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)
Alright, good week to do a chat yeah? Two UFC events. Plenty of news, rumors, Diaz tweets running around. Should be a good one. Don't be shy, please ask questions, comment on my answers, tell me how intelligent/dumb I am. Let's get to it.
Tristan [via mobile]
2 part question.. how do you see Anthony Johnson fairing out against a guy like Daniel Cormier? And also. Who do you believe is the sleeper in the featherweight division?
Brett Okamoto (1:05 PM)
Man, I thought AJ was going to get beat pretty easily by Phil Davis. Not gonna lie. I was pretty confident about that one. Then he looked outstanding. DC is a different animal. I think he trusts his hands a lot more than Phil has ever trusted his and he sets up his takedowns, whereas Phil tends to sort of try and force them. I think DC would eat AJ up, but I've been wrong before. Sleeper featherweight ... I like Mirsad Bektic. If Aldo were to leave division, I think Mendes would rule it.
Chris [via mobile]
Hey Brett, assuming Robbie Lawler wins next weekend, who would you pick in the rematch of Hendricks vs Lawler 2?
Brett Okamoto (1:06 PM)
Hendricks. But it's a pretty close fight. If I had to guess on odds, I would think Johny would be no more than a -200 favorite.
Steve (Kimberley BC)
Hi Brett, Vitor has taken a lot of heat for his TRT use but the recent disclosure of Sonnen's drug testing results make Chael look like a walking drug lab in comparison. There seems to be a dramatic double standard at play. Why do you think that is and what will the consequences be for Sonnen?
Brett Okamoto (1:07 PM)
They both have taken heat for failed drug tests at this point, for very good reason. If anything, Chael has gotten the worst of it now, as the UFC has basically disowned him while meanwhile, Dana is talking about a Weidman/Belfort title fight (in Brazil!!!!). The consequences for Sonnen? I think NSAC will suspend him for a year. What is interesting is they might fine him too, for a test that took place before a fight. Typically don't see that.
Brett, I obviously suck at Google searching. How do i watch UFC Fight Night 46? I'm not seeing it on the Fox Sport Channels.
Brett Okamoto (1:08 PM)
Get yourself a Fight Pass account.
Hi Brett,I hope all is well sir! I'm interested in hearing your thoughts on Anthony "Rumble" Johnson and where you think he stands in the Light Heavyweight division? Is he a contender? He looked great against Phil Davis and I'm excited to see him against Rogerio Nogueira and watching that fight pan out next weekend!!
Brett Okamoto (1:09 PM)
I sort of answered this already, but to wrap it up, obviously Johnson showed a TON against Phil Davis. I'm still not completely sold on him as a title contender per se ... but I think he probably walks through Lil Nog at this point in their careers.
Nate from Israel [via mobile]
I heard Duffee was supposed to fight Travis Browne. Any truth to that and if not, what's next for DUFFEE????
Brett Okamoto (1:10 PM)
THE DUFF. He was expected to return by the end of the year. Haven't heard about the Travis Browne fight to be honest, but that would make sense. I'd love to see that fight ... but then again, I'd love to see Duff in any fight at this point.
Ed Belleville Mi [via mobile]
Since it looks likely the Lawler-Brown winner gets the next title shot, who should Rory fight next?
Brett Okamoto (1:12 PM)
I would have said the winner of the Lombard/Dong Hyun Kim fight, but now Woodley has replaced Lombard and obviously you can't run back Woodley/MacDonald. Maybe Rory waits. I know he said he didn't want to because he likes to remain active, but if Hendricks returns around October, you could have Rory fight again in ... March? I guess that is a pretty long layoff, but there's no one for him. If Kim beats Woodley, we'll probably see that Kim fight. I don't see Gunnar Nelson fighting Rory. Maybe I'm wrong, but don't see it.
Jack [via mobile]
I was thinking a little earlier about the jon Jones vs Alexander gustaffson fight, and to me, it wasn't as close as people say it was, bones dominated the 4th and 5th round, i think he's going to make a statement on September 27th...your thoughts?
Brett Okamoto (1:13 PM)
I've been saying for months I think Jones will decisively win this time, but I disagree with you the first fight wasn't close. That fight was very close. Gustafsson definitely won two rounds. If Jones doesn't land that spinning elbow late in the fourth, Gus wins that round, too. And that's the fight.
Jon (Long Island) [via mobile]
Brett, a stellar performance by Sterling on Wednesday. He's still young and will obviously have some ups and downs but what do you think his long term potential is? Serra- Longo is killing it here on LI.
