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September 19, 1:00 PM ET
Chat with Josh Gross

Josh Gross
  (12:59 PM)

What's up MMA fans? I'm stepping in for my main man Brett Okamoto today, who's in Toronto with Franklin McNeil covering UFC 152. Expect stuff today from the open workouts. Hit me with your questions. This is my first chat for ESPN.com, so be nice.

Nick (Perth (OZ) )

Hi Josh, Obviously your going to get inundated about Vitor?s chances againt Jones this weekend. My view (both before and after reading the ESPN UK article on Belforts strategy) is that it will be lucky to go past the middle of the second round (and that?s being very generous). I still want to see Jones/ Henderson but realize that this might be a way off. How quickly do you see Jones fighting again ? (assuming he suffers no damage ? and also taking into account Zuffa will want him to make up for the UFC 151 debacle) and secondly (assuming it?s not Henderson who also seems to have committed an error by not declaring his knee problem and has now been designated an eliminator match with Machida) who do you see as being the next Jones victim (sorry challenger)?

Josh Gross
  (1:02 PM)

Let's just start by saying, Australia dominated the pre-chat question queue. I don't think Jones fights until early 2013. UFC is locked with monster fights through fall and winter (barring injuries, which, of course, we cannot bar).As far as his next foe post-Belfort, really hard to say. Henderson, Machida, Sonnen, Rua, Gustafsson ... there are fights to be made.

Michael H (Memphis)

Do you think Evans vs Henderson would be a better fight than Machida vs henderson at some point early 2012?

Josh Gross
  (1:03 PM)

Assuming you meant early 2013. I like both matchups. We haven't seen either. They play out as competitive, interesting stylistic contests. I'd be happy either way.

Patrick (Broome (OZ) )

Hi Josh, I'm in WA and am thinking about going to the Gold Coast for the Smashes finale although it's in a very small venue (whereas all the Sydney events have been in the Indoor Olympic arena). I?ve been to the Sydney events the last 3 years and enjoyed the whole experience especially the meet and greets, fight club promos / Q&A. Although I like and admire Sot?s will it be worth going to or would I be better off watching it on TV?

Josh Gross
  (1:06 PM)

Gold Coast is supposed to be beautiful, right? Hey, you're familiar with what it's like to be at a UFC show. I guess it depends on how much you're into Ross Pearson vs. George Sotiropoulos. Hector Lombard is on the card too against Rousimar Palhares -- that's a more interesting fight if you ask me.

Nick (Perth (OZ) )

Obviously there's a lot of discussion about injuries especially in regard fighter withdrawals (from UFC 151). The insurance policy has been in for a while. Has anyone from Zuffa commented (I realise it's a private company) on how it's going - I'm sure given how many fighters are getting injured - the premiums must be going through the roof!

Josh Gross
  (1:08 PM)

Yeah, this discussion that sprang up around the UFC's insurance policy intrigued me. Like somehow fighters were bowing out because they're covered?! And as a result, UFC should disband insurance! That's lunacy. As for policy premiums, it isn't cheap but it's the right thing to do and is another important item that distinguishes UFC from other promoters in MMA.

@CReese87 (Pensacola)

Get those tips from Anik Josh? Look ahead to the UK card for me, Other than the main event, any fights you are really interested in seeing? Gunnar Nelson's debut for me.

Josh Gross
  (1:10 PM)

Hey Corey. No, JA didn't offer any help. But I think I'm getting the hang of this.

Josh Gross
  (1:12 PM)

As for the UK card, I'm interested in Miocic-Struve. Miocic impressed me against Shane Del Rosario. And I'm curious to see John Hathaway again. Can Paul Sass pull another triangle? That guy is a machine. As for Nelson, great submission guy. I'm excited to see him take a step up.

RUDY (TEXAS)

WHAT ROUND DOES JON JONES FINISH VITOR?

Josh Gross
  (1:12 PM)

ROUND 1.

Alex (Concord, NH)

Now that Mir is out for Strikeforce OKC, does Zuffa try to get an Arlovski or Devin Cole or even Tim "Dana hates my guts" Sylvia?

