Chat with Brett Okamoto
Welcome to SportsNation! On Friday, 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 Friday at 1 p.m. ET!
Brett Okamoto (1:02 PM)
Happy Friday everybody. Glad to have you with me in today's chat. I am in Sacramento this week for UFC 177. Right off the bat, no, this is not the deepest card the UFC has ever put on, but we've definitely got a good main event to discuss in my opinion. Plenty of other headlines to get to as well. Maybe some gambling and (a little) fantasy football talk? Up to you. Ask away.
raymond. visalia ca [via mobile]
hey brett, what do you think of baroa's chances of getting his belt back?
Brett Okamoto (1:04 PM)
Vegas usually sets pretty good odds, and they have Barao around a very small underdog. I'd say that's about right. Styles make fights and T.J. seems to have Barao figured out. You can't say that conclusively from one fight and Barao said he was on auto pilot after the first round, but I just think it's obvious that T.J. prepared for Barao for two years and came up with a very solid game plan to beat him. I don't see that changing in the rematch, but Barao has one-punch knockout power for a bantamweight and he throws with precision so, it's still a dangerous night for T.J.
Tooley (kentucky) [via mobile]
What's up Brett! I can't find a good line this weekend that really intrigues me. Any that stand out to you?
Brett Okamoto (1:06 PM)
None really jump off the page, no. Personally, I probably wouldn't be on the main event but if I did, I'd probably take T.J. -160. Derek Brunson -140 maybe? Shayna Baszler in a minor upset over Bethe Correia? If Ramsey Nijem has a night, he could cash +175.
Jack (Marlboro) [via mobile]
Hey, your always saying Jon Jones vs Cain Velasquez Would be Awesome, but if he were to have 1 fight before facing Cain at Heavyweight, it would be against JDS just to test him. Who would win a 3 ROUND FIGHT? Appreciate it Brett
Brett Okamoto (1:07 PM)
If (and when) Jones goes to heavyweight, he will fight for the belt right away if he's still the light heavyweight champion. I'm 99.9% sure of that. But if he were to fight JDS in a three-rounder, I have to go with Bones right now. As I've said many times on this chat, hopefully JDS is evolving but those last two fights against Cain showed he was so comfortable being who he was, maybe he's against change. That's not to say he's not a great fighter, but you have to evolve and be well-rounded to beat guys like Cain and Jones.
Jon (Long Island)
It sounds like the UFC is eventually going to do a Rockhold v. Bisping fight, so if Jacare handles Mousasi (which I think he will), do you think Jacare is next for Weidman if he beats Belfort?
Brett Okamoto (1:10 PM)
Dana White threw a wrench in that yesterday when he told UFC.com he wanted to set up Rockhold vs. Machida in Brazil. I was surprised. Rockhold is marketable and coming off a win. Machida just lost in a title fight. Why risk having Rockhold lose in Brazil to a guy who just lost to the champion? I'm not necessarily against it, it's just not the kind of business move we're used to seeing from the UFC. I guess maybe Bisping gets the winner of Jacare/Mousasi? Or C.B. Dollaway is still out there. If it were up to me, I would have done Rockhold/Bisping, Machida vs. loser of Jacare/Mousasi. Winner of Jacare/Mousasi vs. winner Dollaway. Annnnd not sure what happens to winner of Tim Kennedy/Yoel Romero.
Robert (NY) [via mobile]
Chats are awesome, my question is why isn't Michael Chandler going to Ufc? He beat alverez by Submission, and lost a bad decision last in the second fight. If he did sign with UFC, how far could he go? Thank you dude
Brett Okamoto (1:11 PM)
He's not going to the UFC because he's under contract with Bellator. A nice contract, that pays him guaranteed money. If he were to go to the UFC, he'd be Top 10 I believe, maybe Top 12. I don't think he'd compete for a title right away.
Jon (Long Island)
I thought the UFC did an excellent job with the main card for the Cain/Werdum 180 event in Mexico. I'm especially intrigued by the Lamas v. Bermudez fight. Who's your pick there?
Brett Okamoto (1:13 PM)
Yeah? Jake Ellenberger vs. Kelvin Gastelum in a PPV co-main event isn't the strongest move to me. Opening with a Marcus Brimage vs. Erik Perez fight ... also not very strong. Going for the Mexican flavor obviously, but I don't think PPV consumers are going to flock to that lineup. I do like the Lamas/Bermudez fight and I will probably pick Lamas.
