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 (1:02 PM)
Ah yes. Another good old fashioned Wednesday chat. Lots to discuss today. Let's get right to it.
I've missed the chat for some weeks Brett, nba playoffs have consumed me. Go spurs go!
Brett Okamoto (1:03 PM)
I think they blew it last night. That Chris Bosh offensive rebound might have won the Heat the series. You know Ray's gonna hit the three. Unreal. And Leonard misses the front end of two free throws that would have put them up two. When LeBron didn't put the headband back on, I knew it was about to get real.
Brett Okamoto (1:04 PM)
Put them up four*
Liked your bit on Roy Nelson but what do you see happening now that he lost? No other organisations for him to go whilst he's been underpaid greatly. People like watching him fight and find him entertaining but he's probably never going to be in a contender fight or better. I assume they keep him and make him fight Hunt etc?
Brett Okamoto (1:05 PM)
I assume you are correct. It all depends on how the negotiations go. Roy will obviously be easier to deal with now that he's coming off a loss. That's the gamble he took. Still, the UFC needs to pay him much more than what he was making. I think an increase in his fight purse is a given, the question will be how much? Josh Gross mentioned in a video we did together, and I agree with him, that Roy Nelson losing the fight actually makes it MORE likely he resigns with the UFC because he lost that bargaining power.
Hi Brett, Peeved at Showtime getting injured. Is there anything at all that can be done to prevent injuries / reduce injuries as that was shaping as the fight of the year (along with Silva / Weidman).
Brett Okamoto (1:07 PM)
Nah, I mean we exhausted the "how do you decrease injuries" talk last year when it seemed like every single fight was falling apart. And for the most part, I think camps wised up this year. We haven't seen injuries like we did in 2012. But to get rid of them entirely? It's a professional sport ... it's fighting. Injuries are going to happen. Pettis is in Las Vegas right now by the way to get his knee checked out. Expect an update on him more than likely by the end of the day.
Cameron (Auckland (NZ) )
Hey Bro, Did'nt see Burkman and Fitch but WTF? Is that the end of Fitch and will Dana be saying "I told you so?"
Brett Okamoto (1:08 PM)
You know, Dana had the opportunity to say "I told you so" when I saw him in Winnipeg and he didn't take it. Which makes sense. Why kick Fitch when he's down? There'd be no point. Fitch got hurt with a right hand, he was sort of in recovery mode and Burkman just locked up that guillotine. It happens. I wouldn't say it's the "end" of Fitch, but it's not good.
How did you score the 2nd round of Evans/Henderson and who do you think would win between Evans/Teixeira?
Brett Okamoto (1:10 PM)
Watching live, I gave it to Hendo. I need to rewatch the fight. I plan on doing that probably today if I have the time. There wasn't much to score in that second round. Most of the punches were grazing, half-blocked shots. Dan was defending Rashad's takedowns ... but that's not really scoreable offense. I believe Dan hit Rashad with pretty good knee up the middle after a sprawl. Ultimately, I'm glad the judges sided with Rashad though because he closed out the fight. Dan really did nothing in the third round that I saw.
James (Albany )
After watching Davis and Sexton, I couldnt help thinking how far they're off the mark when compared to Ronda Rousey. What are the chances of Cyborg / Rousey happening as that to be honest seems the only interesting womens match on the radar!.
Brett Okamoto (1:11 PM)
I wouldn't sleep on Rousey/Zingano but yeah, Rousey/Cyborg is the premiere female fight. Right now, it doesn't look terrific. And as is the case with other highly anticipated fights, it will depend on not only the UFC signing Cyborg and negotiating a weight class for the fight, but also the ability of both to keep winning. I don't see either one taking a loss any time soon, but it's possible. Right now, that fight isn't too likely any time soon.
Nick (Melbourne (OZ) )
Hi Brett, Sluggish weekend of fights I thought (apart from Shawn Jordan). Dan Henderson seemed predicable and never seemed to have Rashad sweating. Where to from here for him and secondly, a lot's been made of Roy Jones never being the same after fighting John Ruiz at HW. Can the same be said about Hendo after beating Fedor at HW?
Brett Okamoto (1:14 PM)
Yeah, not the best night of fights in Winnipeg but it was at least passable. Sounds like Henderson is still interested in fighting and that shouldn't be surprising. In his mind, and I tend to agree with him, the Lyoto fight was a wash because Lyoto refused to fight and the Rashad fight ... Dan faded late but still, one of the three judges had him winning. So in Dan's head, he's probably thinking he can still win plenty of fights in the UFC. He can, but I don't think he can win the real elite ones. And as far as the Roy Jones comparison, no I don't see it that way. Dan really never completely changed up his body to fight Fedor and it's not like he took a lot of punishment in that fight. I think he's just 42 man.
