Print and Go Back ESPN: SportsNation

January 4, 1:00 PM ET
Chat with Brett Okamoto

Brett Okamoto
  (1:00 PM)

What's up guys? Thanks for joining as always, THE FIRST chat of 2012. Just to let you know, I've got the UFC 142 media call on in the background, with Aldo, Mendes, Belfort and Johnson. If anything interesting happens on it, I'll pass that along. What we chattin about today?

felix (il)

how many flyweights will there be by after the ufc on fx

Brett Okamoto
  (1:01 PM)

That's a good question. I asked Dana that not too long ago and he basically said, "enough." I tried to get him to be more specific and he said, "if we didn't have enough for it to be exciting, we wouldn't do it." My guess is they have between 12-to-15? It will obviously grow as the year progresses.

decammy (Los Angeles, Ca)

Sup Brett, I don't think we will ever see another draw like Brock Lesnar that already had a fan base. Because of today's MMA growth top Division 1 wrestlers will likely seek this path instead of the pro wrestling. But if I was an elite wrestler out of college I would do pro wrestling first to build some interest and become a big draw for the UFC eventhough it can take a toll on your body but what do you think of this strategy?

Brett Okamoto
  (1:02 PM)

Hmmmm. Admittedly, I'm not an expert on pro wrestling. Didn't even like it as a kid. My guess, though, is that becoming a halfway big name in the WWE is just as, if not more difficult, than breaking into the UFC. How many wrestlers do they have under contract? I think you'd be better focusing on your standup skills and getting some flash KOs to build your name.

Marc (Chicago, IL)

Why didn't Cerrone try to mount Diaz? He could kick his legs out at will... How do the judges score something like that? It's not the same as a knockdown with punches or kicks and it's not really a trip. Cerrone just looked really flat like he was sick or the weight cut really affected him.

Brett Okamoto
  (1:03 PM)

I don't think he looked sick or anything like that, but I agree, it was strange he didn't follow Diaz to the ground in certain moments. There was one time especially, when he landed a head kick and Diaz was dazed. Think Cerrone got tunnel vision with his standup, forgot he could stand over him and score points that way.

JRC (Illinois)

Do u see a title shot for Vitor Belfort happening in 2012 as long as he beats W.Silva and Anthony Johnson?? I think he deserve another shot at the Spider after all it was a kick that probably wouldnt land in a rematch that knocked him about

Brett Okamoto
  (1:04 PM)

Yes, I think they'd do that fight if Belfort wins his next two. Especially if he finishes the fights.

Tyler (Oklahoma )

I really enjoy watching the Diaz brothers fight, and I've watched them both for a long time, but they cant wrestle. Styles make fights and I don't see either one of them getting by a top wrestler, just like its been for them in years past. Cerrone should've listened to Greg Jackson and took him down. I think the outcome would've been different

Brett Okamoto
  (1:06 PM)

At the end of the day, I give full credit to Diaz for the win. I don't say, oh Cerrone screwed up and that's why Diaz won. He came in, got Cerrone off his game and beat him up. I agree with you that a wrestler will always be the toughest matchup for either Diaz brother, but Nate fought Gray Maynard and wasn't out of his league. He's also growing into his body at 26, dangerous on the ground, he's capable of beating a wrestler.

Adam (Toronto)

next UFC card I watch I will refrain from watching any of the build up, the promos etc. I actually thought Lesnar was legit returning to the cage in top form. Guess he never prepared for the striker to strike him.

Brett Okamoto
  (1:07 PM)

I was fairly harsh on Brock's performance after the fight and I haven't changed my mind. I don't blame the guy for walking away, that's his decision. But it seemed to me his mind was pretty much made up and we didn't get the best version of him, which, when you've got people paying money to see you, you should give them that.

andrew- harrisburg pa [via mobile]

which is more likely GSP vs silva or jon jones vs silva?

Brett Okamoto
  (1:07 PM)

Neither look likely right now, but ultimately, Jones/Silva would happen over GSP/Silva I believe.

Ed (mission viejo)

Hey Brett, why do you think Brock decided to stand up with Reem vs wrestle and do you think him already planning to retire had anything to do with what seemed to me a bad game plan.

Brett Okamoto
  (1:08 PM)

Yep, he had a foot out the door. The going got tough early and the motivation wasn't there to push through it and fight for a takedown.

