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!
Buzzmaster (1:15 PM)
Hang on folks, it looks like Brett may have gotten tied up in this new login system we have for our chats.
Brett Okamoto (2:11 PM)
Wednesday chatters! Did anyone stick around for me? Sorry for the technical issues, we changed up a few security details on our system and it's been throwing many off ... but I'm here now! Plenty of questions to get to, feel free to throw a few more at me. Again, our apologies for the delay.
Who Do You Think Will Anderson Silva Take On Next?
Brett Okamoto (2:14 PM)
With the announcement of Belfort, Belcher in October, to me it kind of seems like that's a No. 1 contender fight. Weidman is the obvious answer, and I think if AS comes to the UFC and says I'm ready to fight let's do it, Weidman becomes the clear leader, but I just don't know what the chances are of sending Weidman to a title fight like that coming off a Fuel card. His skills are there, his name isn't quite yet. And AS isn't a guy fighting 3-4 times a year anymore, so take some time, let the division sort itself out a bit. I think Weidman fights one more time before a title shot, but we'll see how soon AS wants to get back in.
Paul (SF, CA)
What happened to Lombard? Was he hurt? Did his dog run away?
Brett Okamoto (2:16 PM)
Lombard is who he is. He faces a reach disadvantage basically every time he gets in the cage. Tim Boetsch I think was clearly a step up in competition from what he had been facing. Against lesser guys who would come in and stay within that range, Lombard was potent. Against a better, smarter, Boetsch, he never got the opportunity to throw his flurry. My disappointment was, watching the fight the speed advantage of Lombard was apparent and that's how you nullify a reach advantage (or at least, it's a good start). He never took advantage of his speed though because he stood so flat footed and only wanted to counter strike.
Im glad I watched the prelims on sat... they were much more entertaining than the PPV fights
Brett Okamoto (2:16 PM)
They certainly were. I was in Calgary for the disaster that was 149. Never seen such an angry crowd.
John (St. Petersburg)
What exactly did Tim Boetsch do to win his fight? All he did was throw measly leg kicks, whiff on takedowns, and back up the whole fight. That was one of the worst decisions of the decade
Brett Okamoto (2:18 PM)
Nah John, I've got to disagree with you. It was close (and ugly) enough to score for either guy, but Boetsch dictated the range and landed the better of the exchanges for the most part in rounds one and three. To go along with what you said, what did Lombard do to win the fight? And I didn't get the sense that Boetsch was "backing up" the whole fight. He came forward and would then back out of range, it wasn't a track meet type of fight like we saw in Guida/Maynard.
Dana said that the Spider will not fight until Dec or January. Weidman could fight winner of Bisping /Stann in the interim.
Brett Okamoto (2:18 PM)
Yeah, that's what it's looking like to me. I was personally expecting Anderson back around January/February (Super Bowl card) range.
So Weidman vs Boetsch then?
Brett Okamoto (2:20 PM)
These last two have been the most likely possibilities. If you're Weidman, the Boetsch fight would sound fine to me I gotta believe, but remember the UFC needs to build this guy's name so a fight against the likes of a Bisping or Stann would get the job done better.
Does Evans makes sense for AS? And when AS destroys him, does Evans become a gatekeeper?
Brett Okamoto (2:21 PM)
I just can't see Rashad Evans at 185. He's a pro and a very hard worker so I think if he commits, he'll make the weight, but I don't think he'll be the same. If he were to drop and fight AS, I don't think he'd stick around 185 to be a gatekeeper. Gotta remember, without Jon Jones, Rashad Evans is probably our 205-pound champion. He's not nearing a gatekeeper status at all in my mind, he just can't beat Jon Jones.
Belcher v. Belfort should be a great match up. Who's your early favorite?
Brett Okamoto (2:22 PM)
Yeah, I wanted Belcher/Weidman but certainly nothing wrong with this one. I see a lot of people on Belcher early, but my early reaction is Belfort. It will be one of those fights where if the one guy (Belcher in this case) can weather the early storm, he should have his way in the later rounds.
Greg (New Jersey)
Who do you like in the bader-machida fight on fox?