Brett Okamoto (1:15 PM)
Sorry for the lengthy responses today ... I'm rambling.
Who do you think won between Shields/Woodley? Obviously Shields landed more strikes but they were incredibly weak kicks and weak shots up against the cage. It seems like his entire game plan was just to slow the fight down and make it as boring as can be.
Brett Okamoto (1:15 PM)
Pretty much, but I still scored the fight for Shields. It's not like I'm a huge fan of his game plan and I don't think ultimately it does much for him. Sure you get the win but you're probably left off the main card again the next time you fight. But ... a win is a win and Tyron couldn't do anything to get off the fence. That's on him.
So where does Pettis go from here? While I'd love to see him fight Henderson, pulling Grant from the fight isn't the right way to do it in my opinion.
Brett Okamoto (1:17 PM)
Mine neither but I believe it's on the table. Why else would you fly him to Vegas so soon and get the exact situation on his knee? If the fight weren't in Milwaukee, I don't think the UFC would pull this but the fact it's in Pettis' hometown ... and to be fair, Pettis did earn the shot. I would say even more so than Grant. So, while it's kind of unfair to Grant and bottom line I would be somewhat against it, it's not outside of reason to make the switch, ya know?
What happened too Woodley? He didn't do anything in that fight. Shields was boring but at least he was in control of the fight.
Brett Okamoto (1:18 PM)
I really don't know. Looked mental to me. He was hesitant with his offense. Probably because he was afraid of getting taken down? I understand you don't want a grappler like Shields in top position but come on, let your hands go a little.
With the big country loss what do you see as next for cormier and werdum? Both need another fight cormier to lose wait and werdum does not need anothe rlong lay off
Brett Okamoto (1:20 PM)
I agree, but I don't think you have them fight each other. Cormier is on his way to LHW so you don't want to risk him beating Werdum. Give Werdum a somewhat easy fight to win. I'm not sure who that is ... but just give him a stay busy fight. Cormier ... same type of deal. I'm thinking winner of Mitrione/Schaub and winner of Herman/Gonzaga type fights.
Do you think that Ben Askren could land a take down vs. GSP? Not necessarily win the fight but out wrestle him.
Brett Okamoto (1:21 PM)
Could he land one takedown in an MMA fight? Yes. Could he outwrestle him, like on a wrestling mat in a singlet? Yes. Could he control him and out GSP him to a decision in an MMA fight? No.
Gut feeling, who fights Henderson in Milwaukee?
Brett Okamoto (1:22 PM)
Grant. Just because I think Pettis' original diagnosis on his knee was probably accurate. He went home to Milwaukee, probably to his personal doctor, who then said, oh you'll be ready in three weeks. That sounds like tom foolery to me. He probably needs more than three weeks before he can get back in the gym.
Brett do you think its extreme dirty pool for Pettis to ask to fight bendo? He had his choice and it turned out to be the wrong one due to bad luck
Brett Okamoto (1:23 PM)
I don't think it's dirty. This guy was supposed to fight for the title after Edgar/Maynard II. I mean, that was a long time ago. He Showtimed Ben Henderson. He finished Cerrone with a liver shot. I personally have him ranked No. 2 at 155 pounds and Grant No. 3.
Kevin (Mile High)
Would it benefit MMA in the long run to pay the fighters more? It seems to me that it would draw more elite athletes to the cage.
Brett Okamoto (1:24 PM)
Honestly, I actually don't think so. The top guys get paid pretty well and when you're a young, aspiring athlete, that's who you look at anyway. Nobody says, hey if I make the league minimum this is what I'll make. They think, boom, Nike deal, Jon Jones money. That's not to say I don't think the UFC should pay some of its fighters more, but in terms of attracting more talent ... I'm not sure paying the undercard guys more would have a huge impact.
Zach (Somerville, MA)
Do you see any real chance at mainstream growth for the UFC on Fox Sports instead of the FX/Fuel combo? Seems kinda shady for MMA exposure.
Brett Okamoto (1:26 PM)
What do you mean? The UFC will still have its Fox Network shows, so they'll still get that exposure. And if plans for Fox Sports 1 realize their potential, that channel will definitely have more pull, especially in the UFC's target demographic, than FX or Fuel. I see a chance for mainstream growth, yeah.
