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December 28, 1:00 PM ET
Chat with Brett Okamoto

Brett Okamoto
  (1:00 PM)

Hello friends. Hope everyone had a good holidays. I spent the last few days in Colorado where I went to college, but I'm back in Las Vegas now and happy to be right back into a fight week. My main picks for Friday are Lesnar, Diaz, Fitch, Gustafsson and Phan. Let's chat.

joe, new haven [via mobile]

How many bouts does sonnen have to fight in light heavyweight division before he gets a shot at the title now that he said he is moving?

Brett Okamoto
  (1:01 PM)

Sonnen is not moving weight. No way. Not saying he never will, but absolutely will not right now. He's just saying stuff to say stuff. If he did, let's say lose to Munoz or lose to Silva and then decide to go up, I would think he'd only need to win maybe two fights to get a title shot at 205.

Marc (Chicago, IL)

Do you think they'll ever go back and re-score past fights for historical context (the same way they do with defensive statistics in the MLB)?

Brett Okamoto
  (1:03 PM)

That's a good question and yeah, I think they might. It'd be interesting to see what categories they would break it down to. I don't think we need to count how many jabs a dude has thrown in his career, but takedown percentages, takedown defense, submission defense percentage, etc. Those could be interesting. Somebody do it, then sell it.

josh (tennessee)

whats next for machida? forrest?

Brett Okamoto
  (1:05 PM)

I'm not sure what's next for Machida. I don't think it will be Forrest. My guess is Forrest will get paired with Tito. That's the fight Tito wants and actually, I think Forrest and his team kind of want that fight, too. For Machida, it has to be a guy coming off a loss as well. Not an exciting prospect, because you don't want him knocking that guy off.

Tyler (Oklahoma )

You told me last week that Gil Melendez would beat Maynard and Ben Henderson, but not Frankie. So I looked at Gils opponents since his last loss, and then I looked at what his opponents had done before and after they fought Gil. How can a guy with that much lack of competition get so much credit?

Brett Okamoto
  (1:08 PM)

I said that about Maynard and Henderson because I think he matches up well stylistically with those guys. I give him less of a shot against Frankie because Frankie is hard to take down and I think his speed would help him a lot against Melendez. Gilbert dominated Aoki and Kawajiri. Those names don't resonate as much in US, but they are good fighters. Melendez passes the eye test.

Rusty (Denver, CO)

What are the chances they put the winner of Cerrone/Diaz and Lauzon/Pettis together for a #1 contender bout? Does the chances go down if Diaz and Lauzon come out on top?

Brett Okamoto
  (1:09 PM)

Think you nailed it. Ideally, Cerrone vs. Pettis would be the fight that would create a clear No. 1 contender. If Diaz or Lauzon win, you still have a sweet, entertaining fight between the winners, but harder to build a case for a title shot.

Scott (Salt Lake City)

I am super excited to see the fights this weekend. When are you going to be posting your betting predictions?

Brett Okamoto
  (1:10 PM)

They should go up today. I think it's a potentially good card for underdogs. Nate Diaz should not be a 2.5-to-1 underdog against Donald Cerrone. No way.

timothy davis (los angeles)

let's say overeem defeats lesnar, but subsequently fails his drug test. what's the fallout for both ufc, and specifically, lesnar? (i suspect lesnar may retire if he loses to 'reem)

Brett Okamoto
  (1:11 PM)

You should read my blog that posted today on Lesnar, and why do people always expect this guy to retire? If Overeem were to fail the drug test, I would be SHOCKED if that happened, I gotta believe the UFC would cut him. For Lesnar, I guess you could say, well Alistair was on something, but he'd still suffer from it, rankings wise. That's just what happens.

Andy (St. Louis)

What are your expectations for the Cerrone-Diaz fight in a couple of days?

Brett Okamoto
  (1:12 PM)

Back and forth. I would guess it lasts at least 8 minutes. Grappling and who's better in the scramble makes the difference.