Brett Okamoto (2:23 PM)
I think you've got to go with Machida. He's not having the success he once was, clearly, but Bader (although he's growing and earning experience) is still a little young in his career to figure out a complex opponent like Machida. And give Bader a ton of credit for the Rampage win, but that really doesn't elevate him much in my eyes just because of how awful Rampage looked that week.
do you think rousey at -600 sounds right? isnt sarah kaufman supposed to be pretty legit?
Brett Okamoto (2:24 PM)
I'm not taking -600 on any fight, man. No way. That said, Rousey as a heavy, heavy favorite is correct. She's a far better athlete than Kaufman as far as I can tell.
Lombard stuffed take downs, landed the more solid punches, and had a take down of his own.
Brett Okamoto (2:26 PM)
The takedown Lombard got he did nothing with. Stuffed takedowns ... I only really "score" those if there was NOTHING else going on in the round, which there was. I would disagree he landed the more solid punches. He got a few in during the second round, which I gave to him, but other than that he was getting caught and then swinging at air or Boetsch was blocking him.
Jeff (Salt Lake City)
Glad you could work out the technical issues, Brett. Don't know what I would do without my Wednesday MMA chat. The FOX card's coming up soon. Obviously not a great main event but that card top to bottom looks solid. What fight are you looking forward to most?
Brett Okamoto (2:28 PM)
Glad you stuck around Jeff and I think we should be good moving forward. Yeah, I mentioned on twitter the other day I can't remember a prelim lineup so stacked with great fights. I like the Lauzon/Varner fight, having a hard time predicting a winner in that one. I like the Mike Swick, Demarques Johnson fight. Grispi/Yahya should be a good one. Was looking forward to Uncle Creepy before he got injured.
What do you expect to see from Mike Swick against DeMarques Johnson on the Fox card. Long lay off, but I think Joe Silva threw him a bone, if such a thing exists in the UFC.
Brett Okamoto (2:30 PM)
I agree. Like you said, hard to call any fight in the UFC "easy," but stylistically speaking, nice matchup for Swick. I talked to him yesterday on the phone and if there's one thing that helps out Swick is that he (at least seems to be) so calm tempered. I don't think we'll see him in tears walking in, even though it's been a looooong road back for him. He's a guy who will fight smart and he's very prepared. As he mentioned to me on the phone, he's been out of action for awhile, but this is actually his third fight camp during that time, so he's been improving and he's been in the fight mindset, even though he hasn't competed.
TJ Nashville [via mobile]
What's worse: Nick Ring's nickname or his decision win?
Brett Okamoto (2:31 PM)
The nickname. Terrible, terrible nickname. As far as the decision, don't get carried away watching only the third round. I scored it for McGee, but the first round was a tough one to score. Sometimes you can beat the other guy up worse, but the more important thing is to win two of those three rounds. The second round was definitely Nick's.
Zach (St. Louis)
To me Chael Sonnen can still beat most of the contenders at MW. Maybe Weidman would give him troubles, thats it. Sucks that Sonnen could still fight his way to contention at 185 but as long as Silva is champ I dont think he gets another shot. What do you see Sonnen doing?
Brett Okamoto (2:34 PM)
Have to wait and see. I think he's enjoying some time off right now. Lots of speculation about him moving to light heavyweight. I actually think as far as guys who could potentially move up a weight division and do well, he's one of them. He's very durable, he's fearless, he's got great wrestling. I think he probably could stay on top of 205ers with a lot of the same success he has at 185, but we'll see. He's a man without a clear path right now, for sure.
Tom (Lincoln, UK)
Let's talk the UK talent pool. It's no longer Bisping and Hardy; but Sass, Ogle, Watson, Manuwa, Young, Hathaway, Pickett and Maguire. How bright is the future looking for UK MMA?
Brett Okamoto (2:35 PM)
I'm surprised to see you giving up on Bisping. I would say the UK talent is still 100 percent personified in Bisping the most. He's potentially one win away from a title shot. If there's any Brit to give up on it's Paul Daley at this point, if you hadn't given up on him already. As far as the guys you mentioned, hard not to really like Paul Sass. Only 23 years old, dude's only going to get better. I really like Pickett, but he was steamrolled by Renan Barao.
