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)
Good card this weekend. I mentioned on Twitter yesterday ... I was looking at records and Shogun, for his entire career, is 6-for-6 knocking guys out coming off a loss. That's quite a stat. I think that's a trend you've got to believe in until it ends ... Shogun by TKO this weekend is my prediction. Let's get to your thoughts ...
Keith Cardoza [via mobile]
Why don't more fighter's focus on their weaknesses during camp. I mean someone like Rampage for example should only be training his take down defense and ground game. I understand training towards what can win you the fight but shouldn't the focus be turning weakness into strength. One example is someone like Demian Mai devoting the bulk of training camp to stand up.
Brett Okamoto (1:03 PM)
It's easier said than done. To get into the sport, you sort of have to love at least one aspect of it, right? I mean nobody gets into this sport if they hate every single martial art. But just because you absolutely love Muay Thai does not mean you won't loathe wrestling and BJJ. We'd like to think we would all just have the discipline to work on something we hate to further our careers ... but if you really hate wrestling, it's hard to dedicate hours at a time to it on a daily basis.
Is there any reason why that Bellator is releasing the female fighters?
Brett Okamoto (1:05 PM)
They won't officially say they're done promoting female fights but it certainly appears that way. With the UFC promoting a female class and the relative success of Invicta right now, there just aren't a ton of female prospects lying around is what my interpretation of this is. Contractually they have to give females on their roster fights, but if they can't maintain a division, it makes sense to allow those girls to fight somewhere else.
Alex Peer Des Moines Iowa [via mobile]
Is the new fox sports 1 gonna be a channel that everybody has or will we have to pay for it like fuel tv?
Brett Okamoto (1:07 PM)
You'll pay for it but I think it's one of those things you won't really notice you pay for it. It will be included in the bulk of television packages, you know? They negotiations right now are exactly what it will cost subscribers, but it's not unusual for those types of deals to go down to the last minute.
Brett, I absolutely accept that bet. Ive never heard your reason for thinking Pettis will beat Benson. I took a page out of your book and watched all of Pettis old fights, and didnt see anything to suggest hes fixed his grappling weaknesses, but benson has made improvements to his standup. Am I way off base here?
Brett Okamoto (1:09 PM)
Our bet was that I'll send you the credential and program from the event, right? My reason for Pettis beating Ben is that he didn't really struggle with Ben's pressure grappling in their first fight. Now, he's had several years working with Ben Askren to improve on that ... I think his footwork and athleticism already makes him difficult to take down. I'm not sold on this idea that Anthony can be held down for five rounds based on one three-round fight against Clay Guida in what was a letdown situation for Pettis.
If Rousey leaves for acting, Will the women's division leave with her? if not is the UFC prepared to have a women's 135 title fight in the Main or co-main that doesn't feature Rousey?
Brett Okamoto (1:11 PM)
No, the women's division won't leave with her but no, it's not ready to carry a main or co-main without Rousey. Remember, Rousey said in the report I assume you're talking about "two years." That's still some time. Time for another female to get big, time for her to lose and rekindle her passion for MMA ... or of course, maybe she loses and says, "It's been real but I'm out." It's hard to predict. But I wouldn't jump the gun on worrying about a Rousey-less UFC. She's still here.
haters going to hate: [via mobile]
Mr.okatomo,will u be there to see ;alliaster drop t . brown in round 2!!!!!!!!!
Brett Okamoto (1:13 PM)
If by "there" you mean the couch in my living room with a box of pizza in my lap then yes, I will be there. Franklin McNeil will be on the ground for ESPN. Honestly, I'd be willing to cover every event in person but it is admittedly nice to catch one from home here and there. I'll be at every PPV the rest of the year though, which I'm excited about.
Brett, how much longer do you think before Sergio Pettis gets picked up by the UFC or one of the other two name companies? The kid is a beast, and I think he can contend for a championship
Brett Okamoto (1:16 PM)
You wouldn't think too much longer. Obviously the UFC is aware of the kid. He's only 19. I'd predict he's in the UFC by no later than 21. Probably 20.