Evan (Los Angeles)

Since the winner of Lesnar-Overeem is the no.1 contender for the heavyweight title, would Mir-Velasquez make sense as the next in line after that? If not, what would make more sense?

Brett Okamoto
  (1:14 PM)

Yeah, seems like in every chat or comment board there are people asking for that fight. It does make sense, but remember that the UFC does not like to pair a guy coming off a win with a guy coming off a loss. Especially this close to a title shot because if Cain wins, he still needs another win to get back to the title and now you have another contender, in this case Mir, now coming off a loss. That make sense? So, I don't think that's the fight they'll make.

Jr (Arizona)

When can we expect Cain Velasquez back?

Brett Okamoto
  (1:16 PM)

Things have seemed fairly quiet regarding CV. We hear he's back in the gym, but the details on his injury pre-Fox show have still not cleared up publicly. Personally, I haven't heard anything regarding him signing a fight.

josh (tennessee)

if cerronne wins who is next for the cowboy how about edgar henderson loser

Brett Okamoto
  (1:17 PM)

I would want to watch that scenario, but again, the UFC won't give a guy fresh off a title loss to it's clearest No. 1 contender. Cerrone will most likely fight winner of Lauzon/Pettis I've gotta believe. Or, maybe they just make him the No. 1 contender if Lauzon takes something like a close decision win over Pettis.

A.J. (Tampa)

Machida to fight loser of Evans vs Davis?

Brett Okamoto
  (1:18 PM)

I could see that.

Jarric (Kansas)

Recently read that Mousasi only has 1 more fight on his Strikeforce contract. Any chance he goes to the UFC after that fight?

Brett Okamoto
  (1:19 PM)

I would say that depends on whether or not he's the SF champion at that time. I would guess his last fight would be at title fight against winner of King Mo/Larkin. If he has the belt, they wouldn't want yet another champion to vacate.

A.J. (Tampa)

Why is Dana burying Dos Santos?

Brett Okamoto
  (1:19 PM)

What do you mean?

AL M (NYC)

I think Nunes vs Gamburyen should be on PPV, but it not even on spike?? and its the opening fight on facebook??? Am i missing somthing, what do you think about the fight?

Brett Okamoto
  (1:21 PM)

Gamburyan has been very disappointing lately. Not just that he's lost, but that he's looked pretty bad. Nunes was disappointing himself against Florian. I agree with you it's waaaaaay better than we're used to seeing as far as the first fight of the night, but I don't think it deserves to be on the PPV.

James Santana (Lebanon PA)

I'm a big Overeem fan but do you think his style of striking basically one or two punch combos makes him more open to takedowns?

Brett Okamoto
  (1:22 PM)

Overeem is ridiculously strong in the clinch. You see him tie up with guys and he just tosses them around like they're welterweights. But Lesnar isn't going to clinch with him to take him down. He's going to go after his skinny legs with single and double legs. That's the main reason why I like Lesnar to get him down.

Matt, NYC [via mobile]

Where do you see Diaz having a decided advantage over Cerrone? Cowboy all day!!!

Brett Okamoto
  (1:24 PM)

Cerrone is a big time rhythm fighter. He's gotten into a groove early in all his recent fights. I don't think he'll be able to do that against Diaz. Diaz disrupts that kind of thing with his volume punching. On the ground, it's basically even. I don't "love" Diaz in this fight, I just don't see how oddsmakers can make him such a huge underdog.

Andy (St. Louis)

Do you think Gustafsson would overlook Matyushenko, or will he finish the fight like he should?

Brett Okamoto
  (1:25 PM)

Nah, I don't think so. I haven't had a ton of interaction with Gustafsson, but he seems like a pretty level headed guy and he's with a solid camp. I think he'll be very confident, in a good way.

Everett (Brazil)

breakout fighter of the year - cowboy or smooth?

Brett Okamoto
  (1:25 PM)

Between those two choices...I'd have to go Cowboy. But real close.

@pappafeez (dallas)

Does Brock vs Reem last over 3 minutes?

