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September 3, 9:12 AM ET
Chat with Jon Anik

Jon Anik
  (2:24 PM)

Hello, MMA Nation! We're chatting with you for the next hour! Then, keep it right here at espn.com for Episode 17 of MMA Live, our biggest show yet. Randy Couture, Brock Lesnar, and Dana White are all in-studio to discuss the mega-fight at UFC 91. We also break down UFC 88: Breakthrough, upcoming Saturday in Atlanta. It's...time!

Brian (Chicago)

Jon, even though it is two month's away, who is your early pick to win the Randy vs Brock fight?

Jon Anik
  (2:26 PM)

I am very amped up to see this fight. I won't make an official prediction until later, but I am actually leaning towards Lesnar, who has been installed as a slight underdog.

matt jacksonville north carolina

why doesn't lorenzo step in and solve the fedor issue? obviously dana is going to continue his hard stance and that just isn't going to work. with fedor entering his prime i think lorenzo should use his power to get fedor in the ufc do you agree?

Jon Anik
  (2:29 PM)

I just think the issue is complex and has a lot of variables. If Fedor truly wants to challenge himself, and regularly, against the best, then why not sign with the UFC? I believe the UFC is willing to pay Emelianenko well. Dana White addresses the situation today on MMA Live, as does Randy Couture.

Johnson, Seattle

Jon, MMA Live keeps getting better! My question is about Rousimar Palhares. Why do so many people think he can hang with Dan Henderson? I think Palhares is in for a rude awakening on Saturday. Thanks.

Jon Anik
  (2:31 PM)

Because he is a terrific submission guy. Henderson is still a -240 favorite, so the betting public hasn't backed Toquinho just yet. I think Henderson will be able to keep the fight standing up. That's the key for him. On the ground, I favor Palhares...extremely skilled and crafty.

Kevin, Buffalo, NY

Was Brock Lesnar as big and intimidating in person as he appears to be? Love the show...look forward to Thursdays every week.

Jon Anik
  (2:33 PM)

He is an absolute monster. I always remembered meeting Tony Siragusa because his hands were so massive. Brock's are much bigger...think lunchboxes...

Greg (Austin, TX)

Jon, Love the MMA chats every week. Who's the upset play at UFC 88? You always talk about 'live underdogs', so give us one!

Jon Anik
  (2:34 PM)

Okay, Greg. I will take Matt Hamill, a +210 dog against Rich Franklin. Hamill needs a win against a big-name opponent, and I say he gets it Saturday night.

Mitchell (fargo, ND)

When is forrest going to fight again?

Jon Anik
  (2:35 PM)

It seems to me Mitchell that the UFC is waiting on Forrest until after the Liddell-Evans fight this weekend. If Chuck wins, I'd be shocked if he didn't get the title shot against Forrest. That fight would likely be on December 27th.

Bobby (Boston)

So is it leaning more towards Rampage vs. Wanderlei or Shogun...that is a good co-main event for Lesnar vs. Couture

Jon Anik
  (2:36 PM)

From what I'm hearing, it will be Rampage vs. Wanderlai at UFC 91. Perhaps that announcement is also being held up by the Liddell-Evans fight. If Evans pulls off the upset, I don't expect him to get the shot against Forrest Griffin. So an Evans win could mean Rampage gets a rematch for the belt.

Toms River NJ

How did Frankie Edgar get left out of the Penn/Sherk/Florian/Stevenson/Griffin mix? With fights against Franca and Maynard already, who's next for Edgar? Seems like he got left out...

Jon Anik
  (2:38 PM)

The Edgar camp isn't too happy. He could move down to 145 and face Urijah Faber. I think the UFC deemed Joe Stevenson to be a bigger name/draw and therefore, he got the fight with Kenny Florian.

mike (Fair Lawn NJ)

If you had to put a percentage on a Fedor vs Couture fight in 2009 what % would you put?