Brett Okamoto (1:14 PM)
Aljamain is a beast, man. I've been on that bandwagon since the beginning. His debut was underwhelming but young guy, first time in the UFC, he gets a pass. I see shades of Michael Johnson in Sterling ... and if you know me, that's a big compliment!
garry (erie pa)
If the ufc signs gina carano who should she fight first?
Brett Okamoto (1:15 PM)
Rousey. Why not? Read today's "Weigh-in" panel, with myself, Michael Huang and Holly Holm. We all responded to that question. Here's the link ...http://espn.go.com/mma/story/_/id/11225279/conor-mcgregor-gina-carano-pound-pound-more
Vernon [via mobile]
So pumped for this fox card next weekend! I'm sure many are, my sleeper fight is Guida vs Dennis Burmudez, I'm saying right now Burmudez has all the tools to be a champion, your sleeper fight?
Brett Okamoto (1:17 PM)
I wouldn't go so far as to say he's got the tools to be a champion yet. That division is stacked and Bermudez lacks a bit in his top game once he gets guys down. He's powerful guy for that class though. Sleeper fight? Probably Daron Cruickshank vs. Jorge Masvidal in terms of action. Bermudez, Guida for sure. I kinda want to see how far Patrick Cummins can go now too, after the DC fiasco.
Kris [via mobile]
Guys like gleison tibau are so muscular they are borderline unnatural, but they also have to drug test and obviously can't take steroids. So how do fighters like tibau get so huge naturally?
Brett Okamoto (1:19 PM)
... This is a loaded question. I want to make it very clear I'm not accusing Tibau of taking performance-enhancing drugs, I just want to correct your take on it. Saying, 'he has to drug test so obviously can't take steroids' is inaccurate. The problem in MMA with drug testing is that most commissions have long performed only fight night tests, which are easy to pass. In 2014, we've seen a significant uptick in random, out-of-competition testing during training camps and we've seen a lot of these guys test positive. So, we can't really say with confidence so-and-so isn't on PED's because for a long time, commissions really haven't ran appropriate tests.
Eric R (San Diego)
Ayo Brett, longtime reader. Just thought of a hilarious question to ask you. What would happen if Rhonda Rousey fought Demetrious Johnson? Seriously. Would it be competitive? I think DJ's speed and movement would be too much, but Rousey has the size advantage. Could she get him on the ground and tap him out? Thanks
Brett Okamoto (1:22 PM)
This is a ridiculous question but ridiculous questions are always welcome in the chat. Change things up. DJ would dominate Rousey, I'm pretty confident of that. There is a big physiological difference between men and women. That's not sexist, it's fact. And beyond that, DJ's skills are far more advanced than Rousey's. Like, by a lot. Rousey is amazing in judo, but she's still learning other areas of her game. DJ is one of the most technical guys in the sport.
Blake (Greensboro, NC) [via mobile]
I think Cerrone would beat Pettis or Melendez. Thoughts?
Brett Okamoto (1:22 PM)
No ... Just, no.
Tooley (Kentucky) [via mobile]
What's up brett? After running through Miller, what's next for Cowboy? I would love to see him get a shot at the belt but that weight class is all bunched up
Brett Okamoto (1:23 PM)
It was Khabib, but Dana White revealed today that Khabib injured his knee. So, that's out. Cerrone just wants a dance partner as soon as possible. How long is Michael Johnson out? That's a fight. More likely, Josh Thomson vs. Bobby Green winner gets Cerrone next.
Andy [via mobile]
Cowboy going to fight 5x this year? He is on pace.
Brett Okamoto (1:24 PM)
Wouldn't doubt it.
Brett,Then to the second part of the Tibau question, are there guys who are able to get jacked naturally?
Brett Okamoto (1:24 PM)
Yeah, of course. I mean, that's not something that's specific to this sport, you can look anywhere. Some people are naturally jacked.
How long before Holm gets a title shot?
Brett Okamoto (1:25 PM)
The safe bet seems to be two wins for Holm and she gets a title shot. Depending on what happens in the division and if the UFC needs someone sooner than that, I think it could be one. Depends on what happens with Carano signing, Zingano comeback fight.
I read that Invicat and UFC can do talent sharing. After watching Pennington and Duke look bad, should the UFC consider sending them down to get more seasoning? Seems like Duke is regressing like she did in the Smith fight.