Ian (Santa Cruz)
Say Rousey is still the undefeated champ blasting through people with first round arm bars in 2 years. Setting aside what a tragedy it would be for the sport if she quit under those circumstances, isn't she also forfeiting any claim to "one of the all time best" by leaving so much on the table? I'm a huge rousey fan, but really disappointing in talk of hanging it up after only a couple years in the game.
Brett Okamoto (1:18 PM)
I guess she would be forfeiting some of that claim to "best ever" ... but then again, if she's still blasting through girls with first-round armbars at that point, that'd be like 5 solid years of one armbar after another. She'd beat everyone available, multiple times if that's the case. So in another sense, there wouldn't be much left for her to prove at that point.
Jose R (Orlando, FL)
Rua is known to gas in fights and Sonnen is known to quit when in a bad spot ( I don't really think he does but that is what people say ), who wins and how? I think if Sonnen takes Rua down and avoids submissions then he has it.
Brett Okamoto (1:20 PM)
I like Shogun to win the fight but no doubt about it, his gas tank is the biggest concern. In the FIRST ROUND against Gustafsson, I remember thinking, "Uh oh, Shogun is basically down to desperate overhand rights already." I think Chael, even undersized for this fight, is good enough to avoid overhand rights from a tired opponent for three rounds. So, Shogun needs a good start, he needs to hurt Chael early, defend the takedowns and hopefully he's in shape because it's true what you said, if Chael gets going in a rhythm then Shogun will gas.
Who needs a win more: Dustin Poirier or Erik Koch?
Brett Okamoto (1:20 PM)
I would probably say, without taking the time to refresh my memory on their records ... Poirier. But they are both safe in terms of job security regardless of how the fight goes.
Ali MacDonald (Glasgow, Scotland)
Hey Brett, I was wondering could you please tell where the hell Sexyama has vanished to? I miss his....well Sexiness lol. Thanks.
Brett Okamoto (1:22 PM)
I miss it too. I miss it too. I'm honestly not sure what the latest is with Akiyama. He was injured midway through last year ... you gotta think he's a bad guy to get injured because he was already cutting weight to make it to 170. I wouldn't be surprised if after all this time off he's tipping the scale closer to 190-200 again.
Chris (Ceres ca)
C'mon Brett you always ignore my questions and sometimes I have to cry myself to sleep at night. Anyways Uriah hall, I had big expectations for him, should I still? I think micheal Johnson might out wrestle him to a dec. again.
Brett Okamoto (1:24 PM)
I don't see Michael Johnson outwrestling Hall. Mostly because, Hall is fighting John Howard and MJ is fighting Joe Lauzon. We'd have to incorporate some tag team action for that to play out. I like Hall to win the fight, but Howard is dangerous. I haven't seen as much from him at 185, used to seeing him at 170, but he's explosive and he was training for five-rounders in the promotion he signed with so he should be in shape even though it's short notice.
Brett where have you been my Wednesday afternoon's were beginning to get boring???I think watching paint dry would be more exciting than a rampage tito fight... are they making alvarez/chandler the official headliner or just in spirit? I think that's a great fight but I feel bellator is proving why they are a second rate organization
Brett Okamoto (1:27 PM)
Rampage-Tito is the official main event but Chandler-Alvarez is the main event in our hearts. Even though Bellator has plenty of financial backing right now, you can't really call them second-rate like it's a bad thing because let's just call it what it is, it can't compete with the UFC at this current time. It just can't. So, I can understand their business moves for the most part. The worst case scenario for them is if numbers on the PPV flop and on top of that, Tito and Rampage fight in a way that very clearly tells all of us they are doing nothing besides picking up a check.
Tim (Brighton, MA)
Hey Brett, Saturday, who has the most the gain and most the lose? I feel Overeem and Browne probably have the most to gain, could the winner, if really impressive, get a title shot next? Most to lose is probably Faber IMO, should definitely win, but a loss or average decision might keep him from ever getting another shot at a title. Thoughts?