Josh Gross
  (1:15 PM)

Injury bug strikes again. Really too bad this one had to be ruined. So many interesting angles to be had. I would have picked Cormier to win, by the way. As for who might get the call, after the disaster that was Arlovski-Sylvia IV and the anticipation for V I don't think either guy gets the call. UFC is in a bind here because their heavyweight roster was on lockdown after the all heavyweight card a few months ago. Mir was the right guy at the right time for Cormier.

Andrew Burt (Toronto)

Anderson Silva's next opponent at 185 pounds will be.....?

Josh Gross
  (1:17 PM)

Chris Weidman presuming he beats Tim Boetsch -- and that's even if Michael Bisping tears through Brian Stann on Saturday. On my podcast this week we discussed the idea of the Weidman-Boetsch winner fighting the Bisping-Stann winner. I'm fine with that to establish a true No. 1.

Matt Perkins (Denver, CO)

Personally, I believe Michael Bisbing has been coddled by the UFC his entire career. But, I would love to hear the intelligent resume-based arguments FOR Bisbing deserving a title shot. I don't even have the Brit beating Stann this weekend, but if he does, I specifically would like to know your thoughts on Bisbing's resume verus that of someone like Alan Belcher. Thanks,-Matt PerkinsDenver, CO

Josh Gross
  (1:19 PM)

I'm picking Bisping to beat Stann. But insofar as making a case for the guy, I can't. (Read my previous response.) Alan Belcher is in the mix as well, but he has to stay healthy. How scary does a fractured spine sound?!

RJ (OH)

Josh, any news on when Pawel Wolak will make his MMA debut?

Josh Gross
  (1:21 PM)

Haven't heard anything since he announced his intention to transition from boxing to MMA. He's serious and is someone to watch. World class boxer with a strong wrestling background. He's a Jersey kid managed by Monte Cox. I'm sure we'll know something soon.

Stephen (Ireland)

What can be done to re-vitalise the tired TUF format?

Josh Gross
  (1:22 PM)

You tell me. I forgot the new season debuted on Friday. Anyone watch it?

Jeff (NYC)

GSP-Condit winner and how?

Josh Gross
  (1:24 PM)

I called this on MMA Live a few weeks ago. I'm picking Condit. I think he's a bad style fight for GSP, and with the champ coming off a long layoff due to knee surgery that's even more of a reason to think he'll give up the belt. If St. Pierre beats Condit I'd venture to say it's the most impressive win of his career. The pressure of returning from a busted ACL. The prospect of fighting Anderson Silva. Plus Condit is a bad man.

Ed (Work)

Josh, welcome. A favorite of Moto was line making. Give us a line on Hendo/Bones ever happening.

Josh Gross
  (1:25 PM)

Thanks Ed. I prefer to leave line making to the recently married Okamoto, but I like Henderson to fight Jones next year. So, better than 50/50.

Eric (Reston, VA)

TUF started out great this season and the previews look like it will be full of drama. How do you like Roy Nelson v Shane Carwin?

Josh Gross
  (1:28 PM)

Ohh, drama. I was talking about this fight the other day with a friend. He put it to me like this: Nelson gets hit way too much and Carwin's punches seem to detonate on people. I kinda bought it. Can't be sure on where Carwin is physically. He's 37 and hasn't fought since last summer. But if Nelson allows himself to get touched the way he usually does, I don't think he's in the cage long with Carwin.

@PappaFeez (Dallas)

If Vitor loses as everyone assumes he will, where does he go from here? And what if he does the unthinkable and actually wins? Then what?

Josh Gross
  (1:30 PM)

Back down to 185 where, outside of the front kick to the face by Silva, he's been tremendous. Should be clear by now that Belfort will do whatever he's asked to do by Zuffa. If he wins then it has to be an immediate rematch with Jones. Yeah, everyone is tired of rematches but this one is justified.

Wilkie (Toronto)

How can the UFC promote Silva/Bonnar as a competitive fight? Anderson destroyed Griffin and that was over 50 UFC events ago.

Josh Gross
  (1:30 PM)

They can't. But they'll try.

Ed (NJ)

Josh, with all the injuries and incidents that have occured over the last few fight cards. Do you think that the UFC will decrease the number of events next year?

Josh Gross
  (1:32 PM)

Nope. They're locked into a big TV deal with FOX that demands a ton of events. So fulfilling everything for FOX, FX and Fuel plus the UFC's need to make money on pay-per-view means we'll get the same amount for the foreseeable future.

