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 (1:05 PM)
What's up guys? Lots of news this week in the MMA world and I'm curious as to what you all thought of the TUF premiere. Pat Curran gets the job done in Bellator as well ... in a fight that went ridiculously too long. And hey, if we end up touching on some NCAA predictions I guess I'd be okay with that, too.
Am I only the one who doesn't really care if the UFC releases Rampage? I think he's going to get dominated by a game Rua as his send off as well.
Brett Okamoto (1:07 PM)
I agree Shogun is a pretty tough matchup for Rampage right now, but how come you don't care if he leaves UFC? The guy does still have an exciting fight style, even if he doesn't always have the ability to stay on his feet so he can use it. He's not washed up ... it wasn't THAT long ago he beat Lyoto Machida. He's still entertaining.
So Rampage v. Shogun will be "Whampage's" last fight in the UFC. Who are you picking and will Rampage be going to Bellator?
Brett Okamoto (1:10 PM)
I'm thinking Shogun and I don't know about Rampage going to Bellator. I'm not sure what he'll be asking for financially. Bellator has it's own thing going and we've seen in the past they're not always willing to throw a bunch of money at a fighter exiting the UFC.
Any word on Jessie Larsen's injury? And what are the chances Dakota Cochrane gets added to TUF?
Brett Okamoto (1:13 PM)
I would say small, although he would certainly be a candidate wouldn't he? I will say this about Cochrane, I believed the UFC would want to have him on the show because of the potential interest in him, but I definitely thought they didn't give him an easy matchup. He fought a rangy opponent with good takedown defense ... it was a tough fight for him to win. I was kind of surprised by that.
DrainBamaged (Dublin, Ireland)
Fedor v Rampage under the m-1 banner, impossible?
Brett Okamoto (1:15 PM)
Anything's possible. Out of the options out there, would think Rampage would definitely listen on that one.
Is it just me or was the best last Rampage fight out there Tito? Two legends in their last (ufc) fight seems A LOT better than the alternatives chiefly tito v. forest which nobody wants
Brett Okamoto (1:17 PM)
Nah, you can't do that to Tito. I, like the rest of you, have never had a ton of interest in Tito fighting Forrest again, but at least in my opinion Rampage is still on a much higher level than Tito is right now. If it really is Rampage's last fight in the UFC, I'm cool with it being against Shogun. If he had won in Japan, Dan Henderson would have made sense.
Jeff (Fairbanks, AK)
If you hold a title in another org (SF, Bellator) and are actually good (Alvarez, Melendez), it seems like taking a loss to get out of the champions clause part of the contract is the smart thing to do in order to get to the UFC and their more lucrative contracts. What say you?
Brett Okamoto (1:20 PM)
If you're willing to take the financial hit of negotiating with the UFC following a loss. I see what you're saying but no, you can't throw a fight as a champion looking to land a lucrative deal in the UFC. And even though these champion clauses exist, Hector Lombard is a champ right now but reportedly his clause has expired and there's no guarantee he'll be staying with Bellator.
Thoughts on who Demian Maia should make his debut @ 170 against? I'm think Diego Sanchez
Brett Okamoto (1:20 PM)
Hmm, hadn't thought real hard about this one yet ... let me pull up a list of the welterweights here ...
Brett Okamoto (1:23 PM)
Few different routes you could go. Sanchez is a good option, he'll push Maia, we'll see what his gas tank looks like at 170. You could give him a relatively unknown prospect, like Lance Benoist, that way if the prospect wins he gets a big name on his record or Maia perhaps gets a finish. You could feed him to the dogs as a half-way punishment for that terrible showing on Fox and have him fight a guy like Jon Fitch, who's coming off a loss. I'd like any of these choices.
Kevin (Mile High)
I know you have talked about his before, but what is the purpose of having an interim title if you are not going to defend it? Has Dana ever commented on this?
