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? Thanks for joining today's chat. I won't waste any time today, have to catch a plane to Baltimore this afternoon annnnnnd haven't packed yet. So, we'll keep this chat to about 30-40 minutes today, but I'll try to fly through as many questions as possible. Let's go.
As a journalist, how do you feel about always fielding questions about fighters that are notorious for not fighting right now (Brock, Gina, the Diaz lads, etc.) Is the speculation fun or is it tedious?
Brett Okamoto (1:02 PM)
You mean in chats like this? I don't mind it. Kind of used to it, I guess. The Gina stuff has at least been real speculation, you know? I do believe Dana White and Lorenzo Fertitta are trying to get a deal done with her. Sometimes the Brock stuff gets a little old.
Tim (Fremantle )
Hey Brett, Chuck Liddell seems to think that Glover will win in 3. Do you share his confidence? I give him a punchers chance but not much more....
Brett Okamoto (1:03 PM)
Of course Liddell thinks that. They are former training partners. He told me he sees Glover catching him with something and then probably submitting him on the ground ... I see Jones winning inside four rounds.
Nick (Melbourne (Australia) )
Hi Brett, In your weekend report card, you talked about the problems with having a dominant champion, no 1 challenger who he has fought 3 times and then almost daylight to FW and daylight again to I assume Reem, TB, Big Foot, Hunt etc. If JDS and Cain are'nt going to fight again and there are no realistic challengers, what is the solution?
Brett Okamoto (1:05 PM)
I wouldn't say it's a "problem" to have a dominant champ, but unlike, say, the welterweight division in the UFC, Velasquez is going to get into a lot of rematches if he hangs on to the belt just because the division is so thin. That's not real fun. There is no solution though, really. Other than the heavyweight division getting some new blood or a guy like Jon Jones moving up ... I think we'll definitely without question see Velasquez/JDS 4 at some point, regardless of what Dana is saying right now.
Vince (State College PA)
I forget which talking head I heard saying it or who wrote it but They were talking about this obvious pecking order in the Heavyweight ranks where it seems like Cain is miles ahead of everyone then JDS and Werdum are on tier two a good bit ahead of the rest of the pack. Do you believe this? and if so which heavyweight contender if any is closest to jumping into that JDS and Werdum tier?
Brett Okamoto (1:07 PM)
I recall this as well. He struck me as a brilliant guy, this talking head you speak of. Which heavyweight is closest to jumping into the JDS/Werdum tier? I guess Stipe Miocic? Just because he has an opportunity to fight JDS next. I don't think he'll do it, though. Travis Browne was a good bet and he still could be ... maybe for Browne this is like a Phil Davis vs. Rashad Evans moment two years ago. He gets spanked by a veteran, goes back to the gym and then rips off another win streak.
Khabib looks ready, also I don't see how Pettis would be able to deal with his wrestling, I know he has improved but Khabib is at the highest level in grappling. I see a new champ. Does anybody beat him?
Brett Okamoto (1:09 PM)
Well, I'm not ready to just hand the belt to him yet but yeah, he's a tough matchup. The thing about a 'Bib, Pettis fight is that Bib would be on Pettis the whole time. He's real good at closing distances and smothering guys. Pettis needs space to do what he does. He'd have to land something in the clinch or utilize a ton of footwork to keep the fight in the open. That will be a great fight whenever we get to see it.
Pretty good show Saturday Brett. The UFC seems to use the Fox card to build interest in certain fighters. I'm thinking Romero is someone we'll see again on the next fight card. Who would be a good match-up for him next? Is Bisping a bad idea?
Brett Okamoto (1:10 PM)
Bisping just lost. It won't be Bisping. Sometimes the obvious answer is the right answer ... Tim Kennedy. The timing obviously works, it would make sense in the rankings, Kennedy's offensive grappling ... how would that stack up against Romero's wrestling pedigree? I like that fight.
How does it feel to have Dana as your opening act on today's chat?
Brett Okamoto (1:11 PM)
Happy for the guy to get an opening act somewhere. I think he has potential. I thought he did fine getting the crowd ready for the main show.
James (Albany )
Hey Brett, so what chance do you give your boy Elliott again JB? Me, it goes to a unanamous decision if he's lucky.