Brett Okamoto (1:26 PM)
Yeah, Duke has looked AWFUL in her last two fights. No other way of saying it. She has not improved since coming off the show. People know her, so yeah, Invicta seems like a likely landing spot.
What about Rory vs. Lombard or Rory vs. Saffiedine?
Brett Okamoto (1:27 PM)
I'm down to see Rory/Lombard, if Lombard gets healthy. Saffiedine is a terrific welterweight, but I don't think you can give him the No. 3 guy in the division when you look at how little he's done in the last 18 months.
Leo (West Valley Utah)
If Edson Barboza had a chin would he be a champ right now?
Brett Okamoto (1:27 PM)
Maybe not right now, but he'd be right there in the top 6-7 of the division I think. The chin problem is for real unfortunately, and it might hold him back.
If Gina takes on Rhonda next on the PPV, why not have Chuck Liddell come out of retirement to face Chris Weidman? Isn't it that same thing in that its a pure cash grab for the UFC?
Brett Okamoto (1:29 PM)
It's the same thing in that it's a pure cash grab, it's not the same thing in that Weidman has challenges. He has all kinds of good fights. Ronda is getting to the bottom of the barrel. I love the Zingano fight, if Cyborg can cut down in weight obviously have to do that, Holm doesn't have the ground skills but whatever yeah do that one, but there are a lot of ifs with those. It is a pure cash grab but in reality, is it any worse than seeing Ronda fight Alexis Davis? Davis was deserving, but we all knew she had no shot.
Guy (Aurora, Illinois)
Any idea who Anderson might face in his return bout? Bisping has been loudly saying he wants a crack at him for a long time now. I think he would get killed by Anderson, but I say give him a shot.
Brett Okamoto (1:30 PM)
If you've read this chat before you know I agree. Bisping has been in that division forever, never quite got to a title shot. Lost big fights to guys who are now going through drug problems (Chael, Wanderlei and Vitor). I'd love to see the UFC give Bisping that fight. If Nick Diaz comes back though, it's his.
Andy [via mobile]
You believe Mayweather does no who RR is? What a foolish thing to say.
Brett Okamoto (1:31 PM)
Mayweather knows who Ronda Rousey is. 100 percent.
Dan Hardy's Mohawk (Fight Pass Hell)
Buy/Sell - McGregor/Brandao lasts more than 2 rounds
Brett Okamoto (1:31 PM)
Hmmm, I'll sell. Conor does a great job of controlling his emotions but he's gonna be so jacked by the time the fight starts. I don't see much feeling out here.
Shaun (Chicago) [via mobile]
Why do think Daniel Cormier gets a pass as a wrestling heavy mma fighter while Ben Henderson takes so much flack? Isn't khabib about to head down that same path (btw, I find this exciting buts it's not mainstream friendly).
Brett Okamoto (1:33 PM)
Cormier doesn't have quite the track record of it yet ... Henderson had what, eight or nine decisions in a row to start his UFC career? And a lot of them were pretty high-profile fights, so we all noticed it. If Cormier were to go to decision another five straight times, you'd start to hear that about him.
Jeff (Alaska) [via mobile]
How could the UFC possibly put Belfort/Weidman in Brazil with a straight face give Belforts history?
Brett Okamoto (1:34 PM)
They kept Belfort in Brazil all of 2013, despite all the question marks about his TRT use. I literally asked Dana about taking Belfort to Nevada probably 10-12 times in person last year and he dismissed it. Said Belfort is a draw and, "We'll take Belfort to Nevada, it will happen." The UFC knows it's messed up, but they don't feel enough people would care to hurt the PPV number. Would be interesting to see if Weidman refused. That's the big one to watch here.
Is it a slippery slope for the new measuring stick for Ronda Rousey's opponents to be "will most likely last longer than 16 seconds?" Shouldn't we have a higher standard for her future competition?
Brett Okamoto (1:36 PM)
I mean, it would be nice to have a higher standard for her competition. But the realistic standard is about that -- Can this female get out of the first round with Ronda? The UFC is getting creative in trying to find her opponents. Zingano is legit. We all know Cyborg is legit if she's the same at that weight class. Other than that, expectations are gonna be very low for Rousey opponents. Not much you can do about it.
Tim (Brighton, MA)
Hey Brett,Is John Lineker the most un-Brazilian sounding Brazilian name in the sport? In seriousness, where's this guys ceiling? Looked phenomenal, and finally made weight. If he keeps looking like that, do you think he has a title caliber ceiling?