Jon Anik
  (2:40 PM)

After talking to Dana and Randy this week, I would say there's a 35-40% chance it happens in 2009.

rob (jersey)

Aloha Jon - glad to be with you and MMA Nation again - - I know this chat will hover around Brock/Randy - so may I get this out of the way - Chael Sonnen, NEW WEC Middleweight champion of the World - thanks Jon!

Jon Anik
  (2:41 PM)

Hey pal. Very jacked up for next Wednesday night as well. Sonnen certainly has a great chance.

Craig (Erie,PA)

I don't know if you watched the countdown show last night, but Rashad and his camp seemed overly confident in Rashad's standup ability vs Chuck. I know they won't say they are scared of Chuck's standup and all, but are they crazy? There's no way he stands with Chuck this weekend right?

Jon Anik
  (2:43 PM)

I have taped the Countdown show and will watch it tonite. Rashad is extremely confident entering the fight, and with good reason. But as much as his boxing/stand-up is said to have improved, I'm still not sure he can trade with Chuck. But...I also don't think he should be such a heavy underdog. Up to +215 at last check.

Joe (St. Louis, MO)

Good afternoon, Jon! Wow, what a week! Randy Couture is back in the UFC. Do you think a fight with Brock Lesnar is smart business for the UFC? It seems strange to me that Couture was all about fighting Fedor but now he's fighting Lesnar, and although that's a huge money making fight, it is a very dangerous fight for Couture. What if he loses, what does that do for his chances of fighting Fedor?

Jon Anik
  (2:46 PM)

Hi Joe. I agree that it is a risky proposition for Couture. But I still believe Randy's legendary status is such that a loss would not stand in the way of a future fight with Fedor. I know why some have criticized the Couture-Lesnar fight, with Brock getting a title shot in just his 3rd UFC appearance. But who doesn't want to see this fight? Seriously. Lesnar is a huge draw, and a rising star, and it says a lot about Couture that he was willing to take the fight.

SHONEY -- MAINE

CHANCES ANDERSON SILVA, LYOTO MACHIDA AND BIG NOG HOLD THE BELTS BY THIS TIME NEXT YEAR?

Jon Anik
  (2:48 PM)

Very small. Machida may not even get a title shot by that point. And Big Nog will had to have beaten Mir, and then the Lesnar-Couture winner. No easy task. As for Anderson Silva, no one's talking that belt, expect maybe Dan Henderson.

Matt Hamill

I will taking myself for that upset play - thanks

rob (does not condone gambling)

Kimbo Slice opens at -575.......ridiculous

Jon Anik
  (2:49 PM)

Solid play, Hammer.

Eric-New York,New York

A big free agent out there that we hear nothing about that has not gotten signed yet is Ricardo Arona. Have you heard any thing about him or if he plans on coming back to MMA soon ? He would make a great addition to any org out there. Very odd he is still on the side line.

Jon Anik
  (2:50 PM)

We've gotten several questions on Arona the last two weeks. Nothing to report yet, but I have some feelers out there. Will try to get some concrete info.

Joe (St. Louis, MO)

As much as I love Randy, at this point all I think that says about him is that he wants to make the most money possible. Nothing wrong with that, but it seems after the lawsuit fell through, he just gave up and now will try to get rich instead of fighting Fedor. Fair assumption?

Jon Anik
  (2:53 PM)

$$$ certainly talks, Joe, and there may be some truth to your assessment. I think Randy just got so sick of all the litigation, and realized it may go on indefinitely. So, at 45 years old, he really didn't have much choice but to re-sign with the UFC, if he wanted to continue his career right now. That court stuff could've dragged on another year.

Jon Anik
  (2:53 PM)

Episode 17 of MMA Live is up!

Leo (Boston MA)

Who do you think will win this mini-heavyweith championship tournament? Also what happend to Fabricio Werdum getting the next title shot? Not that I'm complaining about Werdum not getting a shot by the way.

