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)
What's up guys? Happy Thanksgiving. Might keep this holiday edition of the chat a little shorter than usual as UFC has a media event here in Vegas I need to get to. Don't be shy. Any question is fair game.
Crazy but not surprising how closely Glover's style resembles Chuck's. I see Glover KO'ing JBJ. Your thoughts?
Brett Okamoto (1:03 PM)
I actually wouldn't really say Glover's style is THAT similar to Chuck. Chuck would pour it on at times but he loved counterpunching. Glover is more straight forward, pressure than Chuck. Glover will also wrestle offensively, whereas Chuck would use it almost exclusively as a defense. I thought Chuck was more willing to kick than Glover, who is all about the hands. I think Glover COULD knock out JBJ, but I'm probably not predicting it to happen.
M. Cervantes Huntington park Ca. [via mobile]
Will we see Nick Diaz in the octagon in 2014?
Brett Okamoto (1:04 PM)
I would guess yes.
True or False:UFC 171 in Dallas is GSP v. HendricksNext fight for Pacquiao is BradleyRef stoppage in Groves/Froch was justifiedRory MacDonald not being "motivated"Bellator next fights will be Straus/Curran III and Chandler/AlvarezIIIManuwa gets title shot with KO over GusMacDonald says he has an opponent, who do you think it is?
Brett Okamoto (1:07 PM)
I'm going to go with ... True, false (Marquez), didn't see the Froch/Groves but the consensus I've heard is that it was a bad stoppage, false on MacDonald not being motivated Lawler was just better, true on both Bellator fights, false on Manuwa, not sure about the MacDonald opponent.
Cameron (Auckland (NZ) )
Hey Brett, Your thoughts on Joe Rogans GSP / Brain damage comments and what it means for Georges and ultimately the sports future if Rogans right?
Brett Okamoto (1:08 PM)
I think Joe brought up some very real concerns. GSP has been in this sport for a long time, he spars hard in his training camps. He's probably taken enough blows to his head over the course of his career. If I was Georges' friend, yeah, I would probably be telling him right now to retire. What does it mean for the sports future? I don't think all that much unless he has serious, serious problems down the road.
ty [via mobile]
What's the most exciting fight to you coming up this month?
Brett Okamoto (1:10 PM)
Coming up this month, so December? For sure the most exciting fight left this year is the Anderson Silva, Chris Weidman rematch. Other than that though, I love the Demetrious Johnson, Joseph Benavidez fight. Matt Brown vs. Carlos Condit should be a lot of fun. And you know I'm gonna say my boy Michael Johnson vs. Gleison Tibau.
Nick (Melbourne (Australia) )
Hi Brett, I realise it's up to the commision to change judging and ultimately refereeing rules but do you see any of the recent suggestions post Henricks/ GSP having merit?
Brett Okamoto (1:12 PM)
Here's my take in a nutshell: MMA is still a relatively young sport. Will there come a day where its judging system looks different than it does right now? Yes, I believe so. What will that look like? I'm not entirely sure. Is judging a major, major issue right now in MMA? I would say no. Look back at 2013, how many poor decisions can you list? I mean real poor decisions where it was beyond a doubt the wrong guy won? There aren't many. I think everybody overreacts to "controversial" decisions. There were people who scored 167 for GSP other than those two judges. So, yeah, I think changes can and will be made but I also don't think the sport is necessarily suffering right now because of the judging system.
Eric ( corpus )
All right let's try this again do you think kelven Gaustalum could be a force at 170 2 what's your red ink mine blonco pena holdsworth, Diaz
Brett Okamoto (1:14 PM)
I think it's still too early to make a call on Kelvin. He's a real nice prospect with some real nice wins already. As far as Red Ink, if I were betting the TUF Finale I'd probably bet Maynard at -150. That's not great odds though, because I think the fight's pretty much up for grabs. I will say I like Mark Hunt at +150 against Antonio Silva next week a lot.
timon berlin [via mobile]
Hey brett Who do u WANT to see against pettis next (Not what u expect to happen but who u really want to see) For me its aldo no doubt
Brett Okamoto (1:14 PM)
Yeah, I'd have to agree. If we're picking anyone, give me Aldo/Pettis for sure.
Marc Iveson (UK)
Wassup Mr Okamoto! It feels like the calm before the storm at the moment with the great fights we have lined up before the year is out. I've got Condit Vs Brown as my fight off the year and possibly decade! How you see it going and who you routing for? I hate and love the fight as I dont want either to lose!!