Brett Okamoto (1:24 PM)
Well, I guess we should point out that he would have defended it if they would have made the Condit rematch. As far as what is the purpose, it's just a marketing tool so they can say there is a "title fight" on the PPV. Personally, I see why it doesn't make sense but I guess it doesn't really BOTHER me because at the end of the day everyone is still fighting who they would have be fighting interim title belt or not.
Maia and Jake Shields would be interesting, but boring.
DrainBamaged (Dublin, Ireland)
Brett, wouldn't you have rather seen Mir v Werdum than having Frank led to slaughter against Cain? I like Mir a lot but Cain could blow his doors off and I don't think that proves a lot for him. Werdum/ Mir would have been a very compelling fight.
Brett Okamoto (1:27 PM)
I'm tempted to agree with you. Cain is a very tough fight for Mir stylistically, but I guess you counter that by saying if he wants to fight for the title, he needs to win a fight like this. I had thought they would go the Werdum route and that was definitely discussed, but it would have been in Brazil and I think that turned Mir off on the fight. Stylistically though I completely agree, I would have rather seen him fight Werdum.
Marc T (Phx)
Looking at the LHW rankings. That division desperately needs new blood! Used to be my fav div now it may be the UFC's weakest. Machida, Page on downside of careers, Bader a pretender, Davis & Gustaf are question marks..
Brett Okamoto (1:29 PM)
Yeah, part of that is obviously Jon Jones but it does seem like a division full of aging stars. You could add Forrest Griffin to that list. Dan Henderson has to slow down at some point. I'm glad it's getting Thiago Silva back but yeah ... it could use some fresh faces.
Jeff (Salt Lake City)
Nate Diaz recently said he feels like Nick is really done/retired and won't be back. Do you have any kind of an update on Nick? I know he filed something with the commission.
Brett Okamoto (1:30 PM)
He filed a response to their complaint for disciplinary action, which isn't exactly an appeal but it's a document that challenges their contention he tested positive for a "prohibited substance." Why do that if you aren't going to fight again? He's fighting again.
Ultimate Warrior (Parts Unknown)
Aldo vs. Edgar, Pettis vs. Bendo would have been much better scheduling wise. Now Aldo stays on the shelf with no one to dance with.
Brett Okamoto (1:31 PM)
I agree and it seemed like the UFC agreed as well ... but they felt they owed Frankie Edgar that rematch and in a way, I guess they kind of did. Eventually, I think we'll see Pettis/Henderson still. As do I think we'll eventually see Edgar/Aldo.
Kenneth (Marietta, GA)
Random question I've never seen addressed here or by most MMA analysts; what were your thoughts on the MTV show "Caged?" Was it good for MMA, did it show any future prospects and maybe some insight on younger fighters trying to make it? I know it's MTV and geared toward teenagers, but could it have benefited MMA overall?
Brett Okamoto (1:33 PM)
Honestly, I haven't watched it. It's never a bad thing to have the sport on a network like an MTV where more people are being exposed to it. If a bunch of MTV fans end up watching the show and are then drawn into the sport, then it's a good thing ... although I haven't heard anything on how they portrayed the sport. It would be easy to portray it in a negative way if you wanted to, but it doesn't sound like "Caged" did that.
Sad that Rampage is leaving. The man had a point with regards to how he was viewed. He puts on a fight each time he comes out. But, he missed weight for the first time in his career (At least with the UFC) and they bash his performance. He sells, and that is enough for the UFC on a business perspective. No one asked what was wrong with him, for him to come to the Bader fight that heavy. Since the division loses him, there are less high profile matches to be made...Thoughts?
Brett Okamoto (1:36 PM)
I think Rampage probably has legitimate issues with the UFC. It sounds like he's coming from a standpoint of ... I've made the UFC a lot of money. I've fought injured for them. I've made a lot of sacrifices in my life and I don't feel the promotion has acknowledged that ... both financially and professionally. But then, the UFC would say if it weren't for them, Rampage wouldn't be the star that he is ... probably would have never acted on the A-Team movie, so ... it's an interesting argument between the two right now.