Brett Okamoto (1:28 PM)
Yeah, I'd say you summed it up pretty well. You could always make a case that a guy like Michael Johnson, Manny Gamburyan, Cole Miller, have more to lose than Urijah because they could be cut, but yeah, Urijah basically has to be perfect every time he fights because he's already in a spot where few want to see him fight for the belt ever again. For sure, Browne and Overeem have a ton to gain.
Hey Brett, do you think Travis Browne could be a serious contender in the HW division? In my opinion, had he not been hurt in the bigfoot fight he'd still be undefeated. What do you think?
Brett Okamoto (1:30 PM)
I agree, he would have beat Bigfoot in that fight minus the injury. I think he's got the potential to be a serious contender, for sure. He basically already is. He's clearly, unquestionably in the Top 8-7-6 range in that division. Can he beat a guy like Cain Velasquez? I'm not sure but really, nobody in that division might be able to beat CV.
Timon (berlin germany)
hey brett whats upwhat du u is next for chael sonnen? If he wins 185 again and if he loses Fox?
Brett Okamoto (1:31 PM)
I thought there was a chance he'd retire after Jon Jones and I was wrong. He just signed a new deal, so I'm thinking his plan is to continue fighting win or lose this weekend. The UFC created some buzz about a potential fight between he and Vitor Belfort, but now they're creating buzz about Belfort vs. Lyoto Machida. I'd prefer Belfort, Machida personally. But either way, Chael will be back fighting at 185, win or lose.
Marc Iveson (UK)
Hey man, missed the last few weeks so catching up whilst at work reading the chat wraps. So pumped for this weekends fights. A lot are going under the radar like Macdonald vs Pickett, Miller vs Gamburyan and Brandao vs Pineda! SO MANY FIGHT OF THE NIGHT CONTENDERS I MIGHT JUST EXPLODEEEEEEEEE!!!!!
Brett Okamoto (1:32 PM)
If you do, thanks for being part of the chat. We had a good run.
Jerry (Cortland, IL)
As of now, are you going to be able to see the fights this weekend? I really hope they get this all straightened out in time, I can't remember the last time I was this excited for a card top-to-bottom.
Brett Okamoto (1:33 PM)
Right now, FS1 still doesn't have deals with many of the major television companies but the assumption is that it will most likely get done. I don't know a ton about TV details like this but from what I've been told, this is fairly common procedure.
Does Cat Zingano take a fight while waiting for the Rousey/Tate winner?
Brett Okamoto (1:33 PM)
No, her timetable fits in well with Rousey/Tate fighting in December. She'll be the No. 1 contender when she returns.
Marc T (Sherman Oaks)
Any good plays this weekend?
Brett Okamoto (1:35 PM)
I'd take Shogun at plus-money alllllll day. I'd also probably take a shot on Michael Johnson at +180 over Joe Lauzon, but that's probably just because I'm an MJ fan. I'd take a shot on Silver 170 over Mike Brown and Matt Brown -165 over Mike Pyle.
Brett Okamoto (1:35 PM)
That's *Siler by the way over Brown.
Shawn ( huntington, WV)
Brett, beyond a (punchers chance) does Gustaffson really have a shot to beat Jones??? thanks
Brett Okamoto (1:37 PM)
He does, yeah. This is a guy, to bring up an earlier question, who really did work on his weakness, which was wrestling. After he lost to Phil Davis on the floor, he never wanted to let that happen again. If Gus can stay on his feet man, he is extremely durable. He took overhand rights from Shogun FLUSH on the chin and just shook them off. I think he has more one-punch knockout power than Jones. Jones is explosive and violent but he doesn't carry a ton of flash knockout power. So, if it ends up being a standup fight, Gus has a shot no doubt. But if Jones can take him down and keep him down and elbow him, then it's just a Jon Jones repeat we've seen so many times before.
J (all day)
Why post questions from folks who don't know who is fighting who? Faber V Alcantara? Barnburner? How's it play out?
Brett Okamoto (1:39 PM)
I think Faber grabs ahold of him and out grapples him. That's really Faber's strength to begin with and it's Alcantara's weakness. If Alcantara can defend that, then yeah I think it almost mimics a little bit of Frankie Edgar/Charles Oliveira in the standup realm. You have an upright, powerful southpaw in Alcantara who throws the kitchen sink at you against a quick, boxer type in Faber. But most likely, I think Faber is successful taking him down.