Brett Okamoto (1:12 PM)
Yeah, that's about right. Tim Elliott is my boy. I like watching him fight and I think he's good. I wasn't expecting him to fight Joe B in his first appearance in 2014, though. I think he can make it a fight ... Joe B is just damn good though. Big opportunity for TE to get a loud win.
Tim (Brighton, MA)
Hey Brett. If Rockhold is impressive again, and I suspect he will be, could we see a rematch with Vitor? Seems like it would be a good sell for Dana. If not, who? Jacare? Kennedy rematch?
Brett Okamoto (1:13 PM)
It's hard to say what's going to happen with Vitor. He needs to get licensed somewhere ... and when that happens, that random drug test he took in Nevada is going to become relevant again. Dana White doesn't want to talk about Vitor even a little bit right now. He gets anxious and defensive if anyone brings him up. I actually love the idea of having a non-TRT Vitor fight Rockhold in his first fight back, but it's real up in the air man. Tough to say.
Donald Cerrone vs. Michael Johnson who wins?
Brett Okamoto (1:14 PM)
Geno (Pittsburgh) [via mobile]
Hey Brett! Do you feel like the UFC is heading face first into a serious lull in exciting fights following this Saturday's card? It seems we're in for an extended stretch of lopsided and insignificant main events. For instance, Dillashaw should have roughly the same odds as Maidana. Matt Brown vs Erick Silva - stop the presses!!! In all seriousness, the only fights that get my juices flowing in between 172 and 175 are Woodley-Macdonald and Dos Santos-Miocic. What fight are you most anticipating during this drought?
Brett Okamoto (1:16 PM)
I hear you. I actually like the Matt Brown/Erick Silva fight quite a bit, but I understand it's not the biggest fight ever. Barao/Dillashaw ... yeah ... it's a good fight because Dillashaw has looked great and Barao is always worth a look but ... yeah, good not great. There is still a strong chance UFC 173 gets some help. DC vs. Hendo is still a possibility for that card. I do feel you, though. Personally, I like the Demetrious Johnson, Ali Bagautinov fight but I realize it will fly well, well, well under the radar.
BJ (Harlem, MT)
What do you think of a trilogy between Fallon Fox & Cyborg? Makes the most sense for Cyborg!
Brett Okamoto (1:18 PM)
It definitely does not make the most sense for Cyborg ...
I don't get it. Why doesn't Dana just whisper in Phil Davis's ear that he should build interest in a fight with Jon Jones. Seems kind of dumb to use his pulpit to admonish the guy for his lack of self promotion in public. Now it all seems sort of manufactured.
Brett Okamoto (1:20 PM)
I sort of agree. Phil Davis is a really funny dude, but you force him to run a Chael Sonnen routine and it's going to be real hit and miss. He is a potential guy they could market against Jon Jones though and by Dana putting it out there in the media, it draws buzz. More so than if he had just whispered it to Phil like you're saying. Dana is always going to think in terms of promotion.
rick,tx [via mobile]
Hey,,MOTO...what'd u think of danas chat,,,,,who's gonna win on sat,which fighters u got,,,,,,i think Glover can pull it off....thx love ur chats help my wrk day go by......
Brett Okamoto (1:21 PM)
Thanks Rick, appreciate it. Dana's chat was good, wish it could have ran longer. Whenever he goes to Bristol for an "ESPN car wash" though, it's a busy day. Can't sit on a computer for an hour-long chat as cool as that would be. I don't expect Glover to pull it off. As for my other picks, check out my preview of the event. It should come out either today or tomorrow morning.
The Rumble/Wonderful winner vs DC on the same card as Gustafsson vs Bones/Glover winner. Seems inevitable to me. You?
Brett Okamoto (1:22 PM)
I expect DC to fight Henderson. The winner of Johnson/Davis vs. the winner of DC/Hendo could be on the same card as a Jones/Gustafsson, or it could headline a Fight Night.
Took a quick glance at the transcript from Dana's chat and he said his top P4P fighter is between Jones and Barao. Are you surprised on how highly he thinks of Barao?