Rampage didn't beat machida.. at best that should have been a draw, and if you scored that fight as a whole, Machida would have won it hands down.
Brett Okamoto (1:37 PM)
But fights aren't scored on a whole. There's an argument that they should be, but right now, fights are scored on three or five 10-point-must system rounds. I still blame Machida for giving away that fight. He didn't do anything in the first two rounds. Going by the current scoring system, yes, Rampage won the fight.
Dave Y (Chicago)
What do you think about Nick Diaz' lawyer's comments? Do you think it stands a chance? If he does win, would the suspension be lifted?
Brett Okamoto (1:41 PM)
It basically comes down to Nick Diaz is appealing disciplinary action on a technicality that he didn't test positive for marijuana, he tested positive for an inactive byproduct of smoking marijuana. Meaning, he didn't have a prohibited substance in his system at the time of the fight. I think just common sense, sit down and talk about it ... the lawyer brings up some interesting points but ultimately, Diaz did test over the allowed limit for marijuana metabolites. That's a rule established by the commission, whether you agree with it or not. He also claimed on his pre-fight questionnaire he didn't use marijuana at any time 2 weeks prior to the fight, which is inaccurate. I don't really see them siding with him and I think he will get suspended, but it should be an interesting discussion.
Who do you think they'll give Bader next? Bonnar? Silva/Gustafsson winner?
Brett Okamoto (1:43 PM)
I would say Silva/Gustafsson winner makes the most sense.
Should Bellator consider having the champions re-enter the following tournaments? Basically like a sports season. It's not perfect but would be more interesting then what they are dealing with now trying to find suitable contenders
Brett Okamoto (1:45 PM)
It's not a bad idea but it kind of goes against the historical model of combat sports. Plus, champions are the most marketable asset of an MMA company. You can market tournaments but look at the UFC. They don't even do tournaments. Their marketing stems off their champions. If you don't have champions defending their belts, you don't really have a face to your promotion.
Last week I mentioned Hendo territory: Losing two title shots in a row in two weight classes...It would have been tough for Frankie to come back from that...But he gets Bendo now and there is talk of Pettis vs. Aldo...I like it. Thoughts?
Brett Okamoto (1:48 PM)
We'll see how serious this is about Pettis dropping down. It's one thing for a manager to say, "Anthony would consider dropping down," and another thing for the guy to actually do it. Looking at him, it seems like he could cut to 145, but you never know and also, one of his best friends and teammates Erik Koch is close to the title in that division. Can it happen? Yeah, I'm sure an Aldo fight interests Pettis. Will it? I kinda doubt it.
Mac (florida) [via mobile]
What do u think of Anthony Pettis chances at 145 beating Aldo?
Brett Okamoto (1:50 PM)
If he does drop and fight Aldo ... man that's a great matchup. I'd lean Aldo but I could see Pettis pulling it off. How he handled the weight cut would be pretty significant.
I really like Bellator, but it's obvious that they don't have the talent out side of the top stars. Do you think they'll be able to build up a better roster?
Brett Okamoto (1:51 PM)
I think they have been building up a better roster ... the question to me is not can they build a roster, but can they keep their talent?
Marc T (Phx)
Cant wait for UFC 146! Havent looked this forward to a card in a while. Outside of main event for 145, that card is eh
Brett Okamoto (1:53 PM)
I would agree with that. I love the Miguel Torres/Michael McDonald fight at 145 though, and I think off the top of my head ... that's a prelim fight? So you don't even have to buy the PPV to see it.
I agree w/ Raff/Philly - I wouldn't mind if Rampage got released either. He's become like T. Owens in his last year at the Niners/Eagles/Cowboys. The bad out-weighs the good now. Your thoughts?
Brett Okamoto (1:56 PM)
I don't agree. I think Rampage is still a top 10 fighter in a division that is running out of marquee matchups to make. I think his marketability makes him more valuable than a lot of other fighters in the UFC. If he still wants to fight and if he's willing to train, I'm interested in seeing him and I want to see him fight fights that make sense, which only exist in the UFC.
