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 (1:00 PM)
Expecting only the most die-hard chatters today. I think we can all agree, not as much MMA to discuss as usual this week. Judging by the low number of questions I have in the queue, you guys agree. We'll hit the topics that are out there and probably wrap this thing a bit early, so don't be shy. Get your questions in now.
Brett, You might as well skip the chat today, there's nothing to talk about until next week. That said, I can't wait for Hendricks to beat GSP, then Anderson KO GSP then Hendricks beat him again before he retires. Fitting for GSP who obviously cheats every time he fights in Montreal.
Brett Okamoto (1:03 PM)
I think the whole Montreal UFC weigh-in story is pretty much the biggest story of the week, considering this slow stretch in the schedule. If you guys want to get into it more, we can. Obviously, I don't think even if GSP weighed 170.9 (which, we don't know) it aided him in the fight. I don't think anybody does. That said, it is completely unacceptable if he was given any advantage in terms of not cutting weight by the UFC or the Montreal commission. On your other comments, GSP won't fight Anderson if he loses to Hendricks ... so that dream scenario won't play out. You'll have to pick which of those three you want to happen most to hope for.
GSP IS THE MOST BORING PATHETIC FIGHTER TO EVER STEP FOOT IN THE UFC... please tell me when is his next fight so hendrix can break his face... i catn stand that french kid
Brett Okamoto (1:06 PM)
Hendricks mentioned he'd like the fight in September. Depends on St. Pierre's health. Basically, St. Pierre will dictate when the fight takes place, because at this point, Hendricks would take it tomorrow if you offered it to him.
Barry (High Point, NC)
Brett,How about Rumble taking it to Arlovski (in round 1 at least)? He says he wont moonlight at heavyweight anymore, not sure Im buying that. Think the UFC has him back on their radar at higher weight classes? Thanks for the chat!
Brett Okamoto (1:07 PM)
What's up, Barry? I'm with you, I don't think you can ever close the door on Anthony Johnson fighting at heavyweight because as we all know by now, he doesn't mind getting huge in between fights. That said, no, I think the UFC would encourage him to fight at 205 (at least) and I would hope Johnson would want to do that any way. If he came back to the UFC as a heavyweight, to me, that would just symbolize laziness. No reason he should be fighting in his prime as a heavyweight.
Marc Iveson (UK)
Sup Brett. Who do you see as a breakthrough star this year in the UFC? Have you seen much of Michael Page from UK? He is our Anderson Silva!
Brett Okamoto (1:09 PM)
I haven't seen much, just the highlight of the 10-second Bellator knockout. Is he really the UK's Anderson Silva? At 4-0? Looks like all his wins came impressively, but I'm going to hang back on that nickname for the time being.
Do you know what Rumble's contract look like? I'm just curious how many more fights you see him doing in WSOF until the UFC tries to bring him back.
Brett Okamoto (1:11 PM)
I was told awhile back he was on a fight-by-fight basis, meaning he could leave whenever he wants. I'm not sure if that's changed since then ... I was told that before his first fight with them. I know he's paid fairly well and he's happy competing at a heavier weight, so although the goal is to get back in the UFC, I don't get the sense at all that he or is his management are desperate to rush back.
What are your thoughts on Fitch getting an immediate title shot in the WSOF? I hink I agree with Burkman and Gerald Harris.
Brett Okamoto (1:13 PM)
I'm not surprised. If you're the WSOF, why risk Fitch possibly losing a fight? You want him as your champion. Let's call it like it is. You want him to be at the top, holding your belt. I agree it's awkward to have a guy come into your organization, who was not a champ at his previous organization, and fight immediately for a belt but it's not like the WSOF has this stacked 170-pound division with a ton of viable contenders.
Brett, kind of a different question. How does the UFC decide when to bring a guy from the small promotions in? My friend (Chris Birchler) was named the #5 HW prospect, and has a 4-0 pro record. When does he get a look?
Brett Okamoto (1:15 PM)
You'd have to ask the matchmakers, Joe Silva and Sean Shelby. They've both been doing this for a long time. I don't think there's one specific thing they are looking for, necessarily. Good record is big, athleticism, potential. The stuff you'd expect them to look for. Holding a belt somewhere is probably nice but not huge.
so uhhhh...who you pickin in the Silva/Weidman fight? What round and method too?
Brett Okamoto (1:17 PM)
Hmmm, it's early to predict. I like to let these matchups marinate for a bit before predicting, but early lean is Silva is too much. It's easy to say Weidman will be more effective on the ground than Sonnen was because his ground strikes are a bit better, his submissions are WAY better, but there is no guarantee he'll get him down. Sonnen has a ridiculously aggressive style in his takedowns that Weidman hasn't really showed. And Sonnen took Silva down in the second fight in the first round, but couldn't do it again in the second. My early guess is Silva knocks Weidman out in the second or third.
Very surprised you posted Frank (Lebanon) comment without arguing the fact that "GSP is the most pathetic" fighter comment. Also, the xenophobia is unappreciated.
Brett Okamoto (1:19 PM)
Well Wilkie, come on, I think you know without me having to say it. No, personally, I don't think Georges St. Pierre, the eight-time defending UFC welterweight champion and No. 2 pound-for-pound fighter in the world on my ESPN rankings is "pathetic."
Marc Iveson (UK)
Love these chats as its somewhere to bounce ideas and opinions around. How do you get to become an MMA journalist?
Brett Okamoto (1:20 PM)
For me, I just wanted to be a sports journalist. I love just about every sport. I ended up at a Las Vegas newspaper, which of course, led to me covering the UFC and boxing.
Is Maynard one win away from a title shot?
Brett Okamoto (1:22 PM)
I'm not sure. Rankings-wise it would appear so. I think everybody still counts that guy in their top three or four in the division. But he's been out for a long time and that fight against Clay Guida was just awkward ... one of those you actually try to forget about, so he doesn't have a lot of momentum going but yeah, Maynard is the kind of they where one impressive win will get people talking about him again. However, I will add I don't think T.J. Grant is the type of opponent, even though he's very talented, that catapults a guy to a title shot.
Ryan Gonzo (Columbus, OH)
Who do you see Conduit fighting next? I not sure he should get rising star McDonald coming off of back to back loses. Even if they were very close.
Brett Okamoto (1:24 PM)
I would agree, but if Rory still really wants that fight then why not, ya know? If you're the UFC, you almost want to give him a mid-tier guy just so you don't run a high risk of him losing three in a row. That might be the route they go. He's lost two. They were good fights. Nothing to be ashamed of. Now drop him to the middle of the pack and let him get his confidence back up. Taking on Rory, (in Canada probably) on a two-fight losing streak is a situation I wouldn't want.
What are some of your favorite sportsbooks in Vegas?
Brett Okamoto (1:25 PM)
The LVH, previously the Hilton, is probably the best. I like the one at Green Valley Ranch, it's off the strip in Henderson. The Palms just redid theirs, nice.
Jose R (Orlando, FL)
Marvel and GSP's people have confirmed he will star in the Captain America sequel ( a french supe human villain with martial arts background ), do you see him taking the rest of the year off? GSP only fights twice a year and with his last 2 fights being less than 6 months apart.
Brett Okamoto (1:28 PM)
I guess it depends on how intensive the role is. I'll be honest, that's a story I haven't caught up completely on. I saw he was doing the role, but haven't seem him comment on how much work it will be. He's 31. Personally, it would surprise me if he took the rest of the year off (and obviously the UFC doesn't want that) ... but I'll have to read up on that movie role and get back to you.
Barry (High Point, NC)
Think Lyoto gets the Bones/Sonnen winner as is proclaimed, or will Gusty/Musassi winner sneak into the proverbial "mix"?
Brett Okamoto (1:29 PM)
I think Gus/Sasi winner gets in the mix, especially if it's a highlight finish. You guys know how this thing goes. Things change all the time. I don't look at Lyoto as the No. 1 contender in the division right now, simply because the Gus factor and the super fight factor. A lot of things can happen with Jones' next fight. Especially if it's in New York, like the UFC wants.
Ben Askren said after the GSP/Diaz fight, that he guarantees that he would beat GSP saying he could stuff the takedowns and control the ground. Is a wrestler the type of fighter that will ultimately beat GSP?
Brett Okamoto (1:31 PM)
I think there are two types of guys who can beat GSP (or at least have a good shot). A defensive wrestler with one-punch knockout power, like Hendricks. Or a bigger, more athletic, versatile striker, like Silva. I think St. Pierre would pretty much dominate Askren. His standup is waaay behind St. Pierre.
Ultimate Warrior (Parts Unknown)
Well there was the Ultimate Fighter last night - Been some great fights this season and it's actually peaked my interest in the show. Think we could see a couple of these guys stick in the UFC (Uriah Hall is def one).
Brett Okamoto (1:31 PM)
For sure. Uriah Hall is up there in terms of the most interesting guys to have come off TUF in a long time.
Would you expect GSP/Silva or Silva/Jones to go over 1 million buys?
Brett Okamoto (1:32 PM)
Say Chael Sonnen gets hurt tomorrow. Who steps in? Am I going to hell hoping Chael get abducted by aliens for a month and a half, so we don't have to watch that fight?
Brett Okamoto (1:32 PM)
You would think Lyoto is next in line in that scenario, unless he turns it down again.
Mousasi vs. Gustafsson? how do you think that one ends? Should be a good fight.
Brett Okamoto (1:34 PM)
Yeah, it's a solid main event. I think Mousasi is definitely the more polished mixed martial artist, but Gustafsson is just a tank. He took overhand rights from Shogun like they were nothing. He's a bully, man. Great chin, hits hard, good cardio. I definitely think he's the favorite but Mousasi has that experience on him and he's not past his prime like Shogun was in that fight. Gotta pick Gus but excited for that fight.
What do you think about the HBO/GBP split? Who is the loser in the divorce?
Brett Okamoto (1:35 PM)
Of course HBO. You want to be in the Floyd Mayweather business when it comes to televising his fights. Weird we'll miss the 24/7 treatment now before his fights but Showtime has been producing some decent prefight content lately.
Josh (San Marcos)
Rooting for Chael, but if he were to lose, what would be next for him
Brett Okamoto (1:37 PM)
I'm honestly not sure, it depends on how much competitive fire he has left. From an outside perspective, you would think it'd be tough to try and restart in the 205 or 185-pound division and of course we see him in all these commentator roles now, but if that fire is still there, he'll continue to compete. If he does continue to fight, I guess I see him staying at 205, but it's hard for me to envision him making any kind of consistent run there with his skill set.
Am I the only one thinking gegard mousasi is overrated?
Brett Okamoto (1:40 PM)
No, I definitely hear that from time to time. What makes you think he's overrated, though? ESPN.com doesn't have him listed in the Top 10 currently. Reason I wouldn't call him overrated is because most people have him around the No. 10 - No. 15 mark in the division, which I think is accurate. If he were popping up higher than that, I'd agree with you.
Over/Under on Rockies losses this year? If you could put together a couple of fights of fighters in their prime, what would you choose? Or, has it evlolved so much that the old guard would have a really hard time competing today?
Brett Okamoto (1:42 PM)
Sure fire way to get a question posted in this chat, bring up the Rocks. I'm optimistic because it's March, but I have no real expectations. We could, sadly, be in for a 100-loss season. The MMA game has evolved to the point the old guard would have a real hard time. I can't really think of a fight I'd be dying to see. If Silva, Jones happens past Silva's prime, that will be my answer.
I know that Hendo v. Machida is considered a #1 contender bout, but I?d actually rather see Gus jump ahead of either guy to face Jones next (assume Gus and Jones both win).
Brett Okamoto (1:43 PM)
I agree. To use a favorite line from Dana White, we'll see how this thing plays out. Depends on how Gus looks against Mousasi. Like I said earlier, even though we're calling Lyoto Machida the No. 1 contender, there is no guarantee he's fighting Jones next.
After the first 30 seconds of the Condit/Hendricks fight, did you find yourself thinking you had picked the wrong guy?
Brett Okamoto (1:43 PM)
Brett Okamoto (1:43 PM)
Rico (Wichita, KS )
What do you think will be the key for Pettis to pull the upset against Aldo at 163? I might be the only person who thinks that Pettis's tempo is going to frustrate Aldo.
Brett Okamoto (1:45 PM)
Sounds so cliche, but I think Pettis will be ahead of the game immediately because he is crazy confident. Fighting Aldo in Brazil is a fairly terrifying thing I would think, but my guess is that it won't faze Pettis at all. He always looks comfortable. The key? I'm not sure if there is a specific key for him to beat Aldo. He's just got to be better that night.
Clon (Paris, France)
Is Aldo slowing down?
Brett Okamoto (1:46 PM)
If he is, I haven't noticed. Does he have a potential gas tank problem in later rounds at 145 pounds? Possibly.
Do you think Dana White is at all hesitant to go forward with Silva/GSP because it's got the potential to be an extremely boring fight as well as potentially ruining Silva/Jones if GSP wins? (I do) My guess is that he holds out for Silva/Jones as the first super fight.
Brett Okamoto (1:48 PM)
I can see why you would think that, but I don't see it as being that simple. There are a lot of elements at play in making a superfight. If Jones/Silva happens as opposed to GSP/Silva, I don't think it's necessarily because the UFC was afraid the fight would be boring or it would ruin future plans, I think it would have more to do with GSP's willingness to move up, timing, etc.
Hey Brett... I was just wondering.. who is your personal bet for Jones vs Silva? And... what is your take on the whole rising sun fiasco on GSP's Gi?
Brett Okamoto (1:50 PM)
Hey Vince. I've always said I would take Silva over Jones, but I think that's because I've just been in awe so many times at a Silva fight. No other fighter has impressed me more in my time covering the sport, including Jones. But I think I'm picking with my gut instead of my head on that ... realistically, I would think oddsmakers would make Jones a favorite. My take on the Gi was that it was a cultural misunderstanding. GSP didn't know the significance of it in Asian culture.
Who wins the Mayweather-Ghost fight and how?
Brett Okamoto (1:51 PM)
Another Mayweather decision. Mayweather is slowing down a bit, but he's still faster than Guerrero and nobody prepares like Floyd does. I like Guerrero, but I don't think he's the guy to beat him.
Josh (Akron, OH)
Off the topic of current events, I just watched Condit vs Ellenberger for the first time on an episode of UFC Reloaded, in your opinion, did the deserving fighter win that bout? Honestly, I had Jake winning the 1st easily, 2nd Jake slightly, and the 3rd was all Condit. Thoughts? How do you see a future rematch playing out? Thanks!!
Brett Okamoto (1:53 PM)
Tough for me to answer, haven't watched that fight in awhile. Honestly, read what you just wrote and that's how I see a rematch playing out. Jake is ridiculously good early in a fight, but fades late. Condit comes in later rounds. Condit is good at moving around the cage but Ellenberger is equally terrific at cutting it off and landing his lead hook. They're both young and neither will move weight classes. I think chances are good we'll see it again.
What non-headline fight are you looking forward to you in April? I am looking forward to Mir-Cormier
Brett Okamoto (1:54 PM)
Can't go wrong with that pick. I had been looking forward to Hardy/Brown A LOT. Mein is a good replacement, but the fight still loses some of its appeal for me. Elkins/Mendes is a good fight on that card, too.
Clon (Paris, France)
Brett, which division is the tougher? Which one has the best fighters?
Brett Okamoto (1:56 PM)
I still think lightweight is the toughest division. Welterweight and middleweight have both become incredibly intriguing over the last 24 months or so.
Are you giving Wineland a good shot against Barao?
Brett Okamoto (1:57 PM)
No, and I'm high on Eddie Wineland. I think he's consistently underrated. Hand speed is great, he's durable, puts on exciting fights. What he does well doesn't match up well against Barao, though.
You know its a slow week when I'm considering asking for your thoughts on Christian Morecraft retiring...
Brett Okamoto (1:58 PM)
Joe (St. Louis)
Brett, I've re-watched the Diaz/GSP fight several times now and there was definitely something wrong with GSP. His takedowns, ever early were successful, but they didn't have close to the same explosiveness that he's had previously. A lot of the takedowns he barely even changed levels and kind of just fell against Diaz. I think GSP is a great fighter, but if he loses his explosiveness in the wrestling game, I think he's done. Do you think Hendricks has the defensive wrestling to stop GSP? I was surprised that Diaz (who has never really stopped wrestlers takedowns) was able to stuff any of GSPs efforts.
Brett Okamoto (1:59 PM)
His trainer, Firas Zahabi, revealed afterwards he was suffering from a foot injury during the fight. I'll agree with you to an extent, but conversely, I didn't see any of the issues you're talking about during the Condit fight. So, I don't have a huge concern there is something "wrong" with GSP or he's losing that explosiveness in his wrestling game. The injury may have bothered him quite a bit.
What fighters do you enjoy the most doing commentating and talking mma? I don't think there is anyone better than Frank Mir when it comes to breaking down a fight. The dude is so smart.
Brett Okamoto (2:01 PM)
Mir is good ... I agree with many others that Cruz does a great job ... Mark Munoz is maybe my favorite. Don't think he's done it much on TV but any time I've talked with him about fights in general, he gives good feedback. Sonnen is insightful, too. I'm sure I'm forgetting some others.
Are you slightly interested in the Women's Ultimate Fighter? Is it safe to assume you, Josh, and Franklin will watch two episodes and then fall off? Or will you stick around for the Rhonda factor?
Brett Okamoto (2:03 PM)
Haha, what a great question. You know us too well. Here are the over/under totals on number of episodes each of us will watch. McNeil 4.5. Gross 2.5. Okamoto 8.5.
Do you think Canelo has a better chance to beat Floyd than Ghost does?
Brett Okamoto (2:04 PM)
He's got to develop more. If that fight were happening in May, I'd pick Mayweather pretty easily but 1 or 2 years from now? Evens things out quite a bit.
Clon (Paris, France)
Why is GSP only fighting in Montreal, seems to me like an unfair advantage
Brett Okamoto (2:06 PM)
Financially, obviously it's a home run for the UFC any time they have him fight up there. But after this last title defense, Dana White did say something about having him fight in the States again. I wouldn't be surprised to see the Hendricks fight (if that happens next) in Las Vegas.
Clon (Paris, France)
Who are the Gatekeepers in the UFC right now: i see Kongo, Bisping, Nogueira, your thoughts?
Brett Okamoto (2:07 PM)
I think you're being too kind to Kongo there, Clon. I'd say he's actually below "gatekeeper" status. (A term I don't like to use, but you asked so I'll answer). Actually, if we're talking gatekeeper status at heavyweight, I think Kongo is fighting him next. Roy Nelson.
After Cormier beats Mir, what is he going to do?
Brett Okamoto (2:08 PM)
Help Cain Velasquez train for Antonio Silva (if Velasquez chooses to train for Silva. The way the first fight went, he may just relax, drink beer and watch baseball til May). Then, as long as Velasquez wins, he'll continue cutting weight for that 205 debut.
Brett Okamoto (2:11 PM)
Alright guys, let's wrap it for the day. Pretty good chat after all. Thanks as always for the questions. Not as much MMA this weekend as we're used to but I saw a few posts about the Brandon Rios, Mike Alvarado rematch for the WBO title. That should be a good one for boxing, so if you're around, I'd encourage giving it a look. Hit me on Twitter anytime @bokamotoESPN and we'll see you next week.