Ali MacDonald (Glasgow, Scotland)
Hey Brett, are we ever going to see Silva in a Super Fight ? At this point I've given up hope on seeing Silva vs. Bones or GSP.
Brett Okamoto (1:27 PM)
Don't give up hope. It's still a very real possibility. But it is kind of funny that for the first time I think probably ever, all three of these champs -- Jones, Silva, GSP -- have upcoming fights they could legitimately lose. They have to keep winning to make a super fight, otherwise we're in for rematch city.
Do you believe the hype!?
Brett Okamoto (1:28 PM)
Honestly Chris, I'm shocked by how many people are picking you. Not because I don't think you're a great fighter or even that you match up well with Anderson ... but come on. We're talking about Anderson Silva here. It feels lately like I see more picks for you than Anderson in that fight and that, people, is crazy to me.
When and who does Gil Melendez fight next?
Brett Okamoto (1:31 PM)
Reportedly, they are looking at a Diego Sanchez/Gilbert Melendez fight. I could not be more against this. Diego is such a unique guy for the UFC. He's not really an outstanding fighter at this point, but he pushes guys. I mean, he gave Jake Ellenberger all he could handle. But come on, Melendez should dominate him. And to me, that's a waste of what Diego Sanchez can do for you. Let him fight a guy like Khabib Nurmaojovaodvjav.. It will be a great fight and we'll see what we really have in Khabib. Having him get blown out by Melendez would just be unnecessary in my opinion.
On the UFC on Fox Sports 1 card, the UFC put Uriah Hall and Nick Ring on the main card, but Brad Pickett and Michael Mcdonald in the prelims! Thats terrible!! Give the little guys some love!
Brett Okamoto (1:32 PM)
Well, it's all on the same channel, so you can rationalize it that way. And the McDonald, Pickett fight is the "main event" of the prelims ... I kinda agree with you but I think the UFC is banking on some new fans watching this show, so introducing them to Uriah Hall is kind of a no-brainer.
Brett, I wish Zuffa would implement some sort of pension plan. Much like the NFL where if you play for 10 years or so you get a pension after you retire. Say you make 8-9-10 octagon appearances then you qualify for something down the road, possible? Fighters nees all the help they can get after they are done.
Brett Okamoto (1:33 PM)
No doubt. It's something that could happen down the road. A fighters' union would encourage this type of thing but right now, there's no rumblings of one being formed any time soon.
How many more LHW fights do you give Jones until he moves up to HW? And he's stated he won't fight Dos Santos due to them being "friends", but Dos Santos has never echoed that statement & has said he thinks it would be a great match. Any thoughts on that?
Brett Okamoto (1:35 PM)
Jones fought Rashad. Is he really that close of friends to JDS? Come on. JDS is such a nice, lovable guy ... I think everyone considers themself to be a friend of JDS. I'm a friend of JDS. If that fight makes sense and especially if it's for a No. 1 contender or UFC title, it would happen. How many LHW fights do I see for Jones? Probably 3-to-4. Heavyweight is still aways away if you ask me.
Domnick va. [via mobile]
Brett, couldn,t disargee more the u.F.C. Will never be real mainstream with those extra low pay to premlin,s ,i know guys that wrestled in college thought about give mma a try after boxing seen that small money!! Said i got a family and a degree no thanks.
Brett Okamoto (1:36 PM)
Fair enough. In general, on a large scale, I don't think it's dissuading a ton of athletes from MMA. Just like being paid nothing in AAA baseball doesn't dissuade ballplayers from sticking with it.
Jumpf R. Coq (Rochester)
How long until MMA gets sanctioned in NY? What's the latest on that front?
Brett Okamoto (1:37 PM)
It will not come to a vote this year, which we kind of saw coming a couple months ago. As long as Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver holds his position, it looks like an uphill battle. I wouldn't give it awesome odds for next year, but we'll see.
Pettis chose to fight Guida instead of waiting for his shot, and lost. Then has 3 wins over the past 2 years, not one fight in the 145lb division. I dont think he deserves a title shot in either division.
Brett Okamoto (1:39 PM)
I respectfully disagree. Yes he took a stay busy fight against Guida and was held down for three rounds. Okay. Then he got a rebound win over Jeremy Stephens then DESTROYED Joe Lauzon and Donald Cerrone. He is 7-1 in his last eight lightweight fights and that includes a win over the current champ. How is he not a title contender at 155 pounds?