Brett Okamoto (1:15 PM)
Yeah it's a great fight. They both have a ton of heart and good chins. They're both willing to stand in the pocket and trade, obviously. They both have gas tanks. I'm not rooting for either of them, they're both great fighters and good guys outside the cage. I think Condit is going to be too much, though.
whatsup bret! I cant wait for next years fight card and i got some fight cards on my wishlist which i hope it will happen, whats on your wish list?
Brett Okamoto (1:17 PM)
Honestly? Renan Barao vs. Dominick Cruz. Even though it's scheduled, that's one of those where you cross your fingers and hope both of them make it to the fight healthy. Other than that? Jon Jones vs. Cain Velasquez is one of the best fights the UFC could make right now, but I'm not sure I'm ready to see Jones move up yet. Welterweight division is full of good fights. I'm excited to have B.J. Penn back.
In my opinion MMA and UFC fighters are highly underpaid especially with the damage they receive. Will we ever see a union type scenario in the UFC or will lawsuits come first?
Brett Okamoto (1:18 PM)
What do you mean by lawsuits? You can't really sue the UFC to pay you more money once you've signed a contract that stipulates what they owe you. I think a fighters union could happen eventually, but I don't see much evidence of it happening in the near future.
Marc T (Sherman Oaks)
Any updates on GSP's issues and/or where he goes from here?
Brett Okamoto (1:20 PM)
Not really. He's posted a few photos of Twitter in which he looks perfectly happy. Apparently his father's health is fine, shooting down that rumor. It's still in the air but Dana White is definitely giving the impression that everything is fine and GSP will fight Johny again within a normal time frame.
I agree with your Diaz/Maynard prediction. Where does a win put Maynard and a loss leave Diaz?
Brett Okamoto (1:22 PM)
Three losses in a row for Diaz would not be good, but he'd still have a job. The UFC wouldn't cut him. He'd probably go up to 170 if I had to guess. He talked about that even before the loss to Josh Thomson. A win puts Maynard in a pretty good spot actually, even though it would only be a 1-fight winning streak. If Ben Henderson beats Josh Thomson in January, I could see the UFC wanting the Maynard/Henderson fight.
Hey Okamotors, Is it just me or Barao just gonna run through Cruz??
Brett Okamoto (1:23 PM)
I think most people are pretty much thinking that way ... I'm not one of them but I'm willing to admit I'm a huge fan of Cruz's style. I think he'll come back stronger than most are expecting, but I can see why so many think Barao will dominate him.
Have you spoken to Hendricks in the last week? Does he think he 'screwed up' by coasting a little?
Brett Okamoto (1:24 PM)
I only talked to him right after. He was pretty defensive of his performance, which is understandable. Listening to his interviews since, it doesn't really sound like he thinks he screwed up.
24-0....your Broncos are going in the wrong direction. I do think they bounce back for a strong win this weekend. Condit is going to walk through Matt Brown. Love Brown but that's a huge step up in competition imo. I'll take a Diaz knockout Saturday night as well. Anything else on that card worth wagering on?
Brett Okamoto (1:27 PM)
FIRST of all ... I'm actually a Cleveland Browns fan. So yes, my team is going in the wrong direction but it's not Denver. I tend to agree with Condit walking through Brown. I've picked Brown in just about every one of his fights during this win streak, maybe all of them. He's been highly underrated throughout it ... but now he's getting the No. 3 guy in the division who has a similar style to him only more versatile. I wouldn't bet Diaz knockout ... I'd bet Maynard decision. But that's me.
Crystal in VA [via mobile]
Should Derrick Rose retire? I hear his injury is pretty nasty.
Brett Okamoto (1:28 PM)
Apparently, you can undergo surgery on that type of knee injury and it's possible for the knee to be even stronger than it was pre-injury. I think Rose is probably going to have to alter his style of play at some point with all these injuries though ... time to be a spot up shooter if he can instead of a guy who has to have the ball.
Crystal in VA [via mobile]
Is it safe to say Pat Barry will get a pink slip if he comes up short in his next fight?
Brett Okamoto (1:29 PM)
He's fortunate because he's in the heavyweight division which lacks depth, plus he's a crowd pleaser. People remember him. That said, yeah if he loses and especially if he looks bad in the loss, he should probably be gone.
Marc (Brooklyn, NY)
Hey Brett! We're all looking forward to the Weidman/Silva rematch, but do you think that the Rousey/Tate rematch will be the Fight of the Night? I think Tate can make it more of a fight this time around.