Matty-Ice (Detroit)

When's Pettis/Cowboy going to happen? Fuel/Fx main event in early 2013? That fight gives me goosebumps.

Josh Gross
  (1:33 PM)

Not sure on a date, but I'm with you: Love the fight. Winner?

Matt (Nashville)

How you got in Struve vs. Miocic?

Josh Gross
  (1:34 PM)

I'm leaning Miocic. Tough guy and he can wrestle Struve if need be.

@PappaFeez (Dallas)

Swanson vs Oliveira should be a hell of a fight, who do you have winning it?

Josh Gross
  (1:36 PM)

Great fight to kick off the pay-per-view in Toronto. For all of Swanson's ability and recent success I don't think he has as many ways to win as Oliveira. Do Bronx wins by something crazy, probably.

Shay (Kalamazoo, MI)

All the Jones/Vitor absurdity has covered up a lot of fights. Benavidez/Johnson, Bisping/Stann, Swanson/Oliveira, and Grant/Dunham are great matchups with interesting repercussions. What is, to you, the most intriguing fight on the 152?

Josh Gross
  (1:38 PM)

You're dead on Shay. I think the main event is the fourth best fight on the card. For me it's Benavidez vs. Johnson. I wrote a column on the fight that should be up tomorrow. For the piece I spoke to Dominick Cruz (only guy either fighter lost to) and he had some tremendous insight. In the end he said he's leaning towards Benavidez and I agree. Joe's power is a difference maker. Of the two, though, Cruz said Johnson surprised him more; DJ was super sneaky with his footwork and made it tough to counter. Thing is, Benavidez will press Johnson more than Cruz did, so countering isn't as big a deal.

Trevor (Minneapolis)

Anderson Silva = Apollo Creed. Stephan Bonnar = Rocky Balboa. Rocky was a great movie, will be even better in real life!!!

Josh Gross
  (1:39 PM)

If you say so.

Rick (Kansas)

2013 is inching closer and from my understanding, that is when Showtime has to determine if they want to keep Strikeforce or not. Do you think they will? (god I hope not)

Josh Gross
  (1:41 PM)

Yes, I think Showtime holds onto Strikeforce. It's delivering subscribers to the network and consistent ratings despite the low-rent treatment it gets from Zuffa. Crazy thing is Zuffa is actually making money off the deal thanks to Showtime's licensing fee. They can't sell a ticket, but somehow it's working to their favor. The card on the 29th is depressing though. Poor Gilbert Melendez.

Rick (Kansas)

Mousassi used to be a pretty active fighter, but I haven't heard anything for months. Where's he at? What's next?

Josh Gross
  (1:43 PM)

Biding his time for a fight. Mousasi is a disappointment in my eyes. The guy is wasting away and refuses to get into a good camp that will shore up his weaknesses.

Mark (Boston)

I read how Dana said that there is not enough top level talent in women's MMA. Is there anyway that Zuffa, Bellator and/or Invicta can start recruiting better female athletes (Olympians)? Seems like Zuffa is making excuses.

Josh Gross
  (1:47 PM)

Yes, totally. White's stance on women's MMA is wrong. Watch out for Sara McMann and, as you correctly mentioned, other Olympians. Female wrestling is growing in popularity and we'll see some of them matriculate to MMA because that's where the money is. White sees the potential of a Ronda Rousey (he seems to be reveling in it) but they have to cultivate contenders and there are women capable of emerging. No question.

Ted (Boston)

As for updating TUF: Maybe have Anik and Florian call the fights and allow fans in to watch. The stale-quite environment hurts the excitement factor.

James (CT)

Agree on Carwin/Country. An old Cro Cop at about 30% of his formal self would've beaten Roy except he was fighting with one arm.

@PappaFeez (Dallas)

What kind of PPV buyrate do you expect UFC 152 to get? 500k?

Josh Gross
  (1:49 PM)

I tend not to speculate on PPV numbers. It's among the most messed up business models on the planet. Jones has moved the needle in the past so a solid figure is definitely possible. I'm just guessing but I'd say less than 500K.

James (Billerica)

Any chance that Zuffa convinces Showtime to not pick up the option on Strikeforce? This roster could use some of the talent over there to fill up the PPV and FX cards.

