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 (1:01 PM)
Pouring rain at my house in Las Vegas right now. A bit strange, but I like it. When you live in the desert, you actually miss simple things like rain, plants, grass -- at least I do anyway. But, far more interesting things to talk about today. Let's get to it. I was in attendance in San Diego by the way. Five hour drive for a 54 second fight ... sometimes that' s how this sport goes. What'd you guys think of Ms. Rousey?
Any ideas where the Dec 8th card might end up? Josh Gross said that he wants to put Rousey in the top ten p4p, Ive never liked Gross and think he misses the point of why the masses are turning to MMA, but now I think hes really lost it.
Brett Okamoto (1:03 PM)
Tyler, Dec. 8 card will be in Seattle, that was announced by the UFC yesterday. As far as ranking Rousey p4p ... where did Josh mention that? He had myself and Franklin McNeil on the podcast this week (should post tomorrow) and brought that up, both of us said we wouldn't have her ranked and I admitted the thought hadn't crossed my mind and probably never would. If we want to have a women's p4p, sure, but ranking her with the guys ... that's weird.
caveman from the 716 [via mobile]
Time to give. R.R. Alexis Davis. Even if she can't make it ugly and keep her on the feet at least she can fight on the ground. Till she goes up or cyborg comes down there arnt to many other fights.
Brett Okamoto (1:05 PM)
Yeah, we'll see how this Cyborg thing plays out. No need to print any contracts out for other opponents yet. Strikeforce doesn't exactly have a jam-packed schedule where they need Rousey to headline a card tomorrow ... there's time to have discussions with Cyborg and hammer out some things. Of course, she's still suspended, so obviously nothing happens until that's over with at the end of the year, but I wouldn't give up on that matchup yet. It's really the only one that makes much sense. If not Cyborg, I'd actually go back to Tate before I'd go to Davis.
Jay Hieron (Parts Unknown)
When I get inserted into a co-main event off the street, what does that say about the rest of the undercard? Seriously, I'm not one to complain because of all the free cards the UFC offers, but this is getting ridiculous. I hope Bones doesn't cry when the PPV numbers are lackluster, because the rest of this undercard should be free.
Brett Okamoto (1:07 PM)
Typically, PPV numbers follow the main event primarily and ignore the rest of the card. So if the numbers are low, I think it's due to several things, not just a weak undercard. It was supposed to be Josh Koscheck against Jake, which don't get me wrong, isn't a blockbuster co-main either ... yeah, don't know what to tell you. When the UFC is putting on this many cards, it can potentially water down a few PPVs so you're basically paying for the one fight. Just try to focus on the fact you get Hendo/Diaz, Shogun/Gus and B.J./Rory for free in December.
Nick (Perth (OZ) )
Hi Brett, The messages coming out of Anderson Silva's camp seem "odd". He's happy to fight GSP and Nick Diaz (both of which even at catchweight he'd have a significatant size and in some cases skill advantage) but wont fight Jon Jones or consider Chris Weidman - mainly because it's not a big enough "marquee fight". In Australia, the bars were fuller for UFC 148 than I've seen them for any probably any other event since UFC100. People went because they believed Chael could win just hte same as people belive Weidman would be a really good matchup. Thoughts?
Brett Okamoto (1:10 PM)
Thanks for bringing some Aussie flavor to the chat Nick. I agree with you mostly here ... especially on the Nick Diaz part. That idea is just ridiculous and rest assured it ain't happening. I think this is pretty clear business posturing by Anderson and you really can't hate him for it. We've seen Shogun turn down a fight recently, B.J. was turning down fights when he was in his brief retirement waiting for the one he wanted, Jones has talked about not wanting to fight Machida. It's the same thing here, Anderson sees Weidman and thinks it's high risk, low reward. I'm actually kind of okay with all of this because I personally want to see Weidman fight one more time before we throw him in with the best fighter in the world.
If GSP beats Condit do we see Silva-GSP in the Spring?
Brett Okamoto (1:11 PM)
Along these same lines ... here are my thoughts on the GSP/Anderson stuff ...
Brett Okamoto (1:12 PM)
Obviously this has all been brought up before. The UFC is clearly always going to be interested in this matchup, it's a big money fight. The problem was convincing the fighters. Gotta remember, it's a risk to both. Right now, they are dominating their weight classes, they are the champs and enjoy all the perks that come with it. Endorsements, promotional opportunities for the UFC, it all equals $ signs when you're the champ.