Jon Anik
  (2:55 PM)

If anyone has a beef with the Lesnar title shot, it should be Werdum. But I'm excited to see how the heavyweight picture plays out. UFC fans get three potentially great fights. Mir-Nogueira, Couture-Lesnar, and then a fight between the winners. Pretty solid.

Charlie, Philly

What's the latest on Tito? Is he headed to EliteXC? If both Affliction & EXC go under, then will he end up back in the UFC?

Jon Anik
  (2:56 PM)

Still no definitive word on Tito at last check. My expectation is that he will still come to terms with Affliction. But EliteXC needs his star power in the worst way, so maybe they'll overpay.

john ( at home)

alright jon whats the bet for sean sherk tyson griffin? if i win i woul like a autograph pic of the guys from MMA live

Jon Anik
  (2:57 PM)

Haha...I might be able to get you that even if you don't win the bet. A couple of our MMA Live producers are with you, and love Sherk in the fight. We'll make our official side wager the week before the fight.

Doug (Lexington, KY)

Kimbo vs Shamrock? Wanna be has-been vs has-been? Does this or any of the other minor league groups have a chance if they keep putting on these kind of fights?

Jon Anik
  (2:58 PM)

I actually think it was the best main event EliteXC could make, given their lack of talent and depth. But someone needs to tell EliteXC that it is September 4th, and their next huge show is exactly one month away...How about some promotion?

Richard (Portland)

Dan Henderson: most underrated and underappreciated great fighter in MMA history?

Jon Anik
  (2:58 PM)

Kenny Florian swears by the guy.

Arnie CT

You got to speak with Dana White how close is the UFC to merging there larger weight classes with WEC? And do you ever think we could see a BJ Penn vs. Uriah Faber fight? He likes to go up and weight curious if you think Penn could go further down or Faber up to meet?

Jon Anik
  (3:00 PM)

Hi Arnie. Dana seems hell-bent on making as many mega-fights as possible, so a Faber-Penn fight down the line sounds possible. As for the UFC-WEC merging larger weight classes, it will happen. We just don't know when yet.

Craig (Erie,PA)

No offense but I think you have been drinking too much of Franklin's koolaid if you think Rashad isn't a dog. His style is bred for Chuck, who has been beating dudes like him his whole career.

Jon Anik
  (3:01 PM)

Craig, I certainly believe Rashad Evans SHOULD be the underdog. I just don't think the line should be so big. It'll be tough for him to get out of the ATL with a win.

Leo (Boston MA)

Jon, do you think that betting Couture is more of an sentimental choice, while the younger and more athletic Lesnar is the smart bet?

Jon Anik
  (3:02 PM)

Yes. I think Lesnar may be the favorite come 11/15. But Couture tends to get a lot of late money on him in Vegas.

Joe (St. Louis, MO)

Jon, my underdog play this weekend is Yoshida. He is an absolute animal, and Karo has never been known as a finisher. Yoshida actually fought in Japan in a cage where elbows were allowed, so he's not at the same disadvantage as most fighters. Yoshida steals this one from Karo, mark my words!!

Jon Anik
  (3:02 PM)

A sound prediction from one of the top seeds in our MMA Live chat.

Leo (Boston MA)

How much is Lesnar going to play the "bad guy" in his fight against mma legend Couture and do you think the PPV buys will be over a million?

Jon Anik
  (3:03 PM)

I believe the PPV buys will be right around 1,000,000. Lesnar was nothing but a good guy this week in Bristol, but I do expect him to take on more of that villain role as the fight approaches. Couture is so hard to dislike. Dude is the man.

Collin, Los Angeles

Hey Jon, huge fan, this show has the potential of going to great places and I feel priviledged to be a spectator of that. I noticed above one person mentioning Grey Maynard, and I was thinking I haven't heard his name in a while. After a huge win over Edgar, wouldn't you think he should be right up there in the Tyson Griffin/Joe Stevenson mix? And what do you think is next for Maynard? Thanks

Jon Anik
  (3:06 PM)

Thanks, Collin. Gray Maynard will face Rich Clementi in one of many great match-ups at UFC 90 in Chicago. Maynard is certainly in the mix at 155. If he wins Oct. 25th, you'd expect him to face another top guy. But I still think the Florian-Stevenson winner will end up fighting the Griffin-Sherk winner.