@ZJOIN85 (St. Louis )
How's the day going Brett? How interesting would vitor and machida be? I think it forces machida to fight and makes vitor a little more cautious.
Brett Okamoto (1:41 PM)
What's up Z? Visited St. Louis for the first time this year by the way, loved Busch Stadium. I could see Vitor/Machida being awesome ... but that's the fan in me talking. The analyst in me sees a somewhat boring fight, with both of them showing a lot of respect, Lyoto hanging back and Vitor sort of standing in the middle with his hands cocked but not letting them go. That would be one of those fights where the crowd would be booing, booing, booing, then all of a sudden one of them would see an opening, explode, knock the other guy out and the crowd would go nuts.
Andy [via mobile]
Any good lines this week and don't you dare tell me ur man crush Michael Johnson!
Brett Okamoto (1:41 PM)
You guys know me too well.
Ian (Santa Cruz)
Just rewatched Alvarez/Chandler 1 after hearing about the rematch, and man what a great fight. Do you think the rematch comes close to the original, and who get's his hand raised ? My heart says Eddie, but my head says Chandler...
Brett Okamoto (1:43 PM)
Yeah, I'll have to go back and watch that one again as well. That was awesome. If I remember correctly, didn't it happen at the same time as Shogun/Henderson? If I'm way off, forgive me, these cards can sort of blend together, but I remember there being an awesome fight in the UFC right around the same time as Chandler/Alvarez I. I agree, I think Chandler takes the rematch but that one's tough to pick.
Do you think shogun working with freddie roach will improve his standup dramatically?
Brett Okamoto (1:43 PM)
Short answer, not really. It doesn't sound like they spent enough time together to really change much and Shogun is so set in his ways by now ... but it can't hurt right?
The only way id buy a bellator PPV to see two old guys fight is if Uncle Dana and Rebney are the ones headlining. Who you got in that fight?
Brett Okamoto (1:44 PM)
Rebney, he'd be more hungry. Dana would be one of those "too emotional" fighters too, I think.
B/R (Absolute worst site on the web)
Top 5 fighters not currently employed by Zuffa are:
Brett Okamoto (1:45 PM)
I guess I'd say ... Michael Chandler, Pat Curran, Ben Askren, Bibiano Fernandes and Cyborg.
Is Werdum definitely next for the winner of Cain v Junior III? Or do you see him needing one more, possibly against Saturday's co-main event winner...
Brett Okamoto (1:47 PM)
I kinda think he needs one more ... the bad taste of that Overeem/Werdum fight in Dallas under Strikeforce still lingers but you know what, I think you're right and they'd rebook it if Overeem wins.
Adam (Long Beach)
Tons of hype around Conor Mcgregor. Do you think he lives up to the billing and puts on a great performance against Holloway or does Holloway do at least enough to put the breaks on the hypetrain?
Brett Okamoto (1:48 PM)
I could see Holloway giving him a fight, definitely. McGregor is so new though that if he got into a tough fight and prevailed, that almost adds more to him if you ask me. If he breezes through Holloway, that's cool too, but I'll tell you, sometimes seeing these guys go through a tough fight tells you a lot more about them than if he goes in and knocks him out early. I would encourage all of you to watch the guy though, get on board with the prelims. He's entertaining.
Do you see DC vs Jones being one of the next big rivalries? Alai Chuck VS Coture 1,2 or 3?
Brett Okamoto (1:50 PM)
Eh ... maybe. Jones has a lot more left to his career than DC though. And as much as I love DC and think DC is legit, he STILL hasn't really fought any high, high competition, you know? You can't keep using that against him, he's fought who the promotions have put in front of him, but the general consensus on Barnett and Mir is that they are done. There's a big difference between those guys and Jon Jones. So, suggesting DC is capable of giving Jones a three-round trilogy is jumping the gun a bit, I think.