Marc (Chicago, IL)

The UFC rewards exciting fighters more than winning fighters (e.g. Fitch vs. Leonard Garcia). Do you think that is affecting the way guys are preparing for fights? Cain, Lesnar, and Cerrone didn't even try to wrestle against strikers.... Coincidence?

Brett Okamoto
  (1:10 PM)

Nah, I don't think so. Of course, some guys come in thinking, I'd like to stand and maybe take home a fight of the night bonus, but in big fights like the ones you mentioned -- Lesnar doesn't care. He's getting paid regardless. Cain just got off to slow start, ring rust, it was for heavyweight title. He wouldn't not wrestle in that type of fight. And Cerrone, like I said, I think he got caught up in the moment.

kid (Orlando)

Guillard said his fight w/ Miller on was a #1 contenders fight. Do you actually see this happening, as I say the winner of Pettis vs Lauzon would be higher - as should Nate Diaz.

Brett Okamoto
  (1:11 PM)

I hadn't seen him say that. Yeah, I don't think so. They are both coming off losses, how is that a No. 1 contender fight? I'm with you, I expect Pettis/Lauzon winner to face Diaz for title shot.

Trevor (Minneapolis)

More impressive on Saturday: Johny Hendricks or Jimy Hettes?? What's the next step for both??

Brett Okamoto
  (1:12 PM)

That's a tough one. I'm going to say Hettes because he dominated for 15 minutes, which is more impressive to me than landing one punch, even though it was the perfect punch, in less than 20 seconds. Both were awesome though.

Brett Okamoto
  (1:14 PM)

Oh, and next step for both. Hettes is young, just beat Nam Phan who is good, but not top tier. Move him slow, have him fight middle of the division-type guy. For Hendricks, he's up there. Probably one fight away from a title shot I would think?

huck (miami)

How do you think Jon Jones would do at Heavyweight against top 10 guys?

Brett Okamoto
  (1:14 PM)

Very, very well. It'd be interesting to see where he would put on weight and how it would affect his speed.

Gerry (San Francisco, CA)

What you would rather take: Alistair Overeem's rib/liver kick or Jon Jones' elbow?

Brett Okamoto
  (1:15 PM)

I'd rather eat the elbow, personally.

Steve (Kimberley)

Reem deserves a lot of credit for passing up the offer from the ufc to wait and fight the winner of Cain/JDS for the title. Instead he jumped right in to take on Lesnar. Gotta respect that.

Brett Okamoto
  (1:15 PM)

Agree.

Gerry (San Francisco, CA)

Which Japanese fighter is more likely to get cut if he loses at UFC 144: Akiyama, Gomi, or Yamamoto?

Brett Okamoto
  (1:16 PM)

Geez, all of the above. It'd be hard to argue to keep any of them at this point, with a loss.

Fraser (Scotland)

Mark Hominick has been dealt a bit of a body blow by joe silva with his next fight?

Brett Okamoto
  (1:17 PM)

That's what happens when you almost break the UFC record for fastest knockout (but you're the dude getting knocked out). I think the matchup is fine, Hom needs to win in front of his home crowd.

ryan (wi)

If you take brock lesnar right after college and get him training mma, you would've had a heavyweight who would have rewritten the story of the ufc. He would have so dominant that guys like randy couture wouldve been almost an after thought.

Brett Okamoto
  (1:18 PM)

I agree, unless he never got used to getting hit. Over time, I think he would have gotten used to it, but then again, some people just weren't built to get hit in the face. I consider myself one of those.

Jarric (Kansas)

Are you going to be one of those that discredits Overeem's win over Lesnar? He destroys a top 5 Heavyweight, yet all people say is "diverculitus is why" "brock was cruising for the paycheck" "Overeem was a coward for attacking a known weak spot (the body)" "ring rust" etc. etc. To those who do not like him, discrediting him will not change his relvance as a top 3 heavyweight.

Brett Okamoto
  (1:20 PM)

I can't deny I think the Lesnar that Overeem fought was not the best version of Lesnar by a long shot. But that said, I was still very impressed with Overeem despite how disappointed I was in Brock. And I do give him a real shot against Junior.

Mike (Quad Cities Iowa)

What do you think about Chael saying he is going to fight GSP or Bones for the title and not Silva. Any truth to this or just Chael being Chael.