Jon (Dallas)

Ok Jon, its time for our Lyoto Machida soapbox for the week. Hypo: Chuck beats Rashad and faces Forrest in December and becomes champ. Chuck then has to face Rampage (being as Rampapge has beaten Chuck twice). Rampage wins and Forrest gets a rematch yada yada yada. Point being, Machida has been the #1 contender for at least 6 months, and it is quite possible he won't get a title shot for another year! Your thoughts?

Jon Anik
  (3:08 PM)

Life isn't fair, Jon. Machida certainly deserves a title shot. But the UFC doesn't always do what is fair, and doesn't always cater exclusively to the hardcore fans. Everyone knows who Chuck Liddell is, and a fight with Forrest Griffin would be enormous (even if I may not think Chuck deserves the title shot next). Hope that answers your question.

john NJ

Jon we know affliction was hurt by the lesnar couture fight but was elite xc alsoo hurt by it because it just makes that kimbo vs shamrcok fight at the back of everyone mind?

Jon Anik
  (3:10 PM)

I wouldn't want to be chasing the UFC right now. EliteXC better start promoting if it wants to do a big number on Oct. 4th.

Karo Parysian

Joe from St. Louis, Do you know who I am bro?

Jon Anik
  (3:11 PM)

Parysian is fired up! Karo, I think you've put a lot of pressure on yourself for this fight. Yoshida is legit (It was fun hearing Dana White, off the air, try to pronounce his name!)...

Marsh (StL)

Is Joe from StL your brother or something? You post his questions even if they aren't good ones. Anyway, you have said before to watch out for Rashad in this fight. Do you really think he can beat Chuck? How so?

Jon Anik
  (3:13 PM)

You're right. I do give Joe from St. Louis preferential treatment. But he brings it every week. As for Rashad's chances, he says he wants to set the tempo right out of the shoot. I think his best opportunity may come early in the fight, as Chuck settles in and gets ready to counter punch. I did not predict an Evans victory, but I do expect a competitive fight. Franklin McNeil thinks it'll go the distance.

Joe (St. Louis, MO)

Jon, do you agree with Dana White's assumption that Affliction will be out of business by 2009? And if not, why do you think they'll be able to hang around?

Jon Anik
  (3:14 PM)

I don't agree with Dana. Why will they hang around? Donald Trump. But that said, I'm told ticket sales for Affliction's October 11th Day of Reckoning show are not going well.

Charlie, Philly

What's your prediction for fight/KO/submission of the night for saturday night? I've got Franklin vs Hamill/Chuck/Palhares

Jon Anik
  (3:17 PM)

I think the fight of the night could be Martin Kampmann-Nate Marquardt. I'll give the KO of the night to Chuck, and the submission of the night to...Don Hyun-Kim against Matt Brown.

SHONEY -- MAINE

ANY RUMORS AS TO WHO AMIR SODALLAH WILL BE FIGHTING NEXT?

Jon Anik
  (3:18 PM)

Nothing yet on the opponent. All I can tell you is that he will stay at 185, and expects to fight at UFC 91 in Las Vegas Nov. 15th. Will likely have word on an opponent in the next two weeks.

Will (Hudson, TX)

Jon, do you see the HW division of Affliction joining forces with DREAM for some fights later this year? Japanese MMA sites reported some talk of this last month and the announcement of CroCop vs. Overeem should get people talking heavywweight again in Japan.

Jon Anik
  (3:19 PM)

It's a distinct possibility, Will. I think Affliction, and EliteXC for that matter, has to be open-minded about all crossover opportunities.

Dickie V., Bristol

How would you feel about Dick Vitale becoming an MMA announcer? Speaking of which, I hear he's at ESPN today, are you going to meet him?