Anthony [via mobile]
Will Siva KO Diaz? And would you be Suprised if he does?
Brett Okamoto (1:14 PM)
I believe Silva will KO Diaz .... so, no I would not be surprised if he does.
Lucas [via mobile]
Am i Crazy For Thinking Yoel Romero is gonna KO Tim Kennedy? It's a tough fight but it's gonna be awesome
Brett Okamoto (1:15 PM)
No, not crazy at all. Romero has power and he's obviously very explosive, especially early in a fight. Kennedy is one of those guys who I just think will always be slightly awkward on the feet. He's not a BAD striker, per se, but he's not a natural at it. I think we can safely say that. Kennedy understands distance though, he doesn't take real big shots that often and he can grapple with anyone. Think he's got an edge in the gas tank, too. I wouldn't predict a Romero KO, but yeah, it's on the table.
Joey (ARIZONA) [via mobile]
With all these "older fighters" in Bellator, Do you think Scott Croker is gonna keep bringing in the veterans? Mayhem Miller had hinted at it and so did Ken Shamrock, why do you think he's bringing in the older fighters than the "new breed" if you will? Thank you
Brett Okamoto (1:17 PM)
Coker just got there. Trust me, bringing in home-grown talent to Bellator (and keeping them there) is a major focus of his. The company can not be successful otherwise. And Coker and his people have a track record when it comes to finding talent. You look at all the former Strikeforce prospects who are killing it in the UFC right now. Coker will identify young talent and he will sign them to Bellator. Give him a minute.
Cameron (Auckland (NZ) )
Mark Hunts now signed a long term deal (6 fights) whilst I think Anderson still has 8 or 9 to go. Do you expect both of them to see out their contracts and (potentially) fight for titles or are both more in "gatekeeper / entertainment" roles? On that, cant wait for Hunt and Nelson - has potential to be FOTY.
Brett Okamoto (1:20 PM)
Yeah, Anderson has 8 fights left. That's a hard thing to predict, but if I had to put money on it, I would bet on Anderson not completing that contract. But who knows, I mean, he could finish that out in 4 years ... that would put him at 43. I know he's coming off that terrible injury, but he hasn't taken A TON of head trauma during his career, relatively speaking. So maybe he gets in a groove and finishes it out. Who knows. As far as the gatekeeper thing, I mean, Mark Hunt has never really been looked at as a serious title contender to begin with ... and Anderson, I'm not even thinking about the title when it comes to Anderson yet. It's not even on my radar, personally. Let's see how he looks against Diaz before we even broach the subject.
Brandon (phone) [via mobile]
Hey Brett, How do you see llamas vs Burmudez playing out? Everybody's picking llamas but I think it'll a competitive fight.
Brett Okamoto (1:22 PM)
Bermudez being the aggressor, changing levels, corralling Lamas against the fence. Lamas isn't really known as an in-and-out guy, but I think he'll recognize he's a little more "polished" than Bermudez and try to fight smart. Lamas is really at his best when he takes guys down and gets in top position, but he'll know that's going to be tough against another wrestler. It will be one of those, two wrestlers who can't take each other down so they strike ... and I think Lamas wins that.
Leo (West Valley Utah)
Brett!! How sleazy is Dana White? Top 10 like GQ states?
Brett Okamoto (1:23 PM)
I think that kind of thing is in the eye of the beholder.
Hey Brett, love the chats. If the Woodley/Lombard fight comes to fruition, is the winner next in line for a title shot??
Brett Okamoto (1:23 PM)
Would be tough to pass Rory MacDonald, if MacDonald beats Tarec Saffiedine.
Marc T (Sherman Oaks)
Bonnar to Bellator! Uh, who cares?
Brett Okamoto (1:24 PM)
I guess I care a little, just because I like Bonnar.
Thanks for helping me kill some time at work before the holiday weekend!How close is Frankie Edgar to another title shot? Does he have to wait until Aldo drop the belt?
Brett Okamoto (1:25 PM)
I don't think Frankie is really hurt by the fact he's lost to Aldo before ... because pretty much everybody has lost to Aldo before. I think he's going to fight Cub Swanson and the winner of that will be next in line.