Brett Okamoto
  (1:26 PM)

Yes.

Jr (Arizona)

Another decision win for Fitch?

Brett Okamoto
  (1:26 PM)

That's my prediction.

Nick (Tampa)

Why does Melendez stay in SF when its obvious that he is head and shoulders about the comp?

Brett Okamoto
  (1:27 PM)

It's not up to him right now. He has fights left on his deal with Strikeforce. If it were up to him, he'd be in the UFC. But Showtime needs main event caliber fighters and right now, it doesn't sound like Zuffa is planning on transferring him.

Alex (Minnesota)

Who's reffing the Brock vs Overeem fight? Depending on who it is could determine the winner.

Brett Okamoto
  (1:28 PM)

I believe it's Mario Yamasaki.

Andy (Chicago)

You picked Diaz which I like as well but due to the money line. Was that part of your pick or if it was even money Cerrone?

Brett Okamoto
  (1:29 PM)

If it was even money, I'd have a lot harder time picking Diaz. Basically...I think this line should be more like Cerrone -150, Diaz +130. And I'd still take Diaz on that line.

Ben (PA)

Does A. Gustaffson climb into the title picture with a win this weekend?

Brett Okamoto
  (1:29 PM)

If he mauls Matyushenko, which I think he will, then he'll get a big name in his next fight.

RYAN (DAVENPORT, IA)

DO U AGREE WITH JON ANIK THAT BENSON HENDERSON WILL WIN IN FEB AND DO U FEEL THAT IS THE BEST FIGHT EARLY IN 2012?

Brett Okamoto
  (1:31 PM)

Yep, I like Henderson to win the fight. As far as best fight in early 2012? Ummmm, yeah it's definitely up there. I like Diaz/Condit, too. And Pettis/Lauzon.

Evan (Los Angeles)

What is going on with Dan Henderson? I know he wants to stay at 205, which would mean he would fight for the light heavyweight title, but I haven't heard anything in awhile. Do you have any idea what's going on with that?

Brett Okamoto
  (1:32 PM)

Yeah, amazingly Dan Henderson called Dana White and said he wants to fight. Even after that ridiculous marathon with Shogun, he says he's ready to go. He probably said that because A. He's not getting any younger and B. He'd like the UFC to give him that opportunity before Rashad has a chance to fight Phil. It's not gonna happen though. UFC wants to find out what happens between Rashad and Phil, then we'll probably know what's next for Dan.

Tom (CO) [via mobile]

True or false: by the time gsp is ready to fight again diaz will be the interim champ?

Brett Okamoto
  (1:33 PM)

Tough one...Gut says...No.

Bradley (Regina SK CAN)

Do you miss Jon Anik?

Brett Okamoto
  (1:33 PM)

I miss working with him. But I actually see him more now that he lives in Vegas.

Jimbo (The Counter)

The price is high but I want to take Cerrone so badly. When does Red Ink come out?

Brett Okamoto
  (1:34 PM)

I'm hoping today. I have the info in. Look for it later this afternoon or early tomorrow.

Andy (Chicago)

What weight class is TUF in Brazil? Regardless, do you think this could be some great talent into the UFC that we may have missed on if it wasn't in Brazil?

Brett Okamoto
  (1:35 PM)

I actually haven't heard what the weight class is for TUF Brazil. I would expect it to be on the lighter side and yes, I expect a TON of talent to come in from this. From conversations I've had around the sport, there is a lot of untapped talent in Brazil. A lot.

Tom [via mobile]

If fitch gets past the happy beard guy does he get the winner of diaz vs condit?

Brett Okamoto
  (1:37 PM)

Haha, that's a great name for JH and maybe, but probably not. I would still expect the UFC to advance a guy like Jake Ellenberger over Jon Fitch (especially if Friday is unanimous decision over happy beard guy).

Adam (NYC)

Hey Brett - Happy holidays. Is the card for UFC 143 complete? It is my first live event and i am a bit disappointed with it to be honest.