Who has a better matchup/chance of beating Aldo, Lamas or Cub?(Cub seems to have a slight speed edge over Lamas.)
Brett Okamoto (1:51 PM)
Yeah, I would say Cub but just barely. I would guess the betting line though would actually be lower for Lamas.
Hey Brett. I write for a college paper in Milwaukee and was thinking about seeing if I could get a credential to cover UFC 164. I've heard the UFC has really strict credential standards though and don't let many people in. Any idea how, if at all, I could go about applying for one?
Brett Okamoto (1:52 PM)
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Brett, with these fighter contracts is there any guaranteed money in the contracts? for example could the UFC cut anderson and pay him nothing after he signed a 10 fight deal?
Brett Okamoto (1:54 PM)
All the power basically rests with the UFC when it comes to cutting a fighter. In your example of Anderson, yeah, there are certain rights the UFC has in wording that says, if you lose a fight we can cut you. It's sort of like boxing where a fighter's value can change drastically in a short amount of time. I haven't seen Anderson's contract obviously so I can't say for sure, but the UFC always has contracts that are geared mostly in the promotion's favor.
tdiddy (winnipeg) [via mobile]
Any news of Funky Askren's Bellator status? World obviously love to see him in the UFC as the guys he's mauling in Bellator don't really seem to have the explosivness that the 170's in the UFC have. And, oof marone, would I love to see that cocky mug get battered around a bit.
Brett Okamoto (1:57 PM)
His contract is played out. He's technically a free agent to the best of my knowledge. Now, "free" doesn't really describe it as we saw with Eddie Alvarez. It will be interesting to see if the UFC makes an offer ... you know, they might make an offer just to push up Askren's price tag and force Bellator to pay him more. That kind of thing happens. Honestly, I don't think Askren is going to bring as much interest from the UFC as Alvarez did. We'll have to see what happens.
Does Cruz contend against Barao when he gets back? I'd think the long layoff would effect his mobility, which is his strongest weapon.
Brett Okamoto (1:58 PM)
Josh Gross had Cruz's coach on the podcast the other week and I think he said they wouldn't need a tuneup fight. That wasn't surprising to me, Cruz is going to want to get right back in it at the top level and that's what the UFC would expect having allowed him to hang on to the belt for this long.
Who wins the mythical matchup of Ben Askren vs. Damian Maia? That'd be a traditional vs. BJJ wrestling clinic!
Brett Okamoto (1:58 PM)
I got Maia.
Jerry (Cortland, IL)
Just a pet peeve, but when UFC programs put up a graphic about the heavyweight division, it's shown as 205+. Thats NOT the case, there's a 265 lbs limit. Any chance there will ever be a super-heavyweight division? Or maybe add in a 225 lb division and then no limit above that?
Brett Okamoto (1:59 PM)
No to both, at least not any time soon. And geez Jerry, THAT'S your pet peeve? I can find worse things than that to complain about!
sean, monrovia, ca [via mobile]
Everyone wants bones to move to hw, but why can't he hold both belts, rule both divisions and go down as one of the greatest?
Brett Okamoto (2:00 PM)
It's a little different when you're talking about heavyweight and light heavyweight. If you were to hold both belts at like, 155 and 145, that's way more doable. For Jones, he has to be 205 at light heavyweight, but he'd want to be around 245 probably at heavy. That's a lot of weight to fluctuate. And really, two-division champs aren't a great thing for the UFC because it limits how many title fights it can promote in each division if one guy holds both.
Marc (Brooklyn, NY)
Brett, what's your take on the the upcoming rematch between Condit and Kampmann? Good fight and I think Condit gets his revenge this time via UD.
Brett Okamoto (2:01 PM)
Good fight indeed. Kampmann's wrestling was the major difference in that first fight. I think Condit hasn't become a great wrestler since then, but he's improved. Kampmann always gets hit too much, in every fight. You expect Condit to tag him relatively frequently.