Brett Okamoto
  (1:20 PM)

Chael being Chael.

kid (Orlando)

I'm taking Munoz over Sonnen, and also believe he'll give Anderson Silvia a better fight. No way I see Chael being able to pull of that type of performance against Silvia, even if he were to brat Minister.

Brett Okamoto
  (1:21 PM)

I gotta disagree. I think Sonnen will beat Munoz and give Silva another competitive fight.

Steve Mtz (New Mex)

Brett, you are the man, but let me take this chance to say I TOLD YA SO! AO steamrolled, and JDS is going down next. Get Some

Brett Okamoto
  (1:22 PM)

Okay, I give you credit for the Overeem pick HOWEVER ... I did pick Nate Diaz, which I got a TON of hate for AND ... I didn't know Lesnar was about to retire when I picked him. That would have significantly altered my pick.

Bryan (Springdale, AR)

Will MMA ever develop the equivalent of an 8-count in boxing? I'm not an intense fan, more casual, and am getting really annoyed at these short fights.

Brett Okamoto
  (1:24 PM)

No it won't and the majority wouldn't want it too, Bryan. Short fights is part of the game, you'd have MMA fans say they're sick of boxing matches that constantly go the distance. In MMA, if you get a guy hurt, you have the opportunity to end his night right there.

Mark (STL)

Is the Guillard-Miller fight really a number 1 contender fight even though they both lost their last fight?

Brett Okamoto
  (1:25 PM)

There's no way.

Marc (Malden, MA)

I am a huge Brock Lesnar fan, but I am so dissapointed in him. One single leg attempt? The entire fight I'm yelling at the tv "take his a## down."

Brett Okamoto
  (1:25 PM)

Me too. And when he did attempt the single leg, he had Overeem off balance, just didn't finish it like he usually does. It was just a very disappointing showing by Lesnar, no way around it. Still gotta give Overeem credit for the win, though.

Matt (PHILA)

I am disappointed by the negative reactions of some fans following Brock Lesnar's loss and subsequent retirement. Can you name another fighter who has faced stiffer challenges in their first 7 fights in the UFC? Also, I believe diverticulitis sent Brock into retirement, not Overeem.

Brett Okamoto
  (1:27 PM)

I'm not taking anything away from what Lesnar did in his career, just pointing out his last fight was fairly awful. I agree diverticulitis cut short his career, but if he wasn't 100 percent, don't agree to headline a major UFC card to close out the year.

rob (jersey)

Hey Brett, what's up? Buy/Sell: Lawler/Amagov being as exciting as Lawler/Manhoef

Brett Okamoto
  (1:29 PM)

Impossible to guess, should be a good fight though. Actually the entire Strikeforce main card this weekend is good. Woodley is like the fourth fight? Mo vs. Larken is good. I really do like Luke Rockhold, too. Potential is there for him to shake 185 up when he eventually goes to UFC.

Gerry (San Francisco, CA)

Which two current NHL players would you like to see face off in an MMA fight?

Brett Okamoto
  (1:30 PM)

Sorry man, I don't really watch hockey. Can we do it with another sport?

Denny (Earth)

What's your take on ranking the WW division?

Brett Okamoto
  (1:31 PM)

What do you mean, just what are my rankings? You can see all rankings at ESPN.com, click on power rankings in the main bar at the top. Go through each division and it shows how all ESPN correspondents rank each division. I think I've got it right now: GSP, Diaz, Condit, then I can't remember.

Ryan (El Paso)

Brett!!!!!!!!!!!!You agree Overeem is a nightmare style matchup for Dos Antos?

Brett Okamoto
  (1:32 PM)

No, there is no nightmare style matchup for dos Santos right now. He's pretty good against anybody.

MMA Fan (New York)

Who would you favor in a Dong Hyun Kim vs Hendricks fight?

Brett Okamoto
  (1:32 PM)

Hendricks.

JP (Columbus, OH)

Brock looked entirely disinterested walking to the Octagon - obviously if the guy was planning his retirement before the fight, he could not have possibly been 100% physically or mentally.

Brett Okamoto
  (1:32 PM)

Yep.

Marc (Malden, MA)

I was very dissapointed in Cerrone. He looked so stiff on his feet, then made zero attempt to fight on the ground. I know Diaz is a blackbelt, but he was getting his butt whipped in the standup.