Brett Okamoto
  (1:39 PM)

Looks like they'll add one more fight to that card. Not sure if it would be main card worthy or another prelim at this point. It does look like they could afford another big-name fight, but it's hard to blame UFC for lack of excitement on that card. Lots of injuries on it.

Alex (Minnesota)

Do you think Jon Fitch could beat both guys in the interim title fight?

Brett Okamoto
  (1:40 PM)

He would be competitive with both, but I would probably pick against him against both.

Big Pat (Hell, MI)

If not Diaz ... then who?

Brett Okamoto
  (1:42 PM)

Regarding who interim champ is when GSP gets back? Not sure. Could be Condit, Ellenberger, Fitch, even Koscheck. I only say it won't be him because everyone wants to see that fight, we were supposed to get it now twice, and both times it hasn't happened.

Scotty (Templeton)

Winner of Lesnar/Overreem get JDS, loser gets??

Brett Okamoto
  (1:44 PM)

I don't think they'd redo Lesnar/Velasquez because it was so decisive. Maybe Shane Carwin will be back by then and he could fight either Overeem or Lesnar. Or possibly the loser of the SF Grand Prix final if they keep both Cormier and Barnett.

Jose (Lennox, CA)

Happy Holidays and a special shout out to C-Host! Whats the status of MMA Live on ESPN television?

Brett Okamoto
  (1:44 PM)

Nothing on television right now. Ideas floating around though for some cool online stuff which I'll be a part of. Hopefully get it back on television sooner than later.

Ryan (Dallas)

What up Ninja!? Hope the Holidays were good to ya. I'm so amped for the fights this weekend!! Was once a huge Reem fan, but his attitude of lately has me liking him less. I think he might be looking past Lesnar, not a good idea. You're thoughts?

Brett Okamoto
  (1:46 PM)

I think he's being a little extra cocky for the cameras. He's confident, believes he's the better guy, but he'd be a complete fool to not recognize how good of a wrestler Lesnar is. I'm sure he's prepared diligently for that. Seriously, how dumb would it be not too? Even if you think Lesnar is not a great mixed martial artist, we can all agree he's a phenomenal wrestler.

Bob (IN)

Will TUF Brazil be on TV in the US?

Brett Okamoto
  (1:46 PM)

Yeah. I believe they're going to put it on Fuel.

Ben (NJ)

Brett, my opinion is that this Fuel TV thing is going to seriously hurt the UFC's growth. Nobody there to see Countdowns, Prelims and some live events. Thoughts?

Brett Okamoto
  (1:47 PM)

It will take some time for people to catch on that it's there. In time, it's not crazy to think the UFC could do for Fuel what it did for Spike. International TUF is on there, Countdowns, live events. Eventually people will associate Fuel with the UFC like they did with Spike.

Ed (Work)

Diaz over Cerrone? You can't be serious.

Brett Okamoto
  (1:48 PM)

I'm serious Ed. I'm not saying he's going to run through him, but I'm picking Diaz.

Jimbo (The Counter)

Forgot to mention: take the Jets +1 over the Dolphins and UConn -6.5 over South Florida (college baskets today)

Brett Okamoto
  (1:49 PM)

The Jets? I think I can find something better.

Marc (Chicago, IL)

When will MMA fighters finally unionize? There's no consistency to the pay or to the punishments.

Brett Okamoto
  (1:51 PM)

If it happens, it will most likely be a retired guy who cares enough to spearhead it. Right now, if you talk about unionizing, you make the UFC mad, which is a scary thing for a pro fighter. You also need one of the more successful guys to run it, but that's tough, because those are the guys with the most to lose. They've paid their dues and now make real good money. You've got to talk them into putting their own interests a little bit to the side for the greater good.

Brett Okamoto
  (1:52 PM)

Alright, let's put a wrap on this one. Great questions/comments as always guys. Come back to the site on Friday for the live chat during the fights and hit me up on twitter anytime @bokamotoESPN. Lata.