Brett Okamoto (1:24 PM)
Not really. He first said it ... I think after Barao defended the interim title for the first time? I do think he truly believes it, but I also think it's a way for him to promote a lower weight champion who doesn't get a ton of attention right now. By him saying that, maybe a casual fan is like, 'Wow, I should probably check this guy out.' You know? So its half truth, half convenient promotion. Barao is a stud though, bottom line.
Marc T (Sherman Oaks)
You mentioned DC/HEndo...whats going on w/ that? What's the hold up? And if that falls through, any other rumored additions to 173?
Brett Okamoto (1:25 PM)
It's had to do with getting Henderson cleared medically so quickly after the Shogun fight, plus they want to make sure that he has time to get off TRT, feel comfortable and get licensed in Nevada. I would expect news on it soon, May 24 is right around the corner.
Will Marloes Coenen ever fight in the UFC ?
Brett Okamoto (1:26 PM)
I hope so. That division could always use more depth, not to mention a fighter who has name value. I've always enjoyed Coenen both in terms of watching her fight and interviewing her. If I had to guess, I would say yes, she will at some point.
C (Boston )
How many more times does Wand try to pull out of the Sonnen fight?
Brett Okamoto (1:28 PM)
Positive thoughts. No more drama. We'll see that fight in July. By the way, random fact, the one fighter I run into on a regular basis in everyday life? Wanderlei Silva. I see him doing circuits on the weight machines at a local gym in Vegas allll the time. Which is kind of strange ... because he owns his own gym.
Leo (West Valley City, Utah)
Brett, Why didnt Dana give Werdum any credit for what he did? Travis was hurt, Travis this and that.. All I heard was excuses for why Werdum dominated Browne.
Brett Okamoto (1:30 PM)
Yeah ... I don't think he was completely underwhelmed with Werdum's performance. I even asked him that at the press conference in Orlando, I was like, 'So Dana, you mentioned Travis getting hurt and Werdum not finishing, so did you hate his performance?" And he said no ... I kind of think Dana had the same impression I did watching the fight ... Werdum looks good, but I think Cain will crush him. I don't want to put words in Dana's mouth, but I think it was more of that other than he didn't think Werdum looked good.
LSJ, Newark, UK [via mobile]
Hey Brett. How far can Theodore go?
Brett Okamoto (1:31 PM)
Sky is the limit for Theodore .... Who's Theodore?
Leo (West Valley City, Utah)
Brett!! I have a great idea for TUF! To make things exciting why dont they put on the show on each team a current UFC fighter that is either a prospect or lower tier guy. For me that would add a lot of excitement to the show.
Brett Okamoto (1:33 PM)
Really? That would add a lot of excitement? Basically, every fighter on TUF is considered a "prospect" ... with the occasional experienced guy who hasn't quite found his groove. I think they need to blow up the whole format of the show. Team challenges, vote offs, immunity -- all that reality show stuff. Make it fun to watch and sneak in MMA. It's like hiding a pill in a dog treat for your pup. Get the non-MMA fans to watch it and trick them into liking the sport along the way.
Nate (Pittsburgh )
What are the three big name fights that will realistically happen this year?
Brett Okamoto (1:35 PM)
Jones vs. Gustafsson II, Rousey vs. probably Zingano, man, I don't know what else. That's not good. There are great fights to be had but the "big name" fights you're asking for ... We won't see GSP or Silva this year ... Jones won't go to heavyweight ... A Cyborg or Carano fight is possible but not likely if you ask me ... I guess you could include Pettis/Melendez.
I thought T. Browne would have come further with his striking for this last fight. He needs to tighten that up and get confident/comfortable with it, JDS, Cain, etc....would out-strike him.
Brett Okamoto (1:36 PM)
I don't think it's a confidence issue, I just think he's a bit limited. He relies on his athleticism a lot ... maybe a little too much. You have to be versatile to beat a Top 3 guy.
Is it hypocritical of Dana to pump up Khabib yet banish Askren? As an Askren fan, I find it frustrating.
Brett Okamoto (1:37 PM)
I mean, I wouldn't say it's right of him to "banish" Askren or make it sound like Askren wouldn't win his share of fights in the UFC, but I don't really see the comparison of Askren to Khabib. Two very different guys, in my opinion.