Peter Venkman (We came, we saw, we kicked its )
What's one fight on the next UFC Fox card that intrigues you that's not getting enough pub?
Brett Okamoto (2:37 PM)
Prelim fights really never get a lot of pub when you think about it. In terms of action, I think Varner/Lauzon will be terrific and glad it's on the main card. Then like I said, Grispi/Yahya should produce some good series.
Captain Howdy (Georgetown)
Davis-Prado: how do you see it playing out? Shouldn't Prado have gotten a more "stepping stone" type guy to start out with? Would a win launch Davis back into the title contender picture (good luck against any of the top LHWs, though)?
Brett Okamoto (2:37 PM)
The UFC would very much like Phil Davis to be good. He's very charismatic, looks like a super hero, certainly has the raw tools to be a force. Wagner Prado, to me, looks like a guy to get his confidence back up after the demoralizing fight against Rashad Evans.
Keith (Tupelo) [via mobile]
Who has a better shot of winning their next fight Rampage or Hendo?
Brett Okamoto (2:38 PM)
This one made me think ... in the end I've got to go Hendo for sure because he wants to be there.
Willy Cheapshot (Jersey City)
Thoughts on future TUF season taking the gatekeepers, UFC vets, and a couple up and comers in a sort of Comeback season like they did years ago. Winner get's a #1 contender fight for right to fight for belt. Would draw ratings and create new feuds for all the middle of the road UFC fighters.
Brett Okamoto (2:39 PM)
Yeah, I see that thrown out there quite a bit. I like the idea personally, but I haven't heard anything that suggests it's even close to happening. I agree with you though, the show needs ratings. To my knowledge though, they're not even considering something like this.
Not scoring take down defense is the problem with MMA grappling. It gives additional incentive to going for several takedowns that may not even be likely, hoping that you score one. If volume take down attempts only have an upside, what's to stop people from exploiting it?
Brett Okamoto (2:42 PM)
I see what you're saying, but the fact is we do see guys defend the takedown and then create space and work their own offense. Defending takedowns is part of the big picture, but we're judging fights here. How many points can you really award a guy for sprawling or keeping his balance along the fence? If it's an entire round of nothing, then maybe takedown defense counts for something, but in this sport you've got to be able to not only defend the takedown but then transition into a better position against your opponent.
Any word yet on who Comeir is fighting? Also what is up with Josh Barnett does Dana want to see him back in the UFC?
Brett Okamoto (2:43 PM)
Strikeforce announced today that Cormier's opponent, for Sept. 29, should be revealed in the next few days. Josh Barnett, as far as right now, is in same position. One more SF fight then to the UFC.
zac (irvine ca)
what kind of percentage % are you giving dan henderson on landing that big H-BOMB and hurting jon jones?
Brett Okamoto (2:44 PM)
Ummmm, I'm going to go with a .... 35 % chance he lands the H-bomb. Not just a right hand, but THE h-bomb. I think Jones could probably absorb at least one of them, though. Every way I see the fight going down, I see Jones winning.
Alexis San Diego [via mobile]
Cant wait till Henderson Edgar II is over so we can get on with the division. I hope that never happens again. The whole situation was ridiculous. I understand a rematch after a draw but a close fight? Silly in my opinion.
Brett Okamoto (2:45 PM)
I've got to agree. The fight was close but at least in my eyes, a clear cut, noncontroversial win for Ben Henderson. I understand Frankie gave two rematches before that, but if we're handing out title shots these days just to be nice ... what are we doing? I love Frankie Edgar man, I've got him at like No. 5 on my p4p list, but he lost the fight. There was no real need for an immediate rematch other than it was "the nice thing to do."
Matt Riddle finish was the highlight of UFC149, agree? Ridiculous form to latch on arm triangle while standing.