In response to that poorly written comment about fighters' pay... Isn't it true that, while the UFC paychecks may not be stellar for a good percentage of fighters, don't a lot of them make the bulk of their pay from sponsors??
Brett Okamoto (1:41 PM)
Eh, sponsorships are hit and miss. They can be difficult to get in this sport actually, tougher than I think most people think. Again, I'm not against the UFC paying undercard fighters a bit more, but in terms of the specific question about college wrestlers not wanting to try MMA because of the money? I don't think I buy that on a grand scale.
JP (Columbus, OH)
Brett - totally bummed about Pettis backing out of the Aldo fight. How do we even get to the point where Aldo fights Pettis now? Also, assume Aldo beats Zombie and moves to 155 - who gets the Grant/Bendo winner - Pettis or Aldo? I don't see the two of them fighting a #1 contenders bout at 155, do you?
Brett Okamoto (1:43 PM)
Yes, good point I meant to say this earlier. That's really the biggest bummer about this whole thing is that we lose Aldo/Pettis. Because Pettis was never going to stay at 145 long anyway. Now you assume he stays at 155. So the best chance we end up seeing that fight eventually would be Aldo moving up to 155. Which is possible if he beats KZ, but not quite as likely as it would have been had he beat Pettis. In terms of who gets the first shot, I would say Pettis gets the winner of Grant/Bendo if he doesn't get the shot in Milwaukee, Aldo probably takes one more at 145, then moves up.
Wally (Elizabeth nj )
What going to happen with Lamas?
Brett Okamoto (1:44 PM)
He's off UFC 162. They'll have to reschedule him into another fight. Maybe Cub Swanson/Dennis Siver winner. Here's a thought, pull Siver and have that Swanson/Lamas fight right now. That's a great fight. But probably can't do that to Siver.
He, Brett. Sorry if already asked, how did you score the Evans/Henderson fight? I had first two for Henderson. It seems I am always on the wrong side of the close/questionable decisions (Frankie Edgar, Gil, Henderson's last fight with Machida). What gives?
Brett Okamoto (1:46 PM)
Yeah, I scored the fight for Henderson 29-28 but said I didn't mind seeing it go to Rashad because he really deserved the win the way he took control in the final round. In terms of other controversial decisions, I initially scored the Machida/Henderson fight for Dan but realized I was wrong when I watched the replay. I thought Frankie won the rematch with Ben Henderson. Thought Ben Henderson beat Melendez.
Brett, you are honestly not feeling any doubts about your position on Silva / Weidman yet?
Brett Okamoto (1:47 PM)
Of course I feel a little doubt. It's not like Silva over Weidman is a sure thing. I just don't think Weidman is going to have an easy time getting him down. Everyone is like, Oh Weidman will really be able to hurt Anderson or finish him on the ground ... and I'm like, alright ... but you're assuming he has no trouble getting him there.
Do you see Roy Nelson or Rampage Jackson winning a title in Bellator (or any other non-UFC promotion for that matter)?
Brett Okamoto (1:49 PM)
We'll see how Rampage looks. Is he collecting paychecks at this point? Because you have to ask yourself, if you're Rampage, do you feel like you have anything to prove? What does a Bellator title do for you, in terms of feeling like you really accomplished something? Does he have motivation in the gym, an area where he has always struggled to find motivation even in the prime of his career? Even though Rampage might be the best LHW in Bellator right off the bat, if he's just collecting checks, he'll get beat pretty easily I think.
Uriah Hall is exciting, and has power. And, I have always been entertained by Leonard Garcia. But in the UFC its win to survive, and I do not know if Uriah can do that continuously.
Brett Okamoto (1:50 PM)
I think he can. Will he win 10 in a row? Maybe not. But will he win enough fights to keep his job? I would say yeah, he's more than capable of doing that.
Would you say Frankie is one win away from another title shot?
Brett Okamoto (1:50 PM)
Haha no. At least two.
Paul (SF, CA)
So does Hendo fight someone in the top ten (Bader? Lil Nog?) Who outside of the top ten could make an interesting fight for him?
Brett Okamoto (1:51 PM)
Yeah, I still think you give him Top 10. And if not Top 10, still someone with a little hype behind him who's interesting. At this point, I don't even think Henderson would sign a contract to fight someone nobody has heard of.
You watching WAR MMA this weekend?
Brett Okamoto (1:52 PM)
Is that this weekend? It is isn't it? Probably not to be honest, but I'll be interested to see how it performs financially.
When does Faber fight next?