Brett Okamoto (1:12 PM)
But now, it's starting to make more sense for each of them.
Brett Okamoto (1:13 PM)
For Anderson, he's looking at a tough fight against Chris Weidman, who the casual fan doesn't know. So, if you're not taking that, you take a super fight. Which is scarier, JJ at 205 or GSP at a catchweight?
Brett Okamoto (1:14 PM)
For GSP, he just saw what Chael did to Anderson, which has to give him confidence he can have success basically trying to do the same thing. You add in the lucrative terms I'm sure the UFC would throw in to make this fight, it's a good move for GSP now.
Brett Okamoto (1:14 PM)
So, to answer your question, yes. It looks like things could really come together for that fight in the spring.
Is Jon Jones really as talented as we give him credit for? Or is his freakish reach just enough of an advantage to overlook his flaws?
Brett Okamoto (1:15 PM)
Mixture of both. He does make mistakes. I've seen him overcommit, but then have the ability to just take a step back, put a hand up, and be out of range to his opponents. He's still incredibly talented, technically speaking and he's got a style that's his own, but yeah, his freakish athletic abilities have definitely helped carry him so far.
auto update son
Brett Okamoto (1:16 PM)
Says it's on ... working now? Son?
As we get closer to Jon Jones vs. Dan Henderson, what are your real chances you giving to Dan Henderson for beating Jon Jones? Percentage wise...
Brett Okamoto (1:17 PM)
I'd say ... 10%. If they fought 10 times, I could see Hendo winning once. I guess.
Who do you think the UFC will have Frankie fight 1st at 145? Chad Mendes seems like a good matchup to me.
Brett Okamoto (1:18 PM)
Yeah, Chad was mentioned by another chatter last week. That wouldn't be a bad matchup. Others mentioned Korean Zombie, which is actually the fight I'd want to see the most, but I think the UFC would hesitate burning one of its top featherweight contenders in that fight.
Brett Okamoto (1:19 PM)
If I could see him fight anybody, it'd either be Zombie or the winner of Cub Swanson/Charles Oliveira (which, that's gonna be an awesome fight in itself by the way.)
I'm not a Jon Jones hater and as much as I like Dan Henderson I know Hendo winning is a long shot, but for some reason I can't wait for Jones to move up to heavyweight and get KO'd. Something about his lack of humility rubs me the wrong way, and that's usually corrected by a major ass whooping.
Brett Okamoto (1:20 PM)
You're not the only one feeling that these days. Jones has lost the boyish charm of his early UFC days in the eyes of most.
Who should be more terried: the first person Edgar fights at featherweight or the first person Jones fights at heavyweight?
Brett Okamoto (1:21 PM)
In terms of the possibility of getting really beat up, the heavyweight. In terms of definitely getting a loss on his record, the featherweight.
Ultimate Warrior (Parts Unknown)
Jones views Machida as a high risk, low return fight. I agree it's high risk but if you think Jones v Gustafson or Jones v Texeria will get him more $$$, he's crazy. Jones v Machida is a fight I'd gladly pay for. As Diaz says "don't be scared homie"
Brett Okamoto (1:22 PM)
I honestly don't think he's scared, I think a big part of it is he's thinking, I just fought this dude in December. That's what I thought when Lyoto earned the shot.
Any news on Rashad Evans? Has he made a decision about 185 or is he waiting to see what Anderson Silva does next?
Brett Okamoto (1:22 PM)
Saw him in Denver and he played it coy, wouldn't really commit to anything. Whenever he breaks it, I'm assuming he'll do it on the UFC Tonight show he serves as an analyst for. I expect him to stay at 205 though.
Do you think now that Zuffa has a true WMMA superstar personality in Ronda Rousey that they will be more likely to go all in on WMMA in the future (particularly when Strikeforce is ultimately absorbed)? I wonder if Invicta will be a strong enough property by then to be a Zuffa target for purchase...
