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)
Little depressed today about the Rockies blowing a 4-run lead in San Fran last night. It's early but I forgive me for seeing it as a preview to what we're in for all season. Tough division this year. On a better note, wow ... Uriah Hall. Fun to watch. I get this very strong impression that everyone in the house was afraid of him which really helped in the cage because they just froze, expecting to get hit. Especially that semifinal fight. I'm all for giving him a highly-ranked guy out of the gate. We'll see what happens this weekend. Let's get to your questions, don't be shy.
Got a (long distance) pick for how long Sonnen / Jones will take : I'm going for Jones by R2 submisison.....on that what are they expecting for PPV numbers? (low / high)
Brett Okamoto (1:02 PM)
Round 2 seems about right ... submission, huh? I guess I could see Jones winning pretty much however he wants. One part of this fight I'm kind of interested in is seeing how Chael looks at 205 pounds. Any time a guy moves up or down a weight class I'm interested, but that's about it. Can't see this being competitive at all.
Yo Brett! What is up with your boy Michael Johnson. Was all down hill after that head kick.
Brett Okamoto (1:04 PM)
I don't know, man. I thought I was really on to something with MJ too. That natural athleticism he's got it hard to equal and in the times I've talked to him, he had tons of confidence. I don't want to pile on the Blackzilian camp, but even with all the top-level coaches they're signing and the facilities they've got, they're slumping.
Hey Brett, To me Matt Mitrione's comments went over the line although I do think it's probably unacceptable for male athletes who've changed sex to be fighting females although if both parties sign the contract and agree to it, then (&**(
Brett Okamoto (1:07 PM)
Yeah, I know there's the whole hormonal supplement thing which is supposed to level the playing field but I still think someone like Fallon Fox has an unfair advantage in this circumstance. I think Matt Mitrione is entitled to his opinion just like you and I are ... the way he chose to express it is what got him in trouble. The UFC probably felt obligated to suspend him and do the "right" thing, I don't see it ruining his career or anything.
So much for Dana's brilliant plan to match Uriah and Samman up in the finale...
Brett Okamoto (1:09 PM)
Yeah, that was probably best case scenario in terms of ratings. Never before have I received so many comments from friends and people on Twitter regarding a TUF fighter they DIDN'T like. I felt like half the people I talk to at some point this season was like, "I really don't like that Samman guy." Hey, it works for him. Better to have people hate you than not care about you in this business.
Who do you favor between Tate and Zingano? And when do you think Invicta will get their TV deal... their PPV was incredible last week.
Brett Okamoto (1:12 PM)
I like Tate, but I gotta say, Zingano is really fun to watch. I went back and watched as many of her fights I could find (which, was actually pretty much all of them) and she's a fighter, man. Her Muay Thai is good, she's a player on the ground. I think Tate neutralizes her though. Too much wrestling and she's bigger. In terms of Invicta, it's tough to know exactly what kind of numbers they are pulling with an Internet stream ... but it's certainly a possibility they sign a TV deal in the foreseeable future.
Going the my first live fight this weekend. Want to bet as many of them as I can. Who you like?
Brett Okamoto (1:12 PM)
How many odds are out for this weekend? Let me pull them up real quick ...
Brett Okamoto (1:14 PM)
Ok, there's a few. Not seeing much on the TUF contestants but I think you'll be able to find those as it gets closer. From what's available now ... I like Faber even though it's -450 (put it on a parlay), I like Tate at -110, I'd stay away from Browne at -320 (he should win but they're heavyweights, layoff), I might take a shot on Cole Miller at +150.
Alex peer (des Moines IA) [via mobile]
I'm not giving Sonnen much of a shot against Jones but there is that x-factor in Sonnens forward pressure to many people just watch Jones I don't see Sonnen doing that
Brett Okamoto (1:15 PM)
Yeah, Sonnen moves forward about as much as any fighter in the UFC. But when he gets on the inside, is he going to be able to bodylock Jones and put him down, then keep him there? I agree with the point you're making and pressure is important fighting Jones because it gets you inside his reach, but then you have to deal with that Greco Roman wrestling his brings to the table.
Brett if Uriah Hall walks through Gastelum, who do you see as his first UFC fight? Guy hasnt even been put in a dangerous position on TUF. I'd assume a striker to keep his momentum going. Does belcher bisping winner sound too big a jump? Or even someone like Brian Stann?
Brett Okamoto (1:18 PM)
Brian Stann is a good shot, yeah. If we stick with the, "give him a striker" idea, do we get crazy and throw Wanderlei at him? Or is that just mean (to Wanderlei)? Personally, I'm most interested in seeing him fight a guy like Jacare Souza, but realistically I agree with you they'll give him a "fun" fight. As good as he's been, I could still see them taking it slow on him as well, have him fight another prospect like a Cezar Ferreira type.