Speaking of TUF, do you think Dana set up Lyman Good? It really felt like he paired him up with a strong wrestler in order to make sure he had the most difficult match up possible. Then he went out of his way to rip Bellator after. It just seemed a little too convenient.
Brett Okamoto (1:37 PM)
I honestly didn't see it. Full disclosure, I only catch TUF episodes about ... eh, 25% of the time. The scenario you just described sounds very possible though.
You don't (Often)
Underestimate guys... But Werdum has a shot against Cain, we know Cain can be knocked out, and Werdum is a master on the ground... Don't violate the any chance rule!!
Brett Okamoto (1:39 PM)
I would never violate the "he has a chance" rule. That's like a disclaimer you should add to every MMA story you ever write, "Hey, the guy has a chance because it's MMA" but I think Werdum is going to be too comfortable falling to his back against Cain. He'll fight takedowns but in the back of his head he's so confident on the ground that he won't fight them like his life depends on it. And so now he's on his back and ... really? You think Werdum can win a fight against Cain off his back? As good as Werdum's guard is, Cain will open him up with punches and elbows man. 100 %.
Tim (Brighton, MA)
How about Silva Machida for possible fights? Am I out of my mind? Machida loses to Weidman, no problem. Boom, December 2014, Anderson vs. Machida. Get it done Dana! Now or never!
Brett Okamoto (1:40 PM)
Nope, won't happen.
When Cain came back from his knee injury, he wasn't himself. Do you expect any rust against Werdum?
Brett Okamoto (1:41 PM)
What do you mean? His knee was still injured when he fought JDS the first time and he got hit with a haymaker in the first minute. He took care of the knee came back and destroyed Bigfoot. One of the worst beatings Cain has ever put on someone.
tdiddy (winnipeg) [via mobile]
Boy oh boy. Do people really think that, outside of ye ole "punchers chance" that Jones is going to lose to Glover? Ooof. Jones is twice as fast and has a giant reach advantage. Jones is going to make him look bad. Mark it Smokey.. Also Big Fights? People are forgetting about Machida V. Weidman. Thanks for the chats Moto...you are the wind beneath my wings.
Brett Okamoto (1:43 PM)
Means a lot tdiddy. Don't forget no one gave Gus a chance against Jones either ... but ... yeah I agree with you. Glover is a great fighter but he doesn't have a very mobile style. He's going to have to walk Jones down as opposed to move around him like Gus did in the first three rounds of that fight. Trying to walk your way through Jones' reach? We've seen how that ends already.
I'll take that action if Cowboy and MJ ever fight.
Brett Okamoto (1:44 PM)
What odds you giving me? The betting line on that fight, if it happens today, is probably ...... Cerrone -155, MJ +140.
Romero looked amazing, elite striking, wrestling, the ability to stuff takedowns and slip punches....i'd like to say that his gas tank is his only question mark, but is it? Who does he face next? I say feed him Kennedy and set him up for a #1 contender bout.
Brett Okamoto (1:45 PM)
I would agree with the gas tank comment. He hasn't really had a fight where he completely shut down, but I do get the sense he's most dangerous early. I agree have him fight Kennedy, but I wouldn't say "feed him Kennedy." Kennedy could hold his own in that fight, although I would make Romero the favorite.
Brett, I look back at Pride and early UfC and see like memorable fighters. Fighters that were "stars". Minus the champions, I don't see too many young marketable "stars". Feel that star power that Liddell and wanderlia are missing now a days. Am I wrong?
Brett Okamoto (1:47 PM)
No, you're not wrong. It's a different era. There are more high quality fighters out there ... which is great ... but it also, in a way, makes it more difficult to stand out. You have to have a hook these days in addition to being world class. You have to have an "it" factor, like Conor McGregor. As over the top as McGregor is, I'm looking forward to him being healthy again.
Hendo vs. DC booked as coheadliner for 173!
Brett Okamoto (1:48 PM)
True story. Dana White confirmed this morning, couldn't say anything on the chat until it was announced on ESPN. And with that we gotta wrap this thing. Thanks for joining guys, follow me on Twitter @bokamotoESPN for updates from Baltimore. See you next week!