Brett Okamoto
  (1:33 PM)

There were definitely moments he should have tried to grapple. He knew that after the fight, too.

kid (FLA)

Nezt for "The Mailer" Gustaffson? I say a nice matchup would be w/ a soon to be returning Thiago Silvia.

Brett Okamoto
  (1:33 PM)

Yeeaahhh, I like that a lot. Good call.

AJ (Tampa)

What does Fedor's future look like? He's still knocking dudes out and looking good while doing it.

Brett Okamoto
  (1:34 PM)

My guess? He doesn't fight in the States ever again. Continues to compete overseas.

Chris (Boston)

Fedor crushes another can! Any chance of him heading to the UFC - there is nobody for him to fight that isn't under contract w/ bellator or zuffa....

Brett Okamoto
  (1:35 PM)

Dana seems disinterested in signing Fedor. Does that mean he won't? Absolutely not. But I just don't see it happening, with all the history there. Even though Fedor's stock has fallen, I still think his management and Zuffa would have a hard time agreeing on terms.

Trevor (Minneapolis)

Do you think an Anderson Silva/GSP type dominance will be harder to come by in the future? People always say "we don't even know about the next great fighter", but you gotta figure with more people getting into MMA = tougher competition = harder to sustain greatness...

Brett Okamoto
  (1:36 PM)

Yes, I agree with that. But just because it becomes harder, doesn't mean I don't think it will happen. Dominant champs will still pop up.

James (MN)

I didn't hear, did Brock sustain any serious injury from the fight?

Brett Okamoto
  (1:37 PM)

There's been no confirmation, at least to my knowledge, what type of injury Brock sustained. If we find out, it will most likely be from UFC. Brock isn't a guy who tends to share private information like that.

kid (FLA)

Chael can talks all he wants, because he's going to get humbled when Mini KO's him within 2 rounds.

Brett Okamoto
  (1:38 PM)

Mini?

Nathan (Montreal)

Recently you said you would be SHOCKED if Overeem failed a drug test. Do you mean shocked because he was caught or shocked because you don't think he's using PED? If it looks like a duck...

Brett Okamoto
  (1:39 PM)

I said I'd be shocked if he got to Vegas and failed that test after everything that happened with his random test in November.

Mike A. (Boston)

odds of Jardine looking good at 185? The guy admitted he hasn't weighed 185 since high school, can't be a good look for him.

Brett Okamoto
  (1:40 PM)

I'm interviewing him today, in about an hour actually. We'll see how he looks. I agree with you though, I'm not expecting an easy cut for the Dean.

Zach (St. Louis)

Whats up Moto. Hey, Do you think Cerrone looked stiff against Diaz? He didnt looked like himself to me. Also, Will Chael Sonnen be a champ one day??

Brett Okamoto
  (1:40 PM)

I've talked about Cerrone, don't think he was stiff, just think he got tunnel vision after he lost the first round. Will Chael Sonnen be a champ one day ............................ yes.

Brian (FLA)

You think Ronda Rousey or Sarah Kaufman should get next shot at Meisha. Looks like Rousey is doing a good job promoting herself into that fight.

Brett Okamoto
  (1:42 PM)

Rousey is phenomenal at promoting herself. She's turned into one of the top 3-to-5 recognizable women fighters in basically a span of 12 months. Definitely see her fighting Tate in 2012.

Paul B (NY, NY)

Buy or sell- Condit is the toughest matchup for GSP in the WW division.

Brett Okamoto
  (1:43 PM)

Tough one dude. I'm going to say sell though. Diaz has the better guard, which is important against GSP because you know you're getting taken down. I like Diaz to not get thrown off by GSP's jab either.

Jeff (Clearwater)

Wouldn't a great fight be between Dos Santos vs. Hendo?

Brett Okamoto
  (1:44 PM)

Dan? I think Dan would be too slow, Junior's speed makes him real tough to tie up in the clinch, which is where Hendo likes to take guys down from.

Zach (Toronto)

Winner of Ellenberger v Sanchez to face Hendricks for a title shot?

Brett Okamoto
  (1:44 PM)

That's a real possibility. Ellenberger/Hendricks is a great fight. Similar styles, both got power. Both athletic. I'd like to see that.