Brett Okamoto (1:31 PM)
I do too. There's pretty much three ways I think you go about trying to beat Rousey ... 1. Stick and move on her, which is going to be extremely difficult because she's fearless moving into the clinch and sticking, moving, staying on the outside for 25 minutes on anybody is just hard. 2. A Cat Zingano sort of approach, where she'll clinch with you but she's got the athleticism to stay on her feet and the Muay Thai clinch to make Rousey pay for working to the inside. I also think this one is going to be hard to execute though, because even if Rousey takes a Zingano knee, she'll take her down in the process. 3. Out grapple her. I actually think it can be done. An athletic wrestler who can beat Rousey in the scramble. That could be Tate.
Mir vs. Reem: loser leaves UFC?? Does the winner get a chance to climb the ladder again or are they relegated to "gatekeeper" country?
Brett Okamoto (1:32 PM)
Depends who wins. If Mir wins, that's great, but nobody is really expecting him to move on the title again down the road. If Reem wins by first-round knockout, he'll get a ladder climbing fight for sure and could even be only one win away from a title shot.
Phil (Newark NJ)
Going to my first live card: UFC 169 in February! Any suggestions from you or other chatters on what to do and where to be during the event? Thanks
Brett Okamoto (1:33 PM)
During the event? Be in your seat watching the fights. If you're there for the whole week, try and find out where they are doing workouts and if they're open to the public. You'll meet the fighters and get to see them up close.
Do you see GSP/Hendricks ending differently with a refocused and motivated GSP? I find it hard to believe he is losing a step, I think the fire is burning out. Thoughts?
Brett Okamoto (1:35 PM)
I don't think the fire is burning out. Maybe it's not quite what it was earlier in his career, but he was obviously prepared for that fight. He was rocked in the second round, recovered. He was in shape. I do think he's starting to lose a little of his athleticism. That's to be expected at his age, plus don't forget he had the knee surgery issues as well. I think a rematch looks somewhat like the first, but Johny wins it. Can you imagine being GSP and having to get right back into camp to prepare for another Hendricks fight? A fight where by the end of it, GSP was looking sort of deflated?
Any word on BJ's prep for FW comeback?
Brett Okamoto (1:36 PM)
I spoke to his boxing coach yesterday. BJ camp is confident. Acknowledges Frankie has a difficult style but believe they know what needs to happen to get the win.
Any idea who Rich Franklin will take on in his last fight? Sonnen or Hendo II could be good. Can't see the UFC putting him against an up and comer
Brett Okamoto (1:39 PM)
You know what could be fun? Forrest Griffin. He's not in fight shape anymore but he missed out on his sort of "retirement fight" when he got injured. If he was going to come back, which I know a few people who guessed at the time of his retirement he eventually would, Rich Franklin would be the perfect opponent. More realistically, yeah, Hendo would make sense.
belfort came out like a mad dog againts hendo, do you think its better if he gets a shot againts weidman or just another get well rematch for silva?
Brett Okamoto (1:40 PM)
Either one really. There's interest in that Silva/Belfort rematch now, which I never really though would ever be the case. Belfort has looked SO good, it's actually revived the chances of that happening. If Weidman beats Silva again, a Belfort/Weidman fight is just as good though. Maybe even better.
Hey Brett, I know Weidman/Silva is a few weeks away but I was rewatching the fight and guess what I saw... Silva kicking Weidman's ass whenever he wanted. Silva is soooooooooo much faster than Weidman it ain't even a little funny. Essentially, Anderson is gonna steamroll Weidman because he's motivated. What are your thoughts, brah?
Brett Okamoto (1:41 PM)
I see what you're saying Stoke, I do. But I also saw Weidman take Silva down early in that fight and the only reason Silva got up was because Weidman went for a leg submission, which was probably a really dumb move. Weidman could take him down again in the rematch and do more work this time. Plus, you can assume Silva is motivated and taking this one seriously, but the truth is none of us know what to expect from Silva. He's completely unpredictable.
Browns? Sorry, thought you were a Denver guy. Any word on Askren to the UFC? Yes, I am in a hurry to see him get beat by top 10 competition in the UFC....
Brett Okamoto (1:43 PM)
I am a Denver guy, but I lived in Cleveland before that. Browns fan, Rockies fan. No word on Askren to the UFC. Dana White took a pretty hard stance they're not interested ... White has been known to change his mind quickly, but obviously there is a snag in bringing him over. I think he'll land somewhere else for the time being, but we'll see.