Jeff (Salt Lake City)
Who do you have winning it all in your bracket? Your biggest upset?
Brett Okamoto (1:57 PM)
I've got Kentucky beating Ohio State in the finals. Biggest upset ... I've got Long Beach St. beating New Mexico, I think that's the biggest one in the first round at least.
Ultimate Warrior (Parts Unknown)
Say Edgar wins vs. Bendo. Are they really going to give us Bendo vs. Edgar 3?
Brett Okamoto (1:57 PM)
No. They will not do that.
Lot of good championship fights on deck here in 2012. Best chance for a title to change hands here in the upcoming months: Reem over Dos Santos, Evans over Bones, Sonnon over Silva, or Faber over Cruz?
Brett Okamoto (1:58 PM)
I would say Overeem beating Dos Santos. Then I would say Faber beating Cruz. Then Sonnen and Evans are about a tie.
I'm getting SICK and TIRED of everyone acting like Brandon Vera is the best fighter ever.
Brett Okamoto (1:59 PM)
I would agree with you ... if it were 2006. Seems like, at least to me, everyone is pretty down on Vera these days.
Paul B (NY, NY)
Any update on the scheduling of Mccall-Mighty Mouse? Guessing they want to get it moving asap to have clarity at 125.
Brett Okamoto (2:00 PM)
Asked Dana that last week, said "they are working on it." No news yet.
Any news on Jones? Hows his training in his upcoming fight.
Brett Okamoto (2:01 PM)
The only news worth nothing I've seen on Jones' camp so far is that Greg Jackson will corner him, which I was not AT ALL surprised by.
Do you think the pool at 125 is going to be filled by smaller 135ers that are already in the UFC? Or are they looking to bring talent in?
Brett Okamoto (2:02 PM)
Both. Of course there have been fighters dropping but I think as the UFC continues expanding into other countries, like Brazil, Japan, China, Mexico those are the areas that will produce more and more flyweights.
Jeff (Fairbanks, AK)
UFC 146 is going to be an advertisement for why cardio is important. That card has the potential to be really, really good or really, really bad.
Brett Okamoto (2:03 PM)
Good point. Nothing like a heavyweight fight between two dudes who can barely stand after the first 90 seconds.
Did they announce an opponent for anthony johnson yet? i saw he will be fighting at 185
Brett Okamoto (2:04 PM)
They have not announced an opponent, and for those who don't know, "they" now refers to Titan Fighting Championships and not the UFC. Johnson is hopeful he can fight his way back into the UFC at some point.
Whats your call on Pacman vs. Tim? I think I'm more exited on COtto-mayweather? who do u think will win on that fight? IM leaning on Cotto.
Brett Okamoto (2:07 PM)
Sorry to be boring, but I like Mayweather and Pacquiao in those fights. I'm more excited in Mayweather/Cotto, too. Cotto has the best shot at beating Mayweather since De La Hoya. But I think Mayweather will end up beating him pretty convincingly as usual.
tdiddy (winnipeg) [via mobile]
Was it just me or did it seem weird that there was no commentary durin the 16 fight on TUF. I know that there is no commentary on prior seasons but they usually had the coaches mic'd up. I could barely hear Dana et al and they did'nt add too much. Think they will put Chost and Kenflo on commentary for the live fights?
Brett Okamoto (2:08 PM)
Yeah, I didn't like that either but what Dana said to me was that he likes this feeling where "fans feel like they're peaking into a gym and not a paid-for sporting event." I get that, but if fans are peaking in for the first time they're going to be a little confused as to what exactly they're looking at and why no one is commentating on it. UFC is pretty smart in its production though, so if they feel that's the best way to present these fights, I won't argue too much.
Brett Okamoto (2:10 PM)
Alright, good stuff today guys as always. Good luck on your brackets. Meet back here next Wednesday and hit me up on twitter anytime, @bokamotoESPN.