Brett Okamoto (1:37 PM)
Here's my take on Lineker, he was absolutely awesome to watch the other night. Great chin, throws to the body, bad intentions on all his punches ... but when he fights the best flyweights in the division, those guys are going to play matador with Lineker. I don't think he'll ever seriously compete for a title shot there. He did keep up a really high pace on Wednesday though, that was impressive.
Dana White said R.R. could walk down the street in vegas and beat up anyone walking that street. Does he really believe this? If so does he get tested along with the fighters?
Brett Okamoto (1:38 PM)
He's a promoter, trying to make a point. That's all that is.
Who is next champion to lose their belt? I am going TJ losing to Barao.
Brett Okamoto (1:39 PM)
Maybe. Can't wait to see the odds on that fight. My non-gambling friends here, sorry, you probably won't be interested in this. But if you're an oddsmaker, what in the world do you do with T.J.-Barao II? Are you really going to set a line with TJ the favorite, after he was a NINE TO ONE UNDERDOG TWO MONTHS AGO?? But then again, are you really going to make Barao a favorite after that complete whooping he took? That is a pickle.
Which Champion do you think will be dethroned next?
Brett Okamoto (1:40 PM)
I realize I didn't answer the original question ... Yeah, TJ isn't a bad bet. That's a tough fight to call at this point. Did Barao just take him lightly and have an off-night? Is TJ just built to handle Barao? Beyond that ... I think Mendes has a solid shot against Aldo. Melendez could beat Pettis.
Alberto (Anaheim) [via mobile]
Who is Chris Cariaso?? I joke. Seriously though, why that fight for DJ? I'd much rather see Makovsky get the next shot. At this point though, Lineker had a great showing, and we still have Picket/McCall on deck. Why is the UFC rushing to fill a PPV with lackluster matchups?
Brett Okamoto (1:41 PM)
I honestly don't have a good answer to this. Maybe since they decided to throw it on as a co-main in Sacramento, they figured they wouldn't burn a halfway sellable contender. I got nothing though. Don't know the answer to that one.
Joe Proctor's Hematoma (Massachusetts)
Why Lauzon/Chisea? I like both fighters but isn't Lauzon a step or two above Chisea's level?
Brett Okamoto (1:43 PM)
When you just conjure up images of the two, yeah. Lauzon is out of Chiesa's league. But go look at the records and Lauzon hasn't been killing it lately. He's fought much tougher competition for sure, but he's 2-3 in his last five. Hasn't had a win streak since 2011. If this is considered an "easy" fight for Lauzon (which btw I don't think it's quite that), I'm not sure that's a big deal because he's kind of in need of an easy fight.
Brandao will KO McGregor tomorrow. Bye bye hype train...
Brett Okamoto (1:44 PM)
I would be a little surprised, but not shocked. Like I said earlier, McGregor is a smart fighter but you can't prepare yourself for the welcome and the emotions he's gonna get on Saturday. He drops his hands a bit, makes a mistake, Diego can lay him out for sure. We'll see.
I know 177 has two championship fights but that card needs 1 or 2 more big fights right? As it is now, the under card is kind of weak.
Brett Okamoto (1:46 PM)
They wanted Faber, obviously, in Sacramento. Him out with a rib injury hurts. I kind of figured Joseph Benavidez vs. Dustin Ortiz on that card was a no-brainer, but Joe wrote on Twitter he was looking for an opponent so maybe Ortiz said he didn't want to turn around that fast (fought earlier this month). Two title fights is solid enough I guess, even if the flyweight fight is a weird one.
Alberto (Anaheim) [via mobile]
Since Rory/Gunni seems like a stretch; why not give Gunni the winner of Thatch/Mien? Assuming he wins, which I believe he will. What do you think? I dig it!
Brett Okamoto (1:46 PM)
Sign me up.
Any inside info on the Alpha Male/Ludwig thing? I get the feeling Ludwig would LOVE to corner TJ in a future fight against Faber.
Brett Okamoto (1:48 PM)
Yeah, without going into too much gory detail here, Faber and Ludwig have had a falling out. That is no secret. Simply put, it was business stuff. You get two guys who are really good at what they do, who place a certain value on what they do, these things happen. If a Faber/TJ fight ever happens, we'll have a soap opera before hand. Not gonna lie, it would be kinda fun.
Bisping? Bisping would get destroyed by Silva! Zero interest.
Brett Okamoto (1:49 PM)
You're mean Miggy. Give Bisping the fight as a going-away present. His career is