Brett Okamoto (2:46 PM)
Yeah that was good and I honestly was simply happy to see Matt Riddle fight smart for once. I know the guy loves to brawl and I'm all for brawlers, but with his athletic abilities he could be better than what he is. He actually had a game plan for once at 149 and it was his best performance.
trigger, west jordan utah [via mobile]
if unsuccesful in the rematch against benson henderson, what are the chances frankie edgar will consider moving to featherweight? if not who will he fight next? the victor of the guillard cerrone bout?
Brett Okamoto (2:47 PM)
If unsuccessful at 150, I really believe we'll see Edgar at 145. Like 80-20 he goes to 145. Let's not cross that bridge until we get there though. I've definitely learned to never count that guy out.
Mark C. Huntington Park, Ca. [via mobile]
After a disapointing ufc debut who does Hector Lombard fight next?
Brett Okamoto (2:49 PM)
I think absolutely, hands down, no doubt about it you have him fight Mark Munoz right? He's calling Munoz out before the Boetsch fight, which was ridiculous ... give him what he wants I guess. Lombard's entire debut with the UFC has been so weird so far. You're calling out literally the nicest guy in the sport before a fight which many believe could propel you to an immediate title shot? Why?
Jeremy ( new york ) [via mobile]
Why doesnt nobody talks about jose aldo being one of the best or maybe the bes fighter after silva ? I think hes a better fighter than jones
Brett Okamoto (2:52 PM)
I wouldn't say nobody talks about it. He's pretty much a consensus top 5 guy. I think there are two reasons we haven't seen him break into that No. 1, No. 2 spot ... First, it's just hard to unseat guys who are already there. As long as Anderson and GSP keep dominating, it's tough for even the likes of Jones to get in there. But second, Jose had some wins that while he was never in trouble in them, were somewhat lackluster. You felt he could have finished Faber, but didn't. He beat Florian but didn't really threaten to finish him. You see what's happened to Mark Hominick lately ... and Jose couldn't finish him in 25 minutes? Don't get me wrong, Aldo is awesome. But he hasn't unseated guys like Jones, GSP or Anderson. Or even Cruz in my opinion.
Alexis [via mobile]
Hey Brett, got my first UFC card coming up August 4th. I cannot see how Bader beats Machida. Machida will most likely wear him down from the outside. Seems like a bit of a mismatch.
Brett Okamoto (2:53 PM)
Yeah, kind of seems like a mismatch to me too. Bader can be a little sneaky with his speed, but I don't think he's got the footwork and the general standup know-how to get inside Machida's range. You're probably pretty accurate in guessing Machida stays on the outside and tries to pick him apart.
Has Faber now become a gatekeeper, rather than a real title threat?
Brett Okamoto (2:54 PM)
In the near future, yes. But like I said in an MMA Live segment after the show, he's 33. He's got plenty of good years left. To say he'll NEVER get back to a title seems dramatic to me. The truth is there still isn't too many guys at 135 who can beat Faber and with a rivalry built in against Cruz ... it's not impossible he gets back there.
Pepe berna nm [via mobile]
Whats the odds carlos condit knocks out gsp?
Brett Okamoto (2:55 PM)
Not sure, but the early odds on him simply winning the fight are +275. Intriguing to you?
Moto, I gatta feel a little bad for Faber. A broken rib early had to affect his ability to close the distance on the longer Barao. Still Renan is a beast.
Gabe Saginaw Mi [via mobile]
What do U think of Baroa? I wasn't very impressed. The whole card was boring.
Brett Okamoto (2:57 PM)
Two differing opinions on Barao. I've got to say, I was impressed. The rib injury no doubt probably changed the fight ... but even had that not happened, it just looked like the accuracy, head movement, hand speed, composure of Barao had Urijah trumped. He didn't really move in for the kill, but it was his first 5-round title fight. Now that he knows what that's like, wouldn't be surprised to see him open up a little more. And even if he doesn't open up more, who cares? A decision win is still a win. I think he's a test for Cruz.