Carlos (Los Angeles)
I know the TUF 17 Finale this weekend is supposed to be mostly about this season's fighters, but we couldn't get Cole Miller vs. Bart Palaszewski on either of the televised parts of the card? There is a solid zero percent chance that fight isn't exciting; can't say the same for some of the ones being shown instead...
Brett Okamoto (1:20 PM)
I agree completely. This season of TUF had solid talent top to bottom, but I'd rather watch the Facebook portion of this fight than the Fuel card.
Hi Brett, are we getting to a stage where (barring an event at Tokyo Dome, Wembley Stadium, Melbourne Docklands) all PPV's are likely to be in North America and overseas events will be FX or Fuel events?
Brett Okamoto (1:22 PM)
You have to throw South America in there as well, because of Brazil, but yes I think we're getting to that point. It's pretty clear lately that Fuel cards are international cards. I think countries with best chances at hosting PPV would be Japan and Australia.
David (Fullerton,CA) [via mobile]
How do you see the TUF finale going? Uriah should be a lock to win it but I wouldn't be surprised if Kevin came thru with the upset. He's got ton of heart.
Brett Okamoto (1:23 PM)
He does and I think it's probably an advantage to him that he's gotten away from Uriah, away from the idea of Uriah, away from watching Uriah throw awesome combinations at heavy bags during practice, etc. Might have been the way they edited it, but it just looked like Uriah had grown in that TUF house to this unbeatable character. But, I still think Kevin doesn't have much of a shot. Uriah's feints, speed, versatility ... too much.
Brett, I am not a social media guy (so not sure what else people are saying) but after reading comments on the different artcles written about Mitrione do you see any effect on the UFC's PPV numbers? It seems to me that there is tons of support for Mitrione and people saying they will not purchase PPV's until he is reinstated.
Brett Okamoto (1:25 PM)
Honestly, not much of a social media guy myself but sort of have to embrace it with this job. I have not gotten the sense at all that fans would boycott a PPV in support of Mitrione. And honestly, to anyone who does that feel that way, I don't really see Mitrione's career taking a huge hit from this. He's suspended, not cut. The UFC didn't want to ignore his statements. They were out of line. So they issue a statement of their own, suspend him. We don't even know how long the suspension will be.
Eric (New Orleans) [via mobile]
If Spider beats Weidman at UFC 162.. Who do you think is next in line at MW if Spider doesnt fight GSP or Jon Jones??
Brett Okamoto (1:27 PM)
Would probably have to be winner of Belfort/Rockhold. Only other scenario I could see is maybe if Bisping were to knock out Belcher and Belfort lost, they could jump Bisping into the spot despite his recent loss. Or of course, there's always Nick Diaz. (Jokes.)
Are you off the M. Johnson bandwagon yet?
Brett Okamoto (1:28 PM)
I'm the only one left to drive this thing. I'm gonna hang on for one more fight, but it's lonely over here.
Guy (Aurora, Il)
I am excited for UFC on Fox 7, but most of the fights have CLEAR favorites. I can't see Henderson, Cormier, Diaz, or Mendes losing. Do you think the UFC uses these free events to promote certain fighters by giving them easy fights?
Brett Okamoto (1:31 PM)
No, I think they use it to promote champions who haven't proven to be reliable PPV sellers yet. Ben Henderson is real fun to watch, but he's never sold many PPVs. Hey, it works out well for fans who get to see him for free. Henderson/Melendez, although I agree with you I think Henderson wins, is on my potential Fight of the Year list. Both guys are best moving forward, they're not the BEST defensive fighters ever, they both consider themselves champions, Meldendez will be extremely motivated and he's familiar with Ben because Nate Diaz just fought him, they both can take a shot and they both can go five rounds ... it's going to be a great fight.
Given the time Dominic Cruz has been out, what was the logic in keeping the Bantamweight title with him? When he comes back, he's going to run into a red hot Barao whilst if they took it off him, he could at least have a warm up (assuming against someone other than Faber).
Brett Okamoto (1:33 PM)
I think it's a mix of things. First, they just simply feel bad for the guy. Cruz is such a hard worker and it's killing him to be on the sidelines, maybe they simply don't want to kick the guy while he's down. He's also a company man. He's done right by them, he serves as an analyst ... not saying he'll get all these opportunities other fighters won't, but the UFC in general likes him and wants to support him. And I don't think they want him to have a warmup fight when he gets back. That fight will have a lot of intrigue immediately, no need to have him fight a non-Top 10 guy. This isn't boxing, that doesn't happen very often. That unification bout will have lots of hype around it by the time it happens.
