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 (1:02 PM)
No long-winded intro from me today. Let's just get to your questions. I will, though, plug one story. If you haven't checked out the GSP piece I wrote yesterday, give it a read. Interesting take on him and the Hendricks fight by some really smart people. Okay, let's go.
Brett, the UFC would've loved it if Chael ended up making it through that first round and winning the LHW belt. Agree?
Brett Okamoto (1:03 PM)
Good lord no. That would have been terrible. Nobody would have bought that rematch. It would have been the flukiest title win ever. You basically would have lost six months from your schedule, just waiting for Jones to get healthy enough to take it back. That would have been miserable.
Do you think that the MMA fan-base is ready to accept a gay fighter?
Brett Okamoto (1:04 PM)
Like any sport, I'm sure there would be a small group of the fans not ready for it. But yeah, Liz Carmouche is an openly gay fighter and it really felt as though NOBODY had a problem with it in the buildup to that first female title fight. I don't think it would be a huge deal at all if a man came out.
Buy or Sell: Mark Hunt deserves a title shot if he beats JDS.
Brett Okamoto (1:05 PM)
Buy, buy, buy. The guy keeps winning when we (at least I) don't think he will. He beats JDS, the clear No. 2 in the division (sorry Antonio Silva), then yeah he deserves a title shot.
matt (schenectady )
Any news on Shane Carwin or is he officially done?
Brett Okamoto (1:07 PM)
Not officially done. He's posted videos and photos of him working out in the gym. Mostly weight lifting though, which is good, but can he move at all? I haven't seen him post anything where he's doing a ton of cardiovascular, lateral stuff, ya know? Maybe he has and I missed it. Either way, it appears he's trying to make a comeback. He's not done quite yet but you have to believe any more health setbacks would likely be career-ending.
Who do you like in the Rockhold/Belfort fight?
Brett Okamoto (1:08 PM)
I like Rockhold for similar reasons I picked Bisping in that January fight. He's good on the outside. He's an underrated wrestler. He can make Belfort work a bit theoretically, burn some of his gas tank. On top of that, he's not as easy to hit as Bisping and he kicks better. Belfort has got the power advantage though and it's Luke's first UFC fight, in Brazil? I'm picking Luke but I wouldn't put any money on it, let's just say that.
Richard (California) [via mobile]
Is it, possible Anderson called Dana asking for GSP after seeing Bones do what he did to Sonnen?
Brett Okamoto (1:08 PM)
If he did, that's the most depressing thing ever. I choose to believe he was calling about Jones.
4 part question (1) did u meet cheals wife to be yet. (2) how close was cheal relly to becomeing the lighthaveweight champ (3) who's next for jones (4) is this the end for gairca in the UFC
Brett Okamoto (1:09 PM)
1. Yes, I've had dinner with them. She's very nice. 2. He was 27 seconds close. No way the commission would have let Jones continue in between rounds. 3. I think Silva is a real possibility, but most likely right now it's Gustafsson. 4. I think so.
Tim, MN [via mobile]
Am I the only one that finds the women's bouts unwatchable? There is just something inheritantly wrong with women punching and elbowing each other in the face. And the upcoming co-ed TUF becomes just another stupid reality show for the low information crowd. I guess the UFC no longer wants intelligent, conservative men who are fathers to daughters to watch their content anymore. Thanks
Brett Okamoto (1:11 PM)
You are certainly entitled to your opinion. I have no problem seeing women compete in this sport. They are tough man, they can take it. It will be interesting to see how TUF goes. I think it will be very professional, like most of the past seasons, but I get why some people are expecting a Real World spinoff.
What kind of fighters do you think will be on the Boston UFC on FOX Sports 1 card? Any chance it will be a Cain/JDS/GSP fighter
Brett Okamoto (1:13 PM)
I mean ... Dana has said they will "blow it out" and 100 percent, they want to put on a good card to launch FS1. But do I see them burning a GSP PPV? No way. Heavyweight title fight? Timing probably isn't right and if it's the JDS/Cain trilogy? That's a PPV. So, to answer your question, no I don't see any of those guys fighting on the Boston card.
I think the good part about the Jones injury is that probably puts the timing right on for Anderson Silva super fight. Give him some time to recover, and the timing looks good for a November fight between Silva-Jones (assuming Silva can beat Weidman). What are your thoughts on the chance of this happening?
Brett Okamoto (1:14 PM)
I agree. Definitely a possibility. If Silva really did call Dana after the Jones fight and it was to talk about Jones, that's a major development. A lot of times, Dana can throw these things out after an event and nothing comes of it, but if that really did happen and Silva is on-board, why not make that fight? There's really no reason not to.
Ultimate Warrior (Parts Unknown)
Love how Jones Sonnen'd Sonnen. Did you ask Dana what would have happened if JJ couldn't continue? Would he really award the belt to Sonnen?
Brett Okamoto (1:16 PM)
What choice would he have had? And I have to say, I'm shocked that people were shocked Jones fought the way he did. That's actually, and I'm going to sound like I'm bragging here but I'm not, the exact fight I pictured. Jones is way bigger than Chael. His wrestling technique pound-for-pound might not be as good, but his MMA wrestling with his size? He could have done that to Chael all night. Why play the range game and allow Sonnen to do what he likes to do, which is pressure? Put him on the defensive immediately. It was a good game plan.
I cautioned everyone last week in Chuck's chat not to sleep on Pat Healy. Everyone did anyway, including Jim Miller, literally. This guy is a more vicious version of Jon Fitch in the LW division. It would have been interesting to see what would have happened if one of the two scheduled fights with Melendez in Strikeforce would have happened. Melendez was so disinterested in his last few fights there... You never know. I'm really looking forward to his next fight.
Brett Okamoto (1:18 PM)
Good point. Melendez would have matched up better with Healy than Jim Miller did, but you're right, it wouldn't have been just an easy, show up and defend the belt kind of deal for Melendez. Miller man ... he's just small for that lightweight division. When he goes against guys who are bigger and don't have a huge technical disadvantage, he loses. I'd love to see him at 145 but like I said in the chat the other night, he's told me more than once he can't make it. Now, did I see somewhere he's thinking about 170? I hope I dreamed that. He will not win many fights at 170.
Frank (Beirut Lebanon)
they need to give a rematch to SHOGUN vs HENDO
Brett Okamoto (1:19 PM)
I agree because the first fight was so epic, but then I disagree because the first fight was so epic. No way a rematch could be better, so why taint the first at all, ya know? If it made sense sure, but right now they have other guys to fight.
Ultimate Warrior (Parts Unknown)
Why do people like Sonnen? Besides his talk, he really is one of the most boring fighters in the sport.
Brett Okamoto (1:21 PM)
I agree with that somewhat ... but I will say ... who else has ever gone after Silva and Jones like that with zero fear? He might be a controlling, wrestler, top game kind of guy ... which isn't always fireworks. But he went in against the two best fighters in the world and really tried. Not every title contender does that. You can see them freeze against Silva.
Jose R. (Orlando FL)
After watching Sonnen get destryed by BONES ( with a broken toe ) I don't know if Silva vs. Jones is really a competitive fight. I know styles make fights but Bones is just a very large monster compared to any MW. Just as Silva is huge for GSP. thoughts?
Brett Okamoto (1:22 PM)
I agree. And you hear this after the Jones/Sonnen fight, some people are saying, "Why is Jones moving up in the P4P category, why is he being favored in a fight over Silva ... for beating Chael Sonnen? That fight shouldn't matter." I agree with that, except what Jones did is show us basically how he would fight Anderson. He'd do the same thing. Pin him against the fence, use his size, take him down. We'd never really seen Jones sell out on that type of game plan. So even though it was against a middleweight, Chael Sonnen, it was the game plan that makes me think, why couldn't he do this to Silva?
So whats going to happen with Overeem? Hunt wins idc whats being said needs to get title shot as there will be no other options. Cormier vs Nelson makes a lot of sense. How does Overeem v. Travis Browne sound at this point?
Brett Okamoto (1:24 PM)
Sounds cool to me. Overeem can fight just about anybody at this point if you ask me. He's still intriguing as hell, don't get me wrong, but after the suspension and now the loss to Silva, just give him a fight. Against anybody. He doesn't even really need a top contender. He doesn't need to be thrown into the title talk again. He just needs to get his career back on the right path.
When is gusty machida going t be officially announced?Would not mind that as the boston card headliner
Brett Okamoto (1:26 PM)
That's a cool fight, for sure. I think Jones' injury plays a small part in that. Silva fight plays a small part in that. Some different things UFC wants to consider. I'm for it though. Both guys want to be active and I think, as long as the winner is healthy, would want a title fight quickly after.
If I'd told you two years ago that there is a possibility that Mark Hunt and Roy Nelson could fight in a #1 contenders fight? I would have committed myself. I am hoping Hunt beats JDS and we can see it.
Brett Okamoto (1:27 PM)
Geez, no kidding. How about this golden age of heavyweights we're in? I don't mean to condescend Nelson or Hunt AT ALL. They've done exactly what they're supposed to do over the last year or so, but ... can we agree the heavyweight division is not as stacked as some people have been saying it is?
JP (Columbus, OH)
Brett - despite everything Chael said after the fight, buy or sell: If he won due to a doctor's stoppage, he would have cut a promo after the match along the lines of, "I just whipped Jon Jones so bad that the doctor pulled me off of him!"
Brett Okamoto (1:27 PM)
Honestly, not right away. Chael is a promoter. He knows how to sell a fight. But the guy is really competitive, too. I don't think even he would have wanted to win in that way.
Frank (Beirut Lebanon)
whats next for BJ PENN?
Brett Okamoto (1:28 PM)
Wish I knew. He was dealing with an eye injury, something I guess he'd had for awhile, after his last fight. Hopefully we'll hear something from him soon. Longer he sits out, worse it is you would think.
Could you see Sonnen taking Dana White's spot one day? Maybe not the day to day business portion of the UFC, but rather a promoter/hyper of the cards?
Brett Okamoto (1:29 PM)
No. He's bound for the analyst desk. Dana says Fox might even use him for other sports down the road. I don't know anything about that, but he's good in front of the camera. He'll be in a studio somewhere.
Nate (Woburn, MA)
Please tell me that Benson Henderson is not what Dana is going to trot out for the FS1 Boston card? He seems to be the only champion that is NOT ALLOWED to work PPVs.
Brett Okamoto (1:30 PM)
I can't promise you that. They love Ben Henderson on network television so far. HOWEVER ... I highly, highly doubt they would run out Henderson/Maynard or Henderson/Grant as the main event to a card that big.
What do you think of chances of GSP-Benson henderson fight? I think it would be great, and good idea for each.
Brett Okamoto (1:31 PM)
I could definitely see it. Let's say GSP beats Johny (not at all a given) and the Silva fight loses steam because Silva is off doing something else ... GSP not ready to hang them up ... Ben wants his own "super fight" ... now GSP gets a super fight without having to move up in weight? Seems like something he'd be interested in.
have they investigated the canvas where Jon's toe snagged? If this injury turns out to be worse than it's made out to be, who does the blame fall on?
Brett Okamoto (1:32 PM)
I don't know. That canvas gets broken down real quick. They have that thing in the truck, bam, few hours after the arena is empty. Just personal opinion here, I don't think it looked like anything wrong with the canvas. I just think there was a lot of torque on that little guy and he buckled.
Any word on guys like Rich Franklin,Keith Jardine,Sean Sherk
Brett Okamoto (1:34 PM)
Oh man, I gotta be honest, I hadn't thought about Sean Sherk in awhile. He injured himself after the controversial win over Evan Dunham, right? And that was awhile ago. I don't know. Franklin will pop up somewhere. I don't think he's ready to hang them up, especially with how the last fight went for him. I want to say somebody told me Jardine is still a regular at Jackson's, but I don't think he has anything lined up.
Do you feel the Meathead suspension was long enough?
Brett Okamoto (1:36 PM)
Yes and no. Yes, because even though his comments were pretty dumb and I wouldn't say them, I don't think they warranted something crazy like a 12 month suspension or anything. No, because it just illustrated yet again how the UFC makes up its own rules on the fly. Similar to the tweets that Forrest Griffin and Miguel Torres put out on rape. Different punishments for different guys. It's not the most professional way to do things. It felt like Mitrione was "suspended" for about as long as you'd make your kid sit in the corner after he punched his sister.
If the MMA gets passed in NY and the UFC gives them 4 fights a year, what does that mean for other citites such as Philly that seem to only get a card every few years?
Brett Okamoto (1:37 PM)
Probably not good. Only so many fights per year, if you give NY four of them ... someone has to forfeit theirs.
Brett Okamoto (1:37 PM)
And I don't see them scratching any Vegas cards.
Brett, there needs to be at least one 'Legends' fight per PPV card. Something like Marc Coleman vs. Randy or Tito vs. Agree?
Brett Okamoto (1:37 PM)
I could not disagree with you more.
Read the Cheick Kongo has been removed from UFC's website, has he been cut??
Brett Okamoto (1:38 PM)
I haven't heard anything official but I'd be pretty surprised if he wasn't. It's weird because he doesn't really look "old" in there, but he just looks like he's collecting paychecks.
Hypothetical: if Jones, Silva and GSP were the same size, weight, etc., would one sweep head to head or could we see some crazy trilogy wars? In other words, who you got man?
Brett Okamoto (1:40 PM)
It's hard to say, even if you put them at same weight. Based on skills alone, I think the order goes Silva, GSP, Jones. And that might change over time, remember Silva and GSP have been doing this longer. Based on who is the most difficult puzzle to solve? I actually think it goes Jones, GSP, Silva. Basically though, let's say they all weighed the same, I think we'd have a Leonard, Hagler, Duran, Hearns thing going.
Great article on GSP. Is there anything to be made of two different people referring to Johnny Hendricks as a "cat?"
Brett Okamoto (1:40 PM)
Ha, I noticed that too when I was doing the interviews. Something feline about Johny about I guess.
You and most have it 99% Hendricks win over GSP? At least it seems that way, little crazy and disrespectful? You guys hate GSP, especially Gross.
Brett Okamoto (1:42 PM)
We don't hate GSP, come on. He's ranked No. 3 pound-for-pound at ESPN. I wouldn't say I'm 99% Hendricks, but if those two fight tomorrow, yeah I'm probably picking Johny. I think it's the first bad matchup for Georges in a long time. Not to say he's been fighting cans, but a powerful, aggressive bully with terrific takedown defense and maybe the best left hand in the sport? He's got a great chance.
Your thoughts on Dana going off on TRT, how it's cheating, and all that, then continuing to book Vitor on Brazilian cards where he is undoubtedly going to be using TRT.
Brett Okamoto (1:44 PM)
Yeah, I talked about this last week so I'll be brief, but I pressed Dana on that in Montreal like, come on, have the guy fight in Nevada and we'll see if he gets exempted or not. And if he doesn't, we'll see if he's the same fighter in there. I hope his next fight is in Nevada, but we'll see.
Joe Reilly (Sparta, NJ)
With Vadim (Fedor's manager) being a VIP at a recent UFC event, any news on Fedor signing with the UFC?
Brett Okamoto (1:45 PM)
Gotta let it go man. Gotta let it go. I guess you never know, especially with a guy who seems to give zero interviews, but I think Fedor is done.
Healy looked huge compared to Miller. Tremendous fight with many twists and turns. I hate the extreme weight cutting aspect of the sport (see Catone), but have to agree that Miller would be a top 5 145 lber. Do you like extreme weight cutting?
Brett Okamoto (1:46 PM)
Case by case basis. Do I like it when Anthony Johnson passes out in an LA hotel and is being carried to the weigh-in by his teammates, only to miss weight? No. Do I mind if a guy like Ben Henderson gets it down to a science of basically .10's of a pound? No, more power to him.
Koscheck vs. Maia? Ouch...Kos might get his walking papers after that one.
Brett Okamoto (1:48 PM)
Yep, Brazilian news outlet reporting that fight's been added to the Aldo/Pettis card. That's a good start to an awesome PPV, yeah? Maybe walking paper for Kos, we'll see. I would never sleep on Kos, he's lost a couple fights but he's still very good.
Jim Bob (the Counter)
$$$ So dangerous to wager MMA given that the favorites are so prohibitive chalk (can you imagine some idiot laying -1200 on Jones and having a toe stoppage come in), but I picked against Jim Miller too and thought Bisping and Big Country were slam dunks too. I need an MMA pick for this weekend.
Brett Okamoto (1:49 PM)
Take a week off Jim! Enjoy your 159 winnings! We'll see you later this month for the FX card.
When's the next time you think we'll see a card with two title fights? Only has happened twice if my memory serves me correctly... something like Bendo-Maynard/Grant and then a non-GSP/Bones title fight? Gimme a scenario.
Brett Okamoto (1:51 PM)
Let's say Ronda lost the belt to Zingano ... I could see her first defense (unless it was a rematch) as a co-main. Flyweights are always a possibility for co-main ... but in reality the UFC would only do it at this point you'd think for a pretty huge card. They have so many events now, no need to put two title fights on a single card. I think the last time it happened with Jones/Vitor over Johnson/Benavidez, wasn't Johnson/Benavidez originally the main but then 151 was canceled? I think so.
Doug (Green Bay)
Any idea when and where the GSP/Hendricks fight will take place? Any chance it is UFC 164 in Milwaukee?
Brett Okamoto (1:51 PM)
I think it happens after that card. With GSP, it's always going to most likely be in Canada and if not in Canada, Vegas.
I think Dana is full of crap as always teasing the superfights. I think Anderson was calling to see if Dana could get him tickets to the Mayweather fight.
Brett Okamoto (1:52 PM)
Haha maybe. I hope not, though. By the way, I'll be running the live blog on ESPN during the Mayweather fight, so if you don't want to buy the PPV or you just want to chat while you watch it, hit me up on the boxing homepage.
Hey Brett, finally went to my first event this past week. Didn't get a great bunch of fights, but as you always say, was a great experience. Some interesting characters at the event (to say the least).
Brett Okamoto (1:53 PM)
Nice man, I'm glad you enjoyed it. Very weird night for sure.
The UFC match ups always seem to spontaneously happen at the end of a card. Who was thinking DC VS BC (Big Country) before the knock out. What chance do you give BC to be a title holder?
Brett Okamoto (1:54 PM)
Not very good. Other than the overhand right, what's he really landed in the last two or three years? I love Roy, because he'll come forward even when he's hurt and gasping for air. That's enough to win some fights at heavyweight and be on the main card, but is it enough to win a title? I don't think so.
John (Austin, TX)
Say a Jones-Silva superfight does happen, putting that fight aside, does it put GSP in a bad light/taint his legacy because he'll look to have dodged Silva?
Brett Okamoto (1:56 PM)
I actually don't think so. Especially with people who are watching the sport halfway regularly, they'll understand the fight was a possibility. GSP was hesitant to go up in weight, another super star in Jon Jones came along and that fight made way more sense. That said, it will make it hard for GSP to ever pass either one of them as potentially the greatest fighter of all time, so I guess in that sense it hurts him. But I don't think it tarnishes what he's accomplished at all.
UFC 200 is not that far away are we talking 3 title fights?
Brett Okamoto (1:56 PM)
Woah, woah, woah. I'm thinking two, at most. And if it's a super fight, then one. Three? That's crazy man.
I can't believe you glossed over that women's fighting comment. My daughter is a state wrestling champ. Should she stop fighting because "conservative" Tim thinks she should make babies and be in the kitchen? The female fights are great.
Brett Okamoto (1:57 PM)
I will say I've gotten a lot of reaction from Tim's comment I haven't posted because I didn't want this entire thing to turn into a conversation on that one topic. Let's just say, Tim, I think you're in the minority on this one.
Am I crazy to think GSP may fight better in Vegas instead of in front of his home crowd? So much added pressure to win for them.
Brett Okamoto (1:59 PM)
I suppose it's possible, but I would think this guy has a ton of pressure on him whenever he fights. You reach a certain point of excellence and that becomes the expectation. I would think he'd fight best in Montreal just because of the comfort level, doesn't have to travel. Either way, I wouldn't say fighting in Vegas really ups his chances of finishing a fight, if that's what you're saying.
Brett Okamoto (2:01 PM)
Alright guys, lets wrap it for the week. Slow MMA week ahead, but we'll have more to talk about as Rockhold/Belfort approaches and we've got a heavyweight title fight at the end of the month (albeit, a likely uncompetitive one). Hit me on Twitter if I missed your question, @bokamotoESPN. I'm down to chat MMA all the time, not just on Wednesdays! Enjoy the rest of your week and we'll see you in seven days.