Brett Okamoto (1:24 PM)
We'll see man. I love Rousey, think she's awesome for the sport, but gotta admit I was surprised in a big way by the numbers she produced on Showtime last weekend. They averaged nearly the same that the Carano/Cyborg fight did in 2009. That speaks to the star power of Rousey, because frankly it didn't really have anything to do with Kaufman. We'll have to see what effect this has on women in the sport. Does it encourage more females to get in and does the division grow? As of right now, today, if SF closed shop, I still think the UFC would pass just because there aren't enough competitors there.
What is the story behind Torres being cut again by the UFC? Don't think Dana was a big fan with some of the things he talked about not getting paid back in WEC and then the whole rape thing.
Brett Okamoto (1:26 PM)
Yeah, no one in Zuffa was a big fan of some things Miguel said but I was personally surprised by the news he'd been cut (which he announced on his personal website). I don't know what's going on with Miguel, clearly he wants to continue fighting but even his last performance against Michael McDonald was strange. Seemingly a major opportunity for him and he looked terrible.
Gerry (San Francisco, CA)
Do you see Palhares fighting Shields or Okami next? Or better yet, how about a rematch between Shields and Okami from ROTR?
Brett Okamoto (1:28 PM)
I've been shocked by the amount of people in this chat and on Twitter who have interest in a Shields/Okami fight. Not because I don't think it's a good matchup, but just because it features two styles who generally aren't considered appealing to watch ... at all. Must be a hardcore fan type group in this chat, because no way casual fans are wanting this matchup. I think it's an interesting fight and logistically it makes sense, in terms of timing and rankings.
Edgar's finally moving to FW. does he get a title shot vs. Aldo straight out of the gate?
Brett Okamoto (1:29 PM)
After he lost to Ben in Denver, Dana said he'd have one fight before Aldo. Not a huge deal, but I would have gone straight to the Aldo fight myself. No appetizer please, straight to the steak.
Is Jones getting too arrogant thinking he can pick his fights? He says he won't let Chael talk his way into a fight and doesn't want to fight Lyota because of the risk/reward and money. Is he big enough to be calling these shots? I think if Uncle Dana tells him he's fighting a certain guy, he better be ready to fight him.
Brett Okamoto (1:30 PM)
Uncle Dana still has last word, but Jones has learned you can posture through the media and typically what do we know about this sport, ask for something in a very public way and it heavily increases your chance of getting it. I think he's within his right to comment on potential matchups. It's not like he's saying, absolutely not, 100 percent I will not fight these guys.
Does GSP win and if so, does he finish Condit?
Brett Okamoto (1:30 PM)
I think GSP wins and I think he does it by decision.
Should UFC or Invicta try to recruit more of the Olympians from Taekwondo, Judo and Wrestling actively? If they want to build the women's division why not go after top rated athletes with a built in fanbase.
Brett Okamoto (1:32 PM)
Yeah, this is another question that comes up pretty frequently. I think it's great if they can recruit those girls and it makes sense for those athletes if they want to compete more regularly and make some money, but at the end of the day I don't think it's make or break whether they sign these girls to the sport or not. If women's MMA gets more in the mainstream, more females see it, are interested in it and decided to try it. That will grow the sport, I think, more than trying to rely completely on Olympic talent.
With the Kampmann vs Hendricks fight being a 3 rd and not 5 rd fight, I lean towards Hendricks - where I would lean Hendricks if it were 5 rds. Agree w/ that assessment?
Brett Okamoto (1:33 PM)
Think you meant you'd lean Kampmann in a 5-rounder? And yeah, I agree.
Captain Howdy (Georgetown)
Brett, clear something up for me. When Silva says he doesn't want to fight Weidman or Jones says he doesn't want to fight Lyoto again, how much is their next opponent up to them? Does the UFC give up on that matchup, or does it just mean they have to pony up more cash to the champion to take on the fight? Should established, bankable fighters have complete say in who they fight? Doesn't that kind of defeat the sporting aspect of it all? Lining up a bunch of chumps for the champs to beat down isn't all that exciting. /end rant
Brett Okamoto (1:36 PM)
The UFC wants to put on fights that fans will pay for. Bottom line. If a champ comes out and says I'm not interested in that fight, I don't want that fight, they'll listen but ultimately they do what makes sense for them. With Jon coming out and saying Lyoto did bad PPV numbers and no one wants to see that fight, already the promotion for that matchup is off to a terrible start. In the case of Anderson, he's saying give me GSP and they're thinking, umm yeah we'd love to. So, it's all about the situation. If a champ says no I don't want this guy just because whatever, it won't hold weight. So, there's not really any "ducking" in MMA here ... I know some think that's the case with Anderson and Wediman situation, but I don't see it that way. Weidman is deserving of the shot, but not so deserving that we can't at least have a discussion about other opponents for Anderson.