Brett Okamoto (1:53 PM)
Fox Sports 1 card in August. Yuri Alcantara.
Snake (Puerto Rico)
Brett, how long does Jon Jones try to prove naysayers wrong by standing with Gustaffson before getting frustrated and finally taking the fight to the ground?? I'm guessing 1, Maybe 2 minutes....
Brett Okamoto (1:54 PM)
Who is naysaying Jones' striking? Whoever they are, I doubt Jones is listening to them. I don't think he'll be desperate to take the fight down but yeah, if it's there and they clinch up and he gets underhooks, Gus might be on his back.
Andy [via mobile]
What u think about comments about Mazzagatti from KFlow?
Brett Okamoto (1:56 PM)
I think Mazzagatti has gotten a bad reputation and now it's almost become some sort of fad to go after the guy. But he does screw up on a halfway regular basis. That is accurate. I watch a lot of fights and I want to say there have been at least a dozen circumstances where I'm like, good lord Mazzagatti. Come on. While I wouldn't go as far as Dana White, "the guy doesn't deserve to WATCH fights," his handling of the Burkman/Fitch fight was insane and scary if you're a fighter who might have to rely on him someday.
Would a Faber/Frankie fight, either in Bantam or Feather, excite you or is it basically just all name value?
Brett Okamoto (1:57 PM)
Yeah that'd be a great fight. I'd say have it at featherweight.
Jim Bob (the Counter)
Anderson's line is as low as I've seen it in years and years. I think Weidman has a chance but I just can't pass up those odds on Anderson. Not betting the house or anything. Keep that Weidman hype train going and lower that line some more.
Brett Okamoto (1:58 PM)
I can tell you are a fellow gambler Jim. That's exactly how I would read the situation.
I didn't see or read about the Burkman/Fitch fight. What did Mazzagatti do?
Brett Okamoto (2:00 PM)
Burkman has a stunned Fitch in a guillotine, Fitch goes limp (albeit it was brief but extremely obvious) and Mazzagatti doesn't even move. Just stands there looking at it. Burkman rolls over an unconscious Fitch and stands up and points his finger to the ceiling and still ... no Mazzagatti. Just standing there. Don't get me wrong, all of this happens pretty fast, but Mazzagatti never even reacts to any of it.
How can the fix the naming system for UFC on fox sports events. I think the current system is super awkward.
Brett Okamoto (2:01 PM)
Terrible and I refuse to use it. You will never see me refer to it as a Fox Sports 1 5. What the heck is that? I say, "So and so fights so and so at a UFC on Fox Sports 1 event." Forget the numbers.
speaking of gambling, Brett i lost money on Saad Awad stoppage Did u see that fight, and did u agree with the stoppage???
Brett Okamoto (2:02 PM)
..... That was awhile ago right? I would have to get a reminder. Pretty sure I watched it but can't remember how it went down.
Re:Grant/Pettis, Pettis had the shot, lost then had a poor performance against Stephens, ko'd Lauzon (Sam stout beat Lauzon) and beat Cerrone. Grant ko'd Wiman with bloody Elbows and destroyed Maynard(higher ranked than Cerrone) winning 4 in a row.. C'mon man
Brett Okamoto (2:04 PM)
T.J. Grant is on a serious roll. I like the guy and I even think he has a shot to beat Henderson, but Pettis has been around the Top 3-5 in the division before Grant even moved down and then they've somewhat gone parallel in recent fights. I can't move Grant ahead of Pettis.
GSP is fighting in November. why so long between fights? Oh yeah, it's GSP. Lame. Go Hendricks!
Brett Okamoto (2:05 PM)
At least he's not fighting in Canada, right? What a fight that's gonna be. Happy it's right here in Vegas.
All the UFC fans got to see the Strikeforce Woodley.... he either lands the right hand early (Galvao and Heron) or he goes into a shell and does very little
Brett Okamoto (2:06 PM)
Woodley did have problems with his gas tank in Strikeforce too. It gets overlooked because he won the fights, but go back and watch some of his earlier performances and even in wins, he tended to fade a bit in later rounds. This was just a weird fight. Shields completely neutralized him. Not much to say about it.
Brett Okamoto (2:08 PM)
Good stuff. Let's wrap for the day. Send me any questions I missed on Twitter, @bokamotoESPN. Should be interesting to see what happens with Pettis. Again, I'm expecting the injury to make it all a moot point, but if he's cleared for Milwaukee ... all bets are off. We'll see. See ya next week!