Jimmy Tennessee [via mobile]
Hey Brett! What is ur take on the Gulliard cerrone fight? I like gulliard and have always said he's one of the best lightweights and would make a epic fight with Henderson....I just think he has to mature and take a page out of koschecks book and just do jujitsu for a year
Brett Okamoto (2:59 PM)
Guillard/Cerrone has got to be one of the most attractive fights on paper of the entire year. I can see what you like about Guillard of course, but there is unfortunately reason to believe if he hasn't "got it" when it comes to the grappling aspect of this sport by now, he never will. And that's a huge, huge problem if he's going to unseat Henderson.
Marty (San Francisco )
Do you find credible the suggestion by some that Lombard deliberately fought a lame, uninspired fight in order to face Munoz? Or does that border on the absurd?
Brett Okamoto (2:59 PM)
Sounds to be in the absurd category to me.
Jake Swampscott, Ma [via mobile]
Hey Brett, what's the latest on JDS/Cain and will Overeem have to wait til 2013 to see the inside of the Octogon again ??
Brett Okamoto (3:01 PM)
Still no official word on JDS/Cain ... although I continue to hear nothing that says it's not happening by the end of the year. As for Overeem yeah, he keeps saying he wants to be back in December but he's not up for relicensing until Dec. 27 and UFC co-owner Lorenzo Fertitta told me they would not promote him in a fight until he's licensed. So, unless they're going to announce him in a fight and promote it in the final 3-4 days of 2012, he's sidelined until 2013.
How is the UFC any different for NOT making Silva vs Jones, then Bob Arum and Golden Boy for not making Floyd vs Manny??? In fact its worse cause they have both fighters in house
Brett Okamoto (3:03 PM)
There are still other guys for Jones and Silva to fight as of right now. There was no problem with Jones fighting Evans ... and now Hendo. Henderson is a bigtime underdog but at least he's still good. Silva same thing. He just fought Chael Sonnen, which was one of the most anticipated fights of the last five years. To have Manny and Floyd fight a past-his-prime Shane Mosley ... or a young, clearly overmatched Victor Ortiz ... or (in the case of Mayweather) an undersized Juan Manuel Marquez ... those fights don't make any sense. At least Silva/Jones still fighting guys that make sense.
Alexandre (Rio de Janeiro)
Hey Brett, Coming to Rio in October??
Brett Okamoto (3:04 PM)
I hope so man, I haven't been yet and the crowds look so amazing down there. I also really like how the card is shaping up.
I think Travis Browne makes a statement vs Rothwell, and takes his next step up the HVWT ladder. You think he has the skills to crack the top 5 in the division?
Brett Okamoto (3:05 PM)
Yeah I do. The way of the heavyweight right now is you've got to be an athlete. JDS and Cain are such athletes. They're quick, their reactive speed is great, good footwork, strong cardio for bigs ... you've got to be an athlete to beat these guys and Browne is an athlete.
Would UFC ever put on a card where guys on losing streaks fought and the loser got cut or is that too WWE for Dana?
Brett Okamoto (3:06 PM)
They basically do that without saying it. There's typically one/two guys you can point to on a card and say, yep that guy's job is on the line. If you're talking about putting together an entire card based around that premise, that would never happen. For starters you'd have an entire card of guys on losing streaks which no one wants to see and yeah, that's a little too WWE.
From what you saw of Barao in the Faber fight, who would u pick in a Cruz-Barao title fight?
Brett Okamoto (3:07 PM)
Early prediction is still Cruz, but I'm expecting the betting lines to be close. Maybe Cruz -145? Anything higher than that and I think you've got to take a gamble on Barao.
tdiddy (winnipeg) [via mobile]
I "argued" nonstop with Chost about Guillard. Anyone who thinks Melvin is a top 10 'w needs to get their head checked. Yes, he hits hard, but is either too stubborn or not very good at the ground game. The cowboy is going to make him look bad...again.
Brett Okamoto (3:09 PM)
Right now Melvin isn't in my top 10. But a couple more wins and he'll probably pop back in. Is he a one-trick pony for the most part? Yeah. But that one trick is good enough to beat 85% of the guys in the lightweight division.
Will Cerrone try to take Guillard down? Cerrone has got great standoff but may as well try to make Guillard uncomfortable.