Jon Anik
  (3:21 PM)

Not sure Mixed Martial Arts would be Dickie V's bag. But someone said he wanted to meet me actually. Definitely kidding there...

Ben (Columbus)

I am not sold on Machida as a number 1 contender. He is undefeated but what top level competition has he beat? Tito is not top level anymore, and he beat Rich Franklin 5 years ago.

Jon Anik
  (3:22 PM)

I'm sure that is part of the UFC's defense for not granting him a title shot.

rob (jersey)

Buy/sell Eddie Alvarez fighting KJ Noons before Nick Diaz?

Jon Anik
  (3:22 PM)

It's a good question, but I think KJ Noons may be done with EliteXC. It's messy, man.

john (NJ)

jon if you were a pro fighter what would be your ring entrance song be? GO SHERK

Jon Anik
  (3:23 PM)

I like Forrest Griffin's traditional entrance song, 'Let's Go'. Perhaps Busta Rhymes 'Break Ya Neck'. Or maybe Hava Nagila, the Jewish wedding song. Big fan of that number.

Ryan (Detroit)

Are you guys gonna be on the internet indefinitely? Lets get this show on TV!

Jon Anik
  (3:25 PM)

I hear ya, Ryan. We're all trying to be patient. I think it will happen...eventually. As I say every week in the chat, we just have to do our job, keep improving, etc., and hopefully the powers that be will notice. I think they're already starting to...

Joe (St. Louis, MO)

Karo, I do know who you are, bro. After you got injured for your title fight with Matt Hughes, you have been putting way to much pressure on yourself to win and get that title shot back. I like you as a fighter, you're always in great fights (vs. Nick Diaz, vs. Diego Sanchez) and your judo throws always get the crowd going. Best of luck against Yoshida, you're going to need it!

Jon Anik
  (3:25 PM)

You knew I'd give Joe the final word, right? Love the Show Me State (except in the summer). My younger brother went to Wash U.

Tim (St Paul, MN)

What's next for GSP if he gets past BJ Penn? There's not a lot left at WW for him to conquer.

Jon Anik
  (3:26 PM)

A mega-fight with Anderson Silva, right?

Seth (augusta, ga)

How many fights until Henderson gets a rematch with Silva? He's got to be close right? Also, who's next for Torres at 135?

Jon Anik
  (3:28 PM)

Staying on the mega-fight theme, I believe the masses truly want to see Henderson-Silva again, b/c of how dominant Hendo was in the first round. But I also think it's hugely important for Henderson to beat Palhares. Otherwise, with three straight losses, it would sort of be hard to justify giving Henderson the next shot. Although if any UFC division lacks top contenders, it may be middleweight.

Craig (Erie,PA)

If Henderson loses to Rusimar and goes 0-3 in the UFC (even though it was tough comp) what do you think the chances are of him retiring/being cut?

Jon Anik
  (3:29 PM)

Don't think he'll retire, and don't think the UFC will cut bait. Wouldn't he be favored to beat most of the guys at 185? I'd like to see him fight Rich Franklin and Michael Bisping.

Tim (St Paul, MN)

If GSP does go up in weight to fight Anderson, who do you have taking this fight? Does GSP stay at Middleweight?

Jon Anik
  (3:31 PM)

Pure speculation...but I think GSP would move up for the one fight only, and would then go back to 170. I try not to dodge any questions, but I have no idea who would win that fight. Tough to go against Silva or St. Pierre.

Jon Anik
  (3:34 PM)

Alright, guys. We'll end the chat with some predictions: Liddell over Evans via 2nd-round KO. Hamill defeats Franklin via unanimous decision. Ditto for Henderson over Palhares. And in a small, small upset, I'll take Martin Kampmann over Nate Marquardt. Thanks again for stopping by the chat. And if I didn't get to your question, send it to mmalive@espn.com, and I will try to respond personally. MMA Live is now up for your viewing with Couture, Lesnar, and Dana White in-studio. We'll chat again next week. Enjoy UFC 88! -JA