Yo moto, what'd you think of McGregor? Dude looked like Anderson Silva of the featherweight division. Striking was clean, fluid, dynamic. Gonna be a fun guy to watch
Brett Okamoto (1:35 PM)
No doubt about it. I like his style.
Okay I'll get this one out of the way .. Cruz quite likely won't even be ready to book a fight until the end of 2014 .. Dana had no issue stripping Mir with less time spent not defending it but allows Cruz an inactive pass and keeps the belt until he's able to defend. Weak decision.If you are Renan Barao .. do you feel slapped in the face? And why is Dana refusing to move the belt on? I would. Interim belts mean ZERO.
Brett Okamoto (1:37 PM)
This seems to be how most people feel. I agree, it's been 18 months since he defended the belt and he doesn't have anything scheduled. He can't even move laterally right now on the knee. I think Barao deserves to be the champ and maybe he does feel slapped in the face, but it goes back a little to what I said, this is all just building that unification bout up. Maybe that's the UFC's thinking on this. Even if you crown Barao the official champ, he's still relatively unknown amongst the casual fan, but if you build up a storyline, champ vs. champ, brings interest to the division.
Bellator had Hall for one fight. He got a TKO and never fought there again. Why'd they let him go? Also, Weidman knocked out Uriah in 2010 so he's not unbeatable.
Brett Okamoto (1:39 PM)
Not sure what happened with his Bellator contract. He was fighting consistently for another promotion, so maybe they had rights to him? And no, definitely not unbeatable. Higher caliber opponents won't be as easy to hit as the guys in the house and we'll see what his ground game is like when he faces a Munoz, Jacare kind of guy.
Trey Anastasio (Burlington, VT)
Any info on the fight in Sept. 2010 when Wiedman TKO'd Uriah Hall in the first? I'm very curious as to how that happened
Brett Okamoto (1:40 PM)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O2I52uwtaMcOn the ground.
Did Moussasi hurt, help, or keep his stock steady after Saturday?
Brett Okamoto (1:41 PM)
Kept it steady. He hasn't even had his UFC debut in my mind. That was a train wreck over there. Mousasi was injured, just wanted to get in and get out with little damage. Latifi was ... whatever that was. No movement whatsoever on Mousasi's stock after that fight.
Haven't watched TUF this year. Size wise, how do Jon Jones and Sonnen compare?Will Sonnen have a strength advantage?
Brett Okamoto (1:42 PM)
No way. Jones is pretty big for light heavyweight. Sonnen will be more filled out than he was at middleweight but his frame is not nearly the size as Jones.
Nate (Woburn, MA)
I know we are 4 months out, but any more news on UFC on Fox Sports 1. I know Joe Lauzon, McGregor, and Pickett all want on the show. Any chance TUF alum Jimmy Quinlan (local boy) gets on the show too? Also, Kenny is retired, but still listed as a fighter on UFC.com. No way that he fights in Boston and then officially retires, is there?
Brett Okamoto (1:43 PM)
Good chance for all those guys you mentioned. That's always the case with UFC, does its best to get local talent on. I haven't talked to Florian in awhile, but I'd be real doubtful he could swing that. Seems very content in his analyst role. He's already fought in Boston once, it'd be different if he never had before. When he retired I asked him if there was a chance he'd ever come out of it and he was honest and didn't throw it out completely, but I think he's done.
My man Ubaldo got shelled on Monday if that makes you feel any better.
Brett Okamoto (1:44 PM)
Kind of, but not really. Alex White plays for the Astros and Drew Pomeranz looks like a decent AAA ball player at best.
I wonder who Alex G is going to fight next?
Brett Okamoto (1:47 PM)
Lyoto Machida would make a lot of sense. I still think Gustafsson is a work in progress who would benefit from more experience, but he's earned the right to fight Machida and if he thinks he's ready, then do it. If it were completely up to me, tell James Te Huna we love you but we're sorry, we're going to throw Gustafsson in against Glover Teixeira. That fight makes A TON of sense.
tanner apopka fl [via mobile]
why is everybody giving wiedman a good shot to dethrone the spider he has 9 fights in his career
Brett Okamoto (1:48 PM)
Maybe Silva isn't up for the fight. Seemed like he really wasn't interested in this one, wanted a bigger name. Weidman has good takedowns AND the jiu-jitsu game to go with it. Sometimes when these guys are special, it doesn't matter how many fights they've had, but even though I think Weidman is great, he's going against the best fighter in the world. I like Silva but I understand the love for Weidman.
timothy davis (hollywood)
as a huge - but realistic - frank mir fan, where do you put his chances against cormier? i don't mean to insult mir, but he seems to have evolved into the ultimate gatekeeper - smashing dudes like kongo/nelson, getting smashed by jds/carwin. i think this fight says a lot about where cormier is, no?