Will we ever see GSP finish a fight?? His last 5 fights have gone to a decision.
Brett Okamoto (1:37 PM)
What would the odds be on GSP finishing a fight in 2013? There's a good line for the chat to take on.
So what's up next for Weidman if he can't get the Silva fight? Would they match him up against a bigeer name that might be on the downside of his career(Griffin, Franklin) to get him some more name recognition?
Brett Okamoto (1:38 PM)
No, I think we'd see him against the winner of a Bisping/Stann or a Belfort/Belcher.
Let's say Edgar dominates FW and wins the title. Any chance he'd try to hold two belts at once?
Brett Okamoto (1:38 PM)
Probably. That's a long ways off though.
With Jones and Silva getting backlash for trying to pick their future opponents, I think people forget that these guys are Prize Fighters, and aren't they also independent contractors in reality? Being that, I have no problem and think guys like Jones and Silva should use their leverage they've earned to benefit their earning potential to the highest degree.
Brett Okamoto (1:39 PM)
I agree. As long as they're not blatantly turning down fights against guys who have earned the right to fight them, I'm fine with it.
Brett, can you clear up my Jones does not want Machida, I heard because the ratings were low last time. Does Jones get a percentage of the profits if more people watch, just trying to understand why ratings mean so much to him?
Brett Okamoto (1:40 PM)
The list of UFC fighters that make additional profit off PPVs is private, but certainly Jones being the star he is and the fact he's a champion (wouldn't be surprised if champions are automatically included) is on that list. So yeah, the better a PPV does the more money he makes.
Ok. Hypothetical game. Let's say GSP and Silva do end up fighting each other in a superfight, which would cause a back up in each of their respective divisions? After their fight takes place, who do you see being the number one contenders?
Brett Okamoto (1:42 PM)
If the fight happened in let's say ... February or March ... you'd have Weidman fight Bisping (if he won) or the winner of Belfort/Belcher (if Bisping lost). At 170, you'd have the winner of Hendricks/Kampmann, possibly fight ... hmm, Rory being GSP's teammate screws things up, but you could have Rory fight Ellenberger (if he wins next week) then have the two winners of those fights in a No. 1 contender.
Brett Okamoto (1:42 PM)
That's also assuming Rory beats B.J. of course.
Captain Howdy (Georgetown)
Is Jung Chan-Sung already lined up for the winner of the Aldo-Koch fight, or is that speculation?
Brett Okamoto (1:43 PM)
I have not heard that officially, no.
What is on the horizon for the flyweights? Assuming Joey B. gets the belt, who do you see the UFC setting up from there?
Brett Okamoto (1:46 PM)
Yeah, they need to build that division. And I mean that in terms of adding talent but also promoting them. Nobody knows any of these guys yet ... there is a flyweight fight on the main card next week, so that's good. Need more of that. Top options to vie for the belt after this first title fight, John Dodson is up there, Louis Gaudinot, they just signed Phil Harris who will come in with some hype, Ian McCall is always going to be an option .. he's talented and marketable. Still, it's a short pool right now to draw from, especially because none of those names resonate with casual fans yet.
Bruce (Parts Unknown)
Will Uncle Creepy's arrest put him in Jeopardy with the UFC brass?
Brett Okamoto (1:47 PM)
I doubt it. Sounds like it wasn't that terrible of a situation, more of his past catching up to him making matters seem worse than they were.
Brett Okamoto (1:50 PM)
Alright, I hate to do this guys because I've got a lot of questions left in the queue, but I need to get on my way to a gym here in Vegas to interview Jay Heiron. I'll make it up next week with a longer chat, which I should get extra points for because I'm also getting married next week so things will be extra crazy. Hit me on Twitter with any questions I didn't get to, @bokamotoESPN and I'll retweet and respond. Sorry again for cutting it short, but we'll blow out UFC 151 fight week in seven days. Enjoy the weekend!