Ryan Gonzo (Columbus OH)
A lot is being made of the Dana White pulling a judge last weekend. People are saying it compromises the integrity of the sport. I'm on the other side. I thought it was a good move and it showed that Dana cares about getting things right.
Brett Okamoto (1:28 PM)
My take: At the end of the day, it was more or less a harmless move. But it sets a precedent you just can not set in MMA. You can't have the promoter directly involved with the officials like that. In a perfect world, the officials act completely independent from the promotion, even in a self-regulated event like last weekend. Removing an incompetent judge is a good thing for fighters, but quite honestly, Howard Hughes IS a competent judge, Dana acted on impulse and it was a bad look for the promotion. Either way, it'll never happen again.
Wait a minute. You like straight-up-steroid-using Bonnar, but can't say enough bad things about TRT-using Belfort?
Brett Okamoto (1:30 PM)
Obviously, I don't condone Bonnar's steroid use. And as I've mentioned in this chat before, I have nothing against Vitor Belfort. It might seem that way because I'm asked about his drug issues a lot and I give honest answers. When I say I like Bonnar, I've worked with him before, ran into him in Las Vegas, I'm halfway interested in what he does when he comes back.
How long until Forrest Griffin signs with Bellator?
Brett Okamoto (1:31 PM)
Haha. Never. The UFC was never opposed to giving Forrest another fight. He just medically could not fight anymore due to the injuries that had piled up.
Peter (New york)
Odds on Rumble Gus happening? If Cormier beats jones we are most likely looking at a rematch could leave gus on the table for 18 months+. Other option is Bader and don't see that being very competitive
Brett Okamoto (1:32 PM)
It's looking more and more likely, isn't it? Similar to the Machida/Rockhold situation, I would have thought the UFC would be a little hesitant to burn either Johnson or Gustafsson by having them fight each other ... especially Gus! If he loses to AJ, the UFC loses the potential of a Jones/Gus rematch, unless Jones loses to DC, and we know how much the UFC loved the Jones/Gus rematch. But in any case, it's good for fans to get the best fights and AJ/Gus is the fight in that division that makes sense. Feels like they're headed in that direction.
Can't wait for Cerrone-Alvarez! Who do you like and will winner get title shot next?
Brett Okamoto (1:33 PM)
I like Cerrone and winner ... might? get a title shot. Bendo losing last weekend opens the door wider for sure.
Ryan Gonzo (Avoiding work)
Last chat before the start of the NFL season. Whats your super bowl prediction? And how do you feel about the Browns chances to make the playoffs?
Brett Okamoto (1:35 PM)
Broncos out of the AFC ... and, there's no way this ends up being right, but have to say Seattle out of NFC. A Super Bowl rematch? No way, but they're pretty obviously the two best teams. I do not feel good about the Browns' chances to make the playoffs but that division is sort of open so fingers crossed. The Josh Gordon suspension is a legitimate tragedy.
Anthony (Portland, OR)
Ludwig recently described Dillashaw as a guy who picks up new techniques at an amazing rate. Mighty Mouse has been described the same way, and it's evident in each of their recent performances. Anyone else jump out at you as someone who's constantly evolving, improving and adding new wrinkles to his/her game?
Brett Okamoto (1:36 PM)
Honestly, yeah, the name that would come to my mind first in that regard is Demetrious Johnson. I would say Daniel Cormier fits in there, too.
Hey Brett, are you making it out to Halifax for the fight night card? I'm biased but it's a great city! Ask Breen and he will back me up!
Brett Okamoto (1:37 PM)
Probably not making it to that one, but I have heard good things. Maybe some day.
Who will be the first fighter to beat Jon Jones? I am going to go a bit out of the box and say Chris Weidman
Brett Okamoto (1:40 PM)
Well, let's create a list of the potential answers. It's pretty short: Daniel Cormier, Alexander Gustafsson, Anthony Johnson, Chris Weidman, Cain Velasquez LONGSHOTS: Junior dos Santos, Fabricio Werdum, Chris Weidman, Anderson Silva. I don't think Weidman will fight him any time soon because he has contenders in his division. I include Silva because let's say he smokes Diaz and says he has a dream of fighting Jones? Would the UFC do it? They might. Longshot though of course. The rest, you can see why they'd be on the list. I am sticking with Cain.
The Rockies & Dbax were killed by injuries this year. Do you think a fully healthy one of those squads challenges for the NL West top spot next year??