Dustin (Nebraska)

I honestly think Dos Santos plans on taking down Overeem because he's not a dumb fighter and wants to keep the belt.

Brett Okamoto
  (1:45 PM)

Really? I think Dos Santos looks at Overeem and thinks, 'I'm waaaaay faster than this guy.'

Scott (New Mexico)

Do you think that Cerrone is a guy that always folds in the big fight, that he gets mentally drained or overwhelmed by it and can't fight up to his potential because of it?

Brett Okamoto
  (1:46 PM)

Kind of. I don't think it's as clear cut as that and I think it's something he can come out of at some point in his career, but yeah, he doesn't fight as well in these high-profile fights. That said, he fought Ben Henderson and Nate Diaz in those high-profile fights, so it's good competition that's doing it to him, too.

Gerry (San Francisco, CA)

How about football? I'm sure James Harrison can last 3 rounds.

Brett Okamoto
  (1:47 PM)

If we're talking football, I want to see athletic WRs fight, like Larry Fitzgerald vs. Calvin Johnson.

Brian (FLA)

Mendes is in for a beating against Aldo IMO. agree?

Brett Okamoto
  (1:48 PM)

Well, if that happens, I won't be shocked. But I also think we shouldn't sleep on Mendes. I think at this point, the best way to probably fight Jose Aldo is take him down and stay conservative in his guard, control position. That's what Mendes does. So, I give him a shot to actually win the fight. Buuuut, it is still Aldo.

Dave (Saint Louis)

Person outside the UFC you would most like to see join the UFC?

Brett Okamoto
  (1:49 PM)

Gilbert Melendez. Then ... probably Eddie Alvarez.

Jay (CT)

You just stated that you think Sonnen will be a champ one day. I hope you are talking about the champ of another organization because which current UFC Champ would you see him taking the belt off of?

Brett Okamoto
  (1:50 PM)

I could see Anderson Silva either leaving the weight class (not entirely likely but at some point, who's he gonna fight?) or retiring. I could see Sonnen still having a few good years left at that point. I could then see the UFC putting him in another title fight because he draws an audience and, can't deny this, he does beat guys. Then I could see him winning the belt. I wouldn't really put money on this scenario, but play it out a little bit. Could happen.

Robert (Hammond LA)

what are your picks for SF

Brett Okamoto
  (1:51 PM)

Rockhold, Lawler, Mo, Woodley, Saffiedine. Is that all favorites? I think so.

@PappaFeez (Dallas)

The betting line on Vitor vs Rumble is fairly even. That is surprising to me as I feel Vitor has faced far better competition and Rumble is moving up a division

Brett Okamoto
  (1:52 PM)

Me too. I thought Belfort would be in -200 range.

AJ (Tampa)

Brett you dont want to see an undefeated prospect Ben Askren in the UFC?

Brett Okamoto
  (1:53 PM)

I do. But if I could only pick one non-UFCer to come, I'd probably pick Melendez and Alvarez above Askren.

Greg (DC)

There are several HWs (Kongo, Fedor, Werdum, Griggs, Herman, Cro-Cop) that fight at Jon Jones' walking around weight. Do you think any of them could cut to 205 and give him a real challenge? I'd really love to see Jones in a fight where he isn't the bigger guy.

Brett Okamoto
  (1:54 PM)

First of all, looking at the names you just mentioned. I would let them weigh whatever they want against a 205 Jones, and still expect Jones to dominate them. In general, I don't think a heavyweight cutting weight and depleting his body is the type of guy to beat Jones. It's got to be an athletic, natural, 205er.

Brian (O-town)

Rory Macdolad will be WW champ before 2012 ends. Just saying.

Brett Okamoto
  (1:54 PM)

Write it down. You heard it here first.

Brian (Orlando)

See alot of people saying Davis is going to beat Rashad. Davis is a top-notch talent for sure, but don't think he's ready for Rashad yet - and don't give him of a chance.

Brett Okamoto
  (1:55 PM)

No chance at all? I give him a chance, but I like Rashad to win.

Sven Carlson (Jefferson, MO)

If Andy leaves MW and Chael wins the belt, wouldn't it be a really cheap title reign though if he doesn't beat Silva for it outright?