Brett Okamoto (3:10 PM)
Yeah that's a great question we're all going to be asking ourselves as the fight nears. Cerrone is well aware of Guillard's strengths and weaknesses. Truth is, he could probably submit him and it would be the safer route to go. We all are hoping for the dream standup fight I'm sure, but we'll see. It all depends on what Cerrone's confidence level is, having seen Guillard millions of times in the gym.
What would hurt the sport more and which do you think has the highest chance of occurring:A) PED'sB) Death in UFC eventC) Gambling ScandalD) UFC 149 occuring several more times in next year
Brett Okamoto (3:12 PM)
The first two you mentioned are both awful. I'd actually say probably B. Death would be the worst. We've seen other sports survive PED scares ... and I think as commissions continue to get better and hopefully have more financial resources it is going to be tougher for these guys to cheat. The UFC 149 situation, that's just not going to happen that often. You just don't see many fight cards where every bout disappoints. So, I'll say death and unfortunately, at some point in our lifetime I do think we'll see that happen.
Just listened to the pre-fight conference for 152. Rory seems overly confident he will dominate BJ. What are your thoughts on the fight?
Brett Okamoto (3:14 PM)
Rory needs to be confident. That's the only area where I could give BJ an edge in this fight, is if he can get into the head of his younger opponent and play that "legend" card. So, was it a little cocky what Rory said? I guess, but I like the fact he's cocky going into this fight. I've met Rory and he doesn't seem like a guy who will look past someone as talented as BJ. I think him being confident is a good sign, not a bad one.
Dissapointed to see Palhares injured and out of the Okami fight. Do you think they should've just pulled Okami off the card and wait for a better opponent? - As Okami vs Buddt Roberts is just meaningless.
Brett Okamoto (3:15 PM)
Yeah, it is and I could see why you pull Okami off, but really, who do you want this guy to fight? He's never going to sniff another title shot against AS considering how the first fight went and his loss to Boetsch was a fairly historic letdown. Why does this guy deserve a huge fight? We know what he's capable of but in terms of moving guys up and down a ladder, why not give him a guy he's supposed to beat at this point?
Should Lombard take Dana White's advice to move down a weight class?
Brett Okamoto (3:17 PM)
I guess you could argue that at 170 he wouldn't fight as many guys with such significant height and reach advantages, but at the end of the day, unless he's willing to mix things up and become more than a flat-footed, stationary, counter puncher he's going to lose to the top 170ers too.
Assuming, as we all do, that Jones gets by Hendo next month, does he move up to HW or stays longer in 205? Will he get an instant shot at the HW title?
Brett Okamoto (3:18 PM)
The only 205er that makes much sense left is Alexander Gustafsson, and they need to build his name to make that fight. Glover Teixeira is an option, but like Gus, he needs a lot more name recognition. We're still waiting to see what happens with Gus. If they book him a fight soon and he looks good, then that's the fight you make. Otherwise, yeah, let's go ahead and move Jones up.
So after going 1-4 in his last 5 fights, Dan Hardy apparently thinks he can choose his own matchups? I hope they make Riddle vs Hardy - if Hardy gets by Sadollah.
Brett Okamoto (3:20 PM)
Haha, well, actually Hardy was asking for Matt Hughes even before he beat Ludwig, so really, he's trying to make his own fights even when he was 0-4 in his last four. I could see them making the Riddle/Hardy. Riddle is a character man, he's a guy who could build a fan base just because he's good in front of the camera but he's got to win more fights.
The lose and just change weight classed thing is just old in most cases - as in the Lombard one. Moving down is not going to solve the problems he had vs Boetsch, which were being too timid, reach disadvantage, and better competition. It wasn't like he was mauled by someone too big for him, as he actually took Boetsch down. Plus, IMO he won the fight - albeit not impressively.
Brett Okamoto (3:21 PM)
Disagree he won the fight, but with you on everything else.
Brett Okamoto (3:22 PM)
Alright guys I'm gonna go ahead and wrap it there. Thanks a lot for sticking through the technical issues and as I said, I believe we're all good moving forward, shouldn't be an issue. Hit me on twitter anytime @bokamotoESPN with more questions or comments and see you back here next week.