Brett Okamoto (1:40 PM)
I would sure like to think so Sean. But it's gotten hard to envision the Rockies doing anything positive lately. Might ben an interesting offseason.
Seems kind of easy to refer to a guy who wears a cowboy hat, has the nickname Cowboy, lives on a ranch, likes Nascar and country music a racist. Seems like Bobby Green played the race card to get a big name fight.
Brett Okamoto (1:43 PM)
I'm not really sure why Green said what he said. Maybe he's being completely truthful and described everything accurately from his perception, but I've been around Cerrone and I just don't see it going down the way Green described it. Green is must-see in the UFC's lightweight division right now, but I think he's still figuring it out when it comes to what he should and shouldn't say.
If the UFC books Gus vs Rumble, will Jones stop crying about contenders never fighting?
Brett Okamoto (1:43 PM)
Probably. But up to this point, I think that "crying" was justifiable.
Did you just see Ben Askren DESTROY Suzuki and win the belt? I'm sorry please answer my previous question, and GET THIS GUY IN THE UFC!
Brett Okamoto (1:45 PM)
I don't have the feed on right now because it slows the chat down, but BREAKING CHAT NEWS: Ben Askren beats down Suzuki in about a minute. This should shock no one.
Brett Okamoto (1:45 PM)
Victor Cui, ONE FC CEO, told me when he signed Askren he promised to find him legitimate challenges and that "one-sided fights aren't good for anyone." Hasn't delivered Ben a challenge as of yet.
Ryan Gonzo (Still not working)
In this weeks weigh in you said Castillo (and Saffiedine) was the most unsung fighter in MMA. How do you like his chances against an ever improving Ferguson this weekend?
Brett Okamoto (1:47 PM)
To illustrate the "unsung" point, I like Ferguson in the fight. Even though it's in Danny's hometown and it seems like he's peaking right now, Tony is a killer man. We think about his boxing but he's shown he can grapple too. I think he's close to the full package and just has a little more firepower than Castillo.
What are your thoughts on ring girls? Seems like a sexist practice to have women in bikinis walk around the ring holding up a number sign and I think it cheapens the event...
Brett Okamoto (1:48 PM)
Are you against cheerleaders then, too? I'm sure others would agree with you, but doesn't bother me personally.
Do you think Bjorn no longer being a part of Bellator will make the UFC pursue Askren now? It would just disappoint me if he never had a chance to prove whether he is one of the best or not.
Brett Okamoto (1:49 PM)
If the UFC pursues Askren after his ONE FC contract is done, it won't have much to do with Bjorn in my opinion. By then it will be because he's still (presumably) undefeated and people care about him. He's managing to stay relevant even though casual fans in the U.S. don't know what ONE FC is.
Marc (Chicago, IL)
I usually buy all of the UFC PPV's, if I am in town, but I can't seem to get excited for this card beyond the main event. So, why should I be excited? And what should the price of the PPV for this card be?
Brett Okamoto (1:51 PM)
Like I said last week, I'm not here to sell UFC PPVs and with this one, I wouldn't try. If you buy this PPV it's because of the main event and the main event only. No disrespect to anyone else on the card, but there are no draws here. Speaking personally, I loved the first fight. I thought T.J. confused Barao so much that Barao didn't even know what to throw anymore and that was incredibly shocking. Whether or not Barao can be better prepared for this one is a big question to me. But if you're not that into the rematch, then you're not into this card. It's as simple as that.
Marc (Chicago, IL)
Do you think Rousey-Carano or Rousey-Santos sells better?
Brett Okamoto (1:51 PM)
So to follow, there's no chance the UFC would pay ONE FC to acquire him?
Brett Okamoto (1:52 PM)
No, he hasn't blown up anywhere near the level it would take to make that a possibility and the UFC has plenty of 170-pound title fights to make right now.
Fats (Hollywood) [via mobile]
Now that Dana's buddy Coker is running Bellator, what's the over/under on Zuffa owning Bellator within two years?
Brett Okamoto (1:53 PM)
The "No" side of that bet is at -4 million. Coker is president of Bellator but it's still owned by Viacom and Viacom wants to be in the MMA business.
Do you think Rory is going to have to fight again before he gets his well deserved title shot, and who does he fight... Hector Lombard???