Carter (Chicago - Berwyn)
Johny screwed up...you have to take the title, not rely on a decision. He won't make same mistake twice. Can't wait for it...that was a GREAT fight!
Brett Okamoto (1:44 PM)
It was. The whole 167 card was a solid night of fights. I loved the MacDonald/Lawler fight. MacDonald is good and I don't think it really drops him all that much in my eyes, personally, but he wasn't mentally prepared quite yet for Lawler's meanness.
Over / Under....7 yrs......Dana is still the President of the UFC
Brett Okamoto (1:44 PM)
Marc T (Sherman Oaks)
Forrest/Rich already fought and Forrest was just too big for him; if I remember right I think Rich even said that
Brett Okamoto (1:45 PM)
That's right, Forrest outwrestled him quite a bit if I remember correctly. Good call, I had forgot about that fight.
What is next for Gil Melendez? How many wins away is he from another title fight?
Brett Okamoto (1:46 PM)
Not sure, Gil is doing some video for us at UFC 168, so I'll ask him then and definitely check those out the week of that event. He'll be with myself and Todd Grisham recording ESPN hits that Friday and Saturday.
Hey bret, i need an honest answer about this, which would you prefer? a date/night with megan fox or a front seat for Jon Jones vs. Cain Velasquez?
Brett Okamoto (1:47 PM)
Well, I'm married ... so give me the front seat. My younger brother would answer that question very differently.
Lots of Dana bashing going on, especially from people outside the usual realm of MMA reporters. Is it on Dana to alter his style as the UFC gets more mainstream press or are the "newbies" just going to have to get used to the brashness?
Brett Okamoto (1:48 PM)
Nah, I think some of the Dana bashing did come from non-newbies. I said, I think in last week's chat, Dana came off pretty terrible right after UFC 167. I can understand where his concerns were coming from, but he handled it pretty awful in my opinion. Dana is Dana. Most of the time, his brashness isn't really a bad thing. It's nice to cover a sport where the president will get fired up and tell you exactly what he thinks. Sometimes, it makes him look unprofessional, like it did after 167.
Lorenzo always comes across good in media interactions... such a fresh breath of air compared to Dana. Obviously a different person. Do you wish he would do more media?
Brett Okamoto (1:50 PM)
Lorenzo has done some interviews with me. He's relatively accessible if you contact him in the right way. That guy is just busy man, he's running a lot of different enterprises and it takes him all over the world.
Would the winner of Browne/Barnett be the #1 contender? HW is not very deep so it seems likely. Also Forrest/Rich II? No thanks the first fight was borderline unwatchable
Brett Okamoto (1:51 PM)
It doesn't completely feel that way but yeah, I think Barnett/Browne winner is your No. 1 contender basically by default. Who else is there? Cormier is going to 205. Werdum is next. JDS had his shot. Overeem is on a losing streak. Antonio Silva/Cain Velasquez trilogy? Don't think so.
Okamaniac (Parts unknown??)
Whats the inside scoop on TUF Chael vs Silva?? Brazil VS USA?? USA broadcast??
Brett Okamoto (1:52 PM)
No, Chael is coaching Brazilian fighters. No Brazil vs. USA. Last I heard they are still finalizing broadcast details in the US. I wouldn't worry. It will be available somewhere.
Paul (SF, CA)
So do we get the instant trilogy if Weidman loses to Anderson, or would they pull a Gus-Jones (i.e. making Weidman wait), assuming it was a definitive Silva win?
Brett Okamoto (1:53 PM)
I think they'd pull a Gus-Jones and make Weidman wait.
Jim Bob (the Counter)
I lost money on the Broncos last week. Any plays for Fight Night? I like Maynard, the Diazes struggle with top wrestlers.
Brett Okamoto (1:54 PM)
They struggle with top wrestlers, although Maynard rarely wrestles anymore. I think Maynard can beat him on the feet. He didn't have THAT much trouble with Diaz's volume punching when they fought the second time and his boxing has improved since then. He's pretty good at getting inside a taller opponent's reach and Nate doesn't always move his head. Maynard is clearly the harder puncher.
Brett Okamoto (1:55 PM)
Alright guys, hate to cut it short but I gotta run. Check back on the site this week for updates from TUF Finale. My preview of the Maynard/Diaz fight is on the site now, along with predictions from our other staff members. Enjoy Thanksgiving and we'll run longer in next week's chat. Thanks.