shot or someone like Ben Henderson?
Brett Okamoto (1:56 PM)
Well, earlier this year I would have said absolutely to Alvarez leaving. He has one fight left on his contract and my guess is he was looking forward to sticking it to Bjorn and the Bellator family by leaving the promotion with their belt around his waist. Now that Scott Coker has come in though, will that change? What can Coker offer Eddie? Do they throw a massive contract at the free agent to keep him? If they offer to pay more, I think Eddie will follow the money. If he does end up in the UFC, I do think he'd get an immediate title shot.
Any news on Rashad Evans?
Brett Okamoto (1:56 PM)
He's in the gym but taking it very light. Recovery is on-schedule though, from what his team told me.
Am I crazy for thiking that the UFC 178 card will pull at least 2.5x more PPV buys then the UFC 177 card?
Brett Okamoto (1:57 PM)
No, not at all.
Tim (Brighton, MA)
Hey Brett,Let's assume the Belfort Weidman fight goes down (which I do feel it will), what's left in the division right now for Luke?? I feel like he's in the perfect time to really surge, coming off a couple real nice wins, is it Bisping? Is that his only play right now? Kind of a no-win situation, but I guess that's it? I still think he needs 2 wins probably, Jacare might have the edge in terms of Weidman/Jacare winner, thoughts?
Brett Okamoto (1:59 PM)
Luke must think it's Bisping. He's been attacking him on Twitter quite a bit lately. If I'm Luke, other than just wanting to make money, I'm not in a real hurry to take any fight right now. He's popular enough that people aren't forgetting about him. Why take any fight that won't significantly elevate you at this point? If I were him, I'd collect as much money on the side as I can through sponsor deals, appearances, whatever, keep talking trash to Bisping and hope he beats Cung Le.
Does Cerrone get 2 more fights before the end of the year?
Brett Okamoto (1:59 PM)
Never know with that guy, I'm guessing he only gets one more though.
I read Stann's comment on the NSAC decision for Sonnen and Belfort...and I have to agree his observation....both Sonnen and Belfort are repeat offenders...both have fairly "fishy" background stories to go with....and one is ban fo 2 years and the other fighting for the belt in Dec....does not make sense to me
Brett Okamoto (2:01 PM)
They are similar when you look at them in the way you characterized it, taking their entire careers and "fishy" stories into account, but when you look at what the NSAC had on them, it's very, very different. With Belfort, they had a failed urine test that actually didn't prove much and a voluntarily submitted blood test that showed his T levels were above normal. With Chael, they had two failed tests for a total of five banned substances. Chael was caught red-handed. Belfort ... the case wasn't quite as strong. So, they were very different in that respect.
Jeffrey Custer Knoxville TN [via mobile]
Huge Diaz fan here, both would get beat soundly by 6/10 top ten guys, other than money, why the huge concern for them to come back, if most fight fans only care about the top 10 anyway.
Brett Okamoto (2:03 PM)
That's the thing, most fight fans don't care about just the Top 10. What are the biggest fights the UFC is looking at right now? Silva/Diaz would be massive, and neither of them has won since 2012. Rousey/Carano would be insanely massive and Carano hasn't fought in five years. Most of the time, wins do matter ... but sometimes, obviously, they do not.
Parolee Proud (Rochester NY) [via mobile]
Best fighter that no one has ever heard of is...?? Not literally no one but not many people have heard of.
Brett Okamoto (2:04 PM)
Right now, I think they're the young flyweights. Kyoji Horiguchi, Ray Borg, Justin Scoggins. Throw Dustin Ortiz in there.
Karo Parisyan v Phi Baroni. Your interest level on a scale of 1 to 10?
Brett Okamoto (2:05 PM)
5. Not nearly as high as some others. Not hating, just being honest. If I were to miss it, my life would continue.
Will Wanderlei get a punishment closer to Vitor or Chael?
Brett Okamoto (2:06 PM)
Definitely Chael. He won't get 2 years I don't think ... but my guess is at minimum he'll get 9 months from the day of the test, which was in May.
Barry (High Point, NC)
Does Nick's contract agreement mean we will see Nate back in the Octagon soon also?
Brett Okamoto (2:08 PM)
Doesn't work like that. It took a long time for Nick and the UFC to reach an agreement ... I think Nate is in a different spot. I don't think his leverage is as high as his brother's. Nate wants to renegotiate his deal but from what I've heard, the UFC hasn't budged on it yet.
Sam [via mobile]
Cung le will beat bisping, yay or nay?
Brett Okamoto (2:08 PM)
He could. He definitely could. I think Bisping is going to want to wrestle in that fight.
Brett Okamoto (2:10 PM)
Alright, let's call it a day. Thanks for the questions as always guys. Hop on ESPN.com later today for the Weigh-in segment. Josh Thomson was our guest panelist and spoke about Belfort getting licensed, McGregor-Poirier fight, Jones-Cormier matchup. It was good stuff. And spread the word about the chat, we'll do it again next week same day, same time. Enjoy the weekend.