Brett Okamoto (1:50 PM)
I will tell you that I think the move to Jackson's really helps Mir. Sometimes when guys change camp, you're like, okay, maybe it helps but probably not substantially. Mir needed to get out of Las Vegas for a bit. He was training with guys he could own at 50%. You're just not going to be at your best in that situation. You need to be pushed. I'm excited to see what it does for him. Stylistically, it's not a great fight for Mir. He loads up on his punches too much, hand speed isn't there, Cormier has good head movement so you need combinations against him. Mir is real tricky on the ground but Cormier knows that, so he'll be careful. I like Cormier to get the win but this is kind of a make or break situation for Mir, I expect him to make it hard on DC.
Brett Okamoto (1:51 PM)
Oh quick note about the Kenny Florian question. He's still listed as a fighter on UFC.com ... but so is Chuck Liddell. So, take that for what it's worth.
What do you think of Johnny Bedford? Can he make a run in the division?
Brett Okamoto (1:53 PM)
Big for the division. Was getting submitted left and right early in his career, but looks like he's really addressed it. Technical striker, not a guy who will really wow you but he uses his size. I like him. He could beat Erik Perez.
Bob (the Counter)
There is lots of opportunity to make money on sports that are less popular to bet on. UConn women -14 was easy money. Any good plays for the card this weekend? Red Ink to be posted soon?
Brett Okamoto (1:54 PM)
I think it posted today. Yep, only two fights this week. The Cat Fight, Tate and Zingano, close odds, good fight to bet on. http://espn.go.com/extra/mma/preview/_/event/400442350/match/174609
Matt (Nashville )
Hey Brett, Over/Under 4 TUF 17 fighters fighting again in the UFC after the finale?
Brett Okamoto (1:55 PM)
Tough call, because UFC is still in process of trimming roster. Dana sometimes doesn't care about that though, if he likes a guy and wants him under contract he tells his staff to get it done. I'd say four is a great line, Matt. You gotta throw a .5 in there to force the action one way or another. I guess I'd take over and expect a push.
What should we expect from Travis Browne vs. Gonzaga? I like Browne but worried about his hamstring still
Brett Okamoto (1:56 PM)
Pretty much exactly that. If he's good to go, he beats Gonzaga. Always that randomness when you look at heavyweight fights, but Browne is a real talent. Gonzaga is a savvy vet who will beat the guys who aren't ready for him, but don't think he can hang anymore with the best. I'd say Browne probably finishes him.
timothy davis (hollywood)
seriously, why doesn't the ufc have contractually-mandated alternates for main events? pay the alternate 75% of his rate if he doesn't have to fight, and the entirety if he does. this way you don't have last-minute scrambles to save cards. i can't get josh, anik or you to comment on this yet. is it a terrible idea for a reason i can't think of?
Brett Okamoto (1:58 PM)
You're running a business ... you're going to pay a guy 75% percent of his salary to not fight? And you're going to do this 2, 3, 4 times a month? Plus, if you have all these guys in the gym there will be a relative increase in injury anyway. I get your thought process, but ultimately doesn't make sense.
Wouldn't it be cool if there was some dude from the backwoods of Russia or Mongolia or Oregon that came out of nowhere and won the UFC HW title?!
Brett Okamoto (1:59 PM)
I'd love it. Get ESPN to send me to the woodsy camp in Mongolia he originated from and used to use the dead carcass of animals as a heavy bag? That'd be a journalist's dream.
Josh San Marcos Tx [via mobile]
Haven't heard much about Shane Carwin will he fight again or retire?
Brett Okamoto (2:01 PM)
Carwin is pretty secluded when he's out of action. I have heard nothing about him being back in the gym in Colorado. The last time I talked to his camp he was still waiting for medical clearance to train and that was awhile ago.
Gil Rodriguez (San Antonio TX )
Read Jamie Varner is interested in a bout with Diego Sanchez, while Sanchez on the other hand wants Nate Diaz in the summer, Which fight would you say is a better match up for Sanchez? Both look to be potential FOTN in my opinion.