Brett Okamoto (1:54 PM)
I don't think so. The Hendricks/Lawler fight should be announced well before then. Timing should work out to have MacDonald wait. He's a guy who doesn't like to wait, but in that situation I think he would kind of have to. No one left for him to fight. Lombard is probably fighting Woodley.
Hey Brett. I am excited to hear the UFC is going to administer enhanced drug testing. Mainly just random blood tests during the fighters training will ensure no cheaters. Just seems that the fighters know the system too well and the cheaters can beat it. Do you think it will bring GSP back and what fighters do you think will have the most issues?
Brett Okamoto (1:56 PM)
Random blood tests in the UFC is a huge story and the UFC should be applauded for it if and when it happens. We are quick to criticize the promotion when it does wrong, we should be equally as quick to applaud it for a move like this. It's been a long time coming in combat sports in general. I do think it will bring GSP back and the fighters who will have the most issues? The dirty ones.
Eric R (Fort Worth, TX)
Amazing diff 1 fight can make in ppl's expectations. Now TJ expected to run shop over Barao which is complete 180 from last time. When Weidman beat Silva it seemed next fight ppl still expected Weidman to lose. Why do you think that is?
Brett Okamoto (1:57 PM)
Because T.J. schooled Barao for nearly 25 minutes. Weidman landed a left hook while Anderson was clowning with his hands down.
How does UFC 177 match up with the Fight Night event in Connecticut? I think the Fight Night is a much better card. What do you think?
Brett Okamoto (1:57 PM)
Main card vs. main card, I would agree Connecticut is better.
Sean, Monrovia, Ca [via mobile]
Hey brett, what do you think about the next tuf being Brock vs Mir leading up to ufc 200? Brock is must see tv and the fight kinda makes sense for both guys. Add the return of gsp and maybe 200 will be bigger than 100. Thanks
Brett Okamoto (2:00 PM)
The same heavyweight fight that headlined UFC 100, headlining UFC 200? Now that would be something. I have to disagree with you on Brock being must-see TV. The year he was on TUF was actually pretty BORING. Obviously, the UFC would hit the lottery if he ever came back. I still don't see it.
When Hendricks-Lawler 2 happens and if Lawler wins, do you think Hendricks gets an immediate rematch? Or will it not happen because of how stacked the welterweight division is?
Brett Okamoto (2:01 PM)
Tough to say not knowing how the fight goes, but in general I would say the UFC would move on and Hendricks would fight someone else. He hasn't defended the belt at all, so it wouldn't be a situation where some dominant champion lost after a long title run.
Tim (Fremantle (WA))
Anthony Johnson's people are now calling out Gus. Do you see this happening and when - hopefully the undercard of Jones / DC.only problem is if Gus loses he takes several steps back. Agree?
Brett Okamoto (2:03 PM)
Totally agree, you risk the rematch! Ever since the Jones/DC brawl though, the rematch has sort of become an afterthought it feels like. Throwing AJ/Gus on the Jones/DC undercard seems very likely, except AJ is ready to go now and the UFC is always in need of fights to fill up these cards. Putting a healthy AJ on the sidelines the rest of the year doesn't make a ton of sense, but maybe the payoff is worth it if he fights Gus on that Jones/DC card.
Andy (Gold Coast )
Hey Ok, I met Bert Watson in Sydney a few years ago and we were talking about boxing and the subject came to Manny and Floyd. He said that he thinks it will happen but the moment "will have passed". SI ran a story today saying 2015 is likely. Will people care and what do you see the result as being? I got Floyd on points.
Brett Okamoto (2:04 PM)
There is absolutely no question the moment has passed. It's depressing. People will still care though and I would also take Floyd on points. It's one of those things where literally I will watch it and just be angry the entire time it didn't happen years ago.
Marc Iveson UK [via mobile]
Dude my bet last weekend over two events was 7 for 7. All I needed was Benson to do what Benson does and win. $10 had me a return of $260. I feel like invoicing Benson! Probably won't though. Looking for some sympathy here my man .....
Brett Okamoto (2:05 PM)
Lifetime, my losing sports bets would fill a swimming pool. On to the next one brother.
Brett Okamoto (2:07 PM)
Gotta wrap there. Thanks for the questions guys. Spread the word about this chat, I would appreciate it. If I missed you, hit me on Twitter @bokamotoESPN and if you don't buy UFC 177 (or even if you do) join our live chat on Saturday at ESPN. We'll have live updates. See you next Friday, enjoy the weekend!