Brett Okamoto
  (1:56 PM)

Nah. A belt is a belt. No shame in saying, "I couldn't beat Anderson Silva." No one can.

Newt (Libya)

Okamoto-San! Do you think Zuffa is oversaturating the market with all their events in 2012? How much is too much?

Brett Okamoto
  (1:57 PM)

Previously, I have never thought the UFC did too many shows. My mind might change in 2012. We'll see.

Kid (O-town)

Your FOTY? - Shogun vs Hendo or Chandler vs Alvarez. I know Shogun vs Hendo is bar far the run away choice - but I like Chandler vs Alvarez better.

Brett Okamoto
  (1:57 PM)

I respect your opinion, but Shogun/Hendo was the fight of the year. No doubt in my eyes.

Ed (Work)

Diaz over Cerrone...I was wrong, you were right. You're the best and I'm the worst. You're very good looking, i'm not so attractive...

Brett Okamoto
  (1:58 PM)

Don't be so hard on yourself Ed. Nobody took Diaz! My twitter was full of people calling me an idiot.

Jay (CT)

I have never seen Hector Lombard fight any real competition (I don't think anyone has) but in your opinion where would he fit into the UFC middleweight ranks? top 5? top 10? worse?

Brett Okamoto
  (1:59 PM)

Maaaaaybe top 10. Not top 5.

JRC (Illinois)

Do u see anybody in the near future matching the size and wrestling as lesner coming into the octagon?? College or even olympic caliber or is that size something we wont see for awhile?Lesner was a beast athletically and physically

Brett Okamoto
  (2:00 PM)

Eventually, probably. But Lesnar was definitely a 1-in-1,000,000 kind of guy, physically.

Kevin (Mile high)

Any new news from BJ Penn? Is he unretired yet?

Brett Okamoto
  (2:01 PM)

No news. Dana hasn't heard from him. He was going to the Philippines last I heard for vacation. I think he'll be back in first half of 2012 ... hopefully as a lightweight.

Jeff (Clearwater)

Are you able to go as long as you want in these chats or do the suits at ESPN set you a time limit?

Brett Okamoto
  (2:02 PM)

It's up to me. I usually stay as long as there are a lot of questions still posted, or until I have to be somewhere else.

AJ (Tampa)

Where's Jacare at?

Brett Okamoto
  (2:03 PM)

Have not heard anything recently on Jacare, and I was actually just wondering that myself when I talked to Rockhold last week. Unless he's injured and I didn't hear, gotta think he'd be on the next Strikeforce card.

BDG (FLA)

Don't you think Aldo needs to move to 155 sooner than later. Not much left for him after Mendes, as I don't see Edgar dropping to 145 any time soon.

Brett Okamoto
  (2:04 PM)

I agree. If he beats Mendes he's beat all the 145ers I'm really interested in seeing him fight. And it's been well documented that weight cut is somewhat brutal on him.

Nathan (Montreal)

Nice to see this chat going into overtime. I think one of the main reasons Anik was so liked by the chatters was the amount of time he put in with us

Brett Okamoto
  (2:05 PM)

As long as I got nowhere else to go, I'll stay. I like talking MMA. Wednesdays are rough though, because I usually have open-workout interviews to do if it's a fight week.

Ken (ca.)

Love to see R. Macdonald eventually fight Nick Diaz with the back story the Nate beatdown.

Brett Okamoto
  (2:06 PM)

Yeah, that'd be cool. I doubt there's any animosity between the two, but by the time they fought, Nick would probably create some.

Tommy (Denver)

Schaub/Rothwell? Is this a gift fight for Schaub to get him back on a winning streak? Rothwell looked terrible his last fight

Brett Okamoto
  (2:07 PM)

He really did. It is a gift, but sometimes gifts backfire. If Schaub loses this one, it's TERRIBLE for the dude's career. Rothwell has barely been able to stand in the later rounds of his UFC fights.

Bryant (Long Island)

Any word on a Matt Serra return? He hasn't given the impression that hes "done" yet.

Brett Okamoto
  (2:08 PM)

He hasn't given that impression in what he's said ... but judging by the weight he's put on ... I don't know. If he never fights again, I wouldn't be shocked.

Brett Okamoto
  (2:09 PM)

Alright guys, I gotta get going to the Strikeforce workouts. Thanks for joining, we'll see you next week and talk that Brazil card.