Josh Gross
  (1:51 PM)

Anything is possible. Zuffa tried to buy out the rest of the Showtime deal when the sale first happened in 2010, but Showtime declined.

Matt (Nashville)

It's a ways out, but who ya got in the Bendo vs. Nate Diaz fight?

Josh Gross
  (1:51 PM)

Diaz. I think he's a bad matchup for Henderson.

Andy (Chicago)

Have you heard anything on Josh Barnett? Is he going to fight again for Strikeforce? Does Dana bring him back to the UFC? Thanks.

Josh Gross
  (1:52 PM)

He has one more fight in Strikeforce. Don't know the opponent yet, but that's the plan. Then the heavyweight division would be scrapped.

Coleman (Baltimore)

Off work in time to make the Chat. Whats up Josh! How much of a chance do you give my boy Joe Lauzon against Maynard?

Josh Gross
  (1:54 PM)

Good man, Coleman. Boy ... tough for Lauzon. Maynard doesn't make many mistakes and he'll dictate where the fight goes. Lauzon is tricky though. I'd have to pick Maynard.

@PappaFeez (Dallas)

Mousasi is extremely talented but his lack of growth at defending takedowns is disappointing. Ugh.

John (NYC)

Are there actually more injuries now than in the past or are UFC fighters less willing to fight when not 100% due to the ramifications that a loss can have in a fighters marketability (i.e. $)?

Josh Gross
  (1:56 PM)

More events and thinner cards (in terms of known talent) makes it feel like there's a pandemic running over the UFC. I do think fighters are more cautious (i.e. smarter) about these things. Can't say I blame them. Their shelf life is minimal. These are the years when they have to cash in. Taking a fight when you're not up for it just seems dumb, even if it messes up Zuffa's plans and frustrates fans.

Brett (Minneapolis)

Hey Josh, of the 4 HW's that are headlining cards over the next 2 weeks(Struve, Miocic, Browne, Bigfoot) which one has the best chance at winning a title in the future?

Josh Gross
  (1:58 PM)

Hmm, Browne or Miocic. Not saying they'll ever get that far. Silva's a known commodity. Struve, even though he's young still, has been exposed (including by Browne). If Browne and Miocic win that's a fight I want to see.

Kevin (Mile High)

Best way to revitalize the Ultimate Fighter....have it all women with Rousey and either Tate or Cyborg be the coaches.

Rick (Richmond)

Trevor in Minneapolis does remember that Rocky LOST to Apollo Creed, correct?

James (CT)

Could you elaborate on why PPV is such a bad business model? Or maybe write an article about it?

Josh Gross
  (2:01 PM)

Not a bad business model. But attempting to accurately gauge numbers is risky business. It's a fractured system, with cable and satellite operators employing different reporting methods. All PPV numbers you see are guesstimates.

Ryan (Columbus OH)

It looks like a really good fight card this weekend. Whats your one must see fight on the undercard?

Josh Gross
  (2:04 PM)

Off pay-per-view I'm interested in TJ Grant vs. Evan Dunham. And the return of Jimy Hettes is worth watching.On pay-per-view I'd say Swanson-Oliveira in terms of pure action.

Bill (So Cal)

What do you think of the Rockhold-Larkin fight? Has a chance to be a slugfest? Or does Rockhold look at the Lawal fight and take it to the ground immediately?

Josh Gross
  (2:05 PM)

Rockhold, takedown, submission.

Crabman (MD)

This chat has been great. I would welcome you becoming a regular.

Josh Gross
  (2:05 PM)

Thanks, I'm enjoying this. Would love to do it on a regular basis.

LarrySandersJoe (Newark, Notts, UK)

Afternoon, Josh. What's your position on elbow strikes? Personally I'm fine with forearm blows, but not on an elbow bone to the head

Josh Gross
  (2:06 PM)

Six of one, half dozen of another. I'm perfectly comfortable with 'em unless you're talking 12-6 downward elbows, which are illegal for good reason.

Ryan (Columbus OH)

How would you feel about a Rashad Evans vs Lyota Machida rematch?

Josh Gross
  (2:07 PM)

It will happen at some point. As another person mentioned earlier, I'd rather see Evans-Hendo or Machida-Hendo first.

Josh Gross
  (2:07 PM)

I'm good for another 15 minutes and then it's time to go. Thanks again for the great questions.

Ryan (Columbus OH)

On Roy Nelson's facebook page, he said he has asked Dana White for the opportunity to step in for Frank Mir. Any chance of that happening?

Josh Gross
  (2:08 PM)

With Nelson on the hook to fight Carwin, I doubt it.

Tyler (Oklahoma)

How is Diaz a bad matchup for henderson? Wrestling is key

Josh Gross
  (2:10 PM)

Diaz's length, volume punching and submissions. Henderson gets himself in trouble and he's been miraculous at escaping, but against Diaz I don't think he can get away with that kind of stuff. Plus, as he matured Diaz isn't so prone anymore to suffer under the weight of strong wrestlers.

Cody (Madison, WI)

It upset me Jones took flack from Dana WHite and others for not stepping up to fight Schonnen, what did Jones have to gain by fighting a guy who just lost and is moving up a weigh class?

Josh Gross
  (2:12 PM)

I'm with you. Jones got a raw deal. The only advantage to fighting Sonnen would have been to put him away now so you don't have to hear him talking later. It was a rough spot for Bones but I think he made the right call. The sort of call you'd expect from any athlete, and maybe that's why it upset people so. They've come to expect MMA fighters, especially those in the UFC, to risk life and limb and not operate in their best interest. Good for Jones.

Mike Hawk (Nebraska)

Is Bisping going to circle to Stann's power hand, thats how Hendo KO'd him and that's the way he always circles to

Josh Gross
  (2:12 PM)

Better not. Stann has one-hitter-quitter power.

john (work)

How did you break into MMA journalism? What was entry point, and path?

Josh Gross
  (2:14 PM)

I began covering MMA in 2000 when it was illegal everywhere and dead. I was a fan and trained for several years, then discovered journalism and was fortunate enough to combine the two. It was a totally different time.

Trevor (Minneapolis)

How would an in his prime Iceman fare against Bones?

Josh Gross
  (2:15 PM)

Liddell would have been a threat to Jones. I really believe that. Massive power. Strong wrestling. He didn't get baited into stupid tactics. Liddell kept things simple.

Chad S. (Chicago, IL)

Josh, welcome aboard. A lot of people are dismissing BJ Penn's chances against MacDonald but people tend to forget that he took Machida to a decision and arguably won the first GSP fight. Can I have your thoughts on the fight and BJ's chances?

Josh Gross
  (2:18 PM)

I think you have to favor the kid in that fight. MacDonald is much larger and more athletic than Penn. The Machida and GSP fights were many moons ago. Machida was an ugly boring contest. Plus Machida went the distance with everyone back then. I'm picking MacDonald.

Eric (Indiana)

Whats next for Rampage?

Josh Gross
  (2:18 PM)

Big mystery. If he wants to fight he has one more bout in the UFC to get through.

Jenn (Columbus)

Josh, glad to see you chatting! Between you and Mindenhall, ESPN has really stepped up its game. Was wondering what was the best thing about going to Japan?

Josh Gross
  (2:21 PM)

Thanks Jenn. Good reminder, check out Chuck's chat on Fridays. I have many great memories of Japan. I think the way fighters were treated stands out to me. Remember, MMA was struggling in the U.S. Paydays were sparse. Pride paid fighters very well and it always seemed like an adventure. I don't miss the long flights. I do miss the breakfast buffet at the Tokyo Hilton.

mARK (NOWHERE)

josh what would u rate the 152 card on a scale of 1 to ten id give it an 8 pretty stacked card from top to bottom what do u think?

Josh Gross
  (2:23 PM)

I like the pay-per-view a bunch. Could do without Hamill-Hollet but other than that it's good fun. On paper, I'd agree with you: 8. As I mentioned, I'm fired up for Benavidez-Johnson.

john (work)

Last question: Who's your breakout fighter for 2013?

Josh Gross
  (2:28 PM)

Difficult question. I'd say keep an eye on two guys that are competing in the next couple weeks. Jimy Hettes at 145 and Paul Sass at 155. Sass could be an important fighter for the UFC in the UK.

Josh Gross
  (2:28 PM)

Hey everyone, thanks for participating and following along. Hopefully this isn't the last time I get to do this. Signing off for now. Enjoy the fights.