Dan Hardy's Mohawk (MMA Purgatory)
Michael Johnson is potentially looking at 3 straight losses. You think the UFC cuts him with a loss to JOLO? Dude has all the tools but he reminds me of like a slightly poorer man's version of Melvin Guillard
Brett Okamoto (2:03 PM)
Eh ... I'm not sure I'd relate him to Melvin. I see the comparison in athletic ability but I wouldn't say he has quite the potential of Melvin ... and he's waaaay more grounded than Melvin is from a mental standpoint. I would think they cut him, yeah. If they don't, it's because he does show potential and he was on TUF, so they've invested in him already. You have to fight like your job is on the line though if you're MJ.
So if I remember correctly you have Pettis over Henderson, Jones over Gus, Hendricks over GSP, and Silva over Weidman. Rank them in order of most confidence to least confidence.
Brett Okamoto (2:03 PM)
......... Jones over Gus, Hendricks over GSP, Pettis over Henderson, Silva over Weidman.
Marc T (Sherman Oaks)
WOW, Chaels the favorite????
Brett Okamoto (2:04 PM)
That's what I said!
Why are your chats so inconsistent? JA always had a set time and day. How come you don't?
Brett Okamoto (2:04 PM)
I do. Wednesday, 1 p.m. ET. IT's been that way since ... forever.
Brett, is Anderson Silva dominates Chris Weidman at UFC 168 and knocks him out, is a superfight with Jones possible? Also, should Silva vs Jones happen in 2014, how many PPV buys do you predict it will get? Could it potentially get to 1.5 million buys?
Brett Okamoto (2:05 PM)
Yes, super fight will be very much back on the table if Anderson knocks Chris out. I would predict less than 1.5 million, but maybe in the 1.2 range?
Jared (San Diego, CA)
What fight are you looking forward to most. For me it just might be Brown vs Pyle. Not a lot of talk about this fight but I know it will be good, possibly fight of the night in my opinion.
Brett Okamoto (2:06 PM)
You can always count on Brown for a good fight and Pyle knows he HAS to win. He will go out on his shield 10000%. It's that kind of fight for him. I really am looking forward to the McGregor/Holloway fight. Browne/Overeem is probably the one I would want to watch most though.
Jerry (Cortland, IL)
Where do you think the Bellator female champions will go next?
Brett Okamoto (2:07 PM)
I've read the Vegas culinary union is the reason the UFC has issues getting into NY. I understand the how, I would like to know the WHY? Why does the culinary union have issue with the UFC?
Brett Okamoto (2:08 PM)
Because the UFC is owned by the Fertitta brothers, Frank and Lorenzo, who also own a chain of non-unionized casinos in Las Vegas. The Union has been battling the brothers for years on that issue, and that warfare has spilled into them attacking the UFC.
conceivably, how many title shots can Faber get since 135 isnt so deep?
Brett Okamoto (2:09 PM)
One more at 135 and maybe, maaaaaayyyyyyyybbbbeee one more at 145 if Aldo moves to 155.
Parolee Proud (Rochester NY)
I hear ufc 167 is gonna be loaded for their 20th anniversary show. Any rumored fights??
Brett Okamoto (2:10 PM)
The latest is the Machida/Belfort ... which is only a rumor at this point. Just a personal guess here, haven't heard anything, but I wouldn't be surprised to see them have Rory fight on the same card as Georges. Just to stir that up. That seems like a UFC move.
Cant believe McDonald vs Pickett didn't make the main card! Who do like in that. I'd say McDonald by DEC
Brett Okamoto (2:11 PM)
Alec Baldwin (Capital One)
B-MOTO: What's in your wallet??
Brett Okamoto (2:13 PM)
I actually just lost my wallet two weeks ago. So right now, there is only the extreme basics. ID, credit card, a sticky note with the account numbers to all my travelers rewards points things and about four $1 bills.
Brett Okamoto (2:14 PM)
Now that you know what's in my wallet, we'll wrap it there. Enjoy the fights this weekend, we will be running the live updates/chats during the card so feel free to pop in and leave comments there and vote in the polls. Check out my blog on Travis Browne that went up on ESPN.com/MMA this morning, thought he had an interesting comment on Jon Jones and athletic commissions. And as always, follow me on Twitter, @bokamotoESPN. Til next week ...