Brett Okamoto (2:02 PM)
More winnable matchup is Varner, for sure, although I think both of them beat Diego. Any Diego fight is a potential FoTN really. I wrote a column after his last fight outlining what I would like to see next for him, you can take a look here. http://espn.go.com/blog/mma/post/_/id/16899/what-the-future-holds-for-diego-sanchez
Any chance Dana would ever do a card where winners stay and losers are cut? Or is that too WWE?
Brett Okamoto (2:03 PM)
Think that's too WWE.
My guess is Mitrione's suspension ends the day before his next fight. Lots of room for irrelevant suspensions in combat sports.
Brett Okamoto (2:03 PM)
See, that's kind of how I feel, too.
I think the big difference between Mir losing his title to injury and Cruz not is that Mir was injured riding a motorcycle (personal and not all that smart, a la Ron Gant) while Cruz was injured training for a fight (professional, and more and more expected nowadays).
Brett Okamoto (2:05 PM)
That maybe has something to do with it. It came at a different time, too. The UFC couldn't really afford to shelf its heavyweight title like it can today, with its depth. Now, you shelf the 135-pound title, yes it's big news, but there's still plenty going on.
Kevin (Mile High)
Am I crazy to think that Josh Thompson will beat Nate? He went toe to toe with Melendez all those fights.
Brett Okamoto (2:06 PM)
Okay, so I've failed on my Michael Johnson pick. Josh Thomson is my next bandwagon. He's highly, highly underrated. I actually picked him to win that last fight against Gilbert Melendez and it was real close ... different set of judges and maybe he's the SF champ. That said, Melendez is and was a good matchup for Thomson. I don't think Diaz particularly is. I'm not sure if he wins this fight in San Jose, but even if he doesn't, I expect him to be successful in the UFC.
Which former champion (in any division) has the best chance to regain his belt?
Brett Okamoto (2:08 PM)
I'd say JDS is tops. Not a deep division so he can rise to the top quickly and it's just hard to remain heavyweight champ for fight after fight after fight. No one has done it. After that ... Machida and maaaayyyybe Rashad if Jones were to leave the division?
Obligatory Korean Zombie question... Any news?
Brett Okamoto (2:09 PM)
He's back! Ricardo Lamas at UFC 162 in Las Vegas.
Gil Rodriguez (San Antonio TX)
With some of the struggles The Blackzillians have had over the past few months, How do you see the acquisitions of Olympic gold medalist wrestler Kenny Monday, boxing coach Joel Diaz, and professional boxer Guillermo Rigondeaux impacting the team?
Brett Okamoto (2:10 PM)
On paper it all looks fantastic. Melvin Guillard may have said it best to me last week, "I would bet on the Blackzilians every single fight with all the talent they have there and if I had, I'd be broke." Doesn't make a lot of sense. Is the work ethic there? Is South Beach too close? I don't know, I'm just throwing stuff out there.
Hey Brett - what do you think about the Aldo/Pettis matchup? Do you think Pettis can dethrone the champ?
Brett Okamoto (2:12 PM)
I'd say he's definitely got a shot. There's only one bad thing I can say about Aldo and that's he fades in the 4th and 5th. Not terribly, but we've seen it. Probably the weight cut has to do with that. We'll see how Pettis reacts to the cut and if he's the same way, or if he can turn it up on Aldo in the championship rounds. I think to beat Aldo at 145 pounds you probably do have to stand with him, because his takedown defense at that weight is basically perfect.
Holy crap, that 162 card is STACKED. I have to get out of my cave once in a while and stay current...
Brett Okamoto (2:13 PM)
Get some sun Stu.
How underrated is the jab in MMA...the small sized gloves, a couple of solid effective jabs can cause A LOT of damage. Too many fighters simply flick it out there or use it to measure for the right cross. Plant your feet and shoot the jab!
Brett Okamoto (2:14 PM)
Yes, Sal! Well said. Sometimes, it only takes a few guys to do something and make it popular. Maybe the jab sees its day in the spotlight with GSP throwing it as much as he does. If I decided to get in to MMA full time tomorrow, first things I'd do is get in serious, serious shape, learn the jab and probably defensive wrestling.
Does the gun incident put the Mayweather fight in jeopardy?
Brett Okamoto (2:16 PM)
Nah. If a Nevada judge can postpone Mayweather's jail time due to assault for a boxing match, surely the good people of NY can work Guerrero's gun charges around the fight.
Brett Okamoto (2:17 PM)
We'll go ahead and wrap it there. Good stuff as always guys. Enjoy the fights this week, hit me on Twitter @bokamotoESPN. I will be at the TUF Finale this weekend and the Henderson/Melendez fight in San Jose on the 20th so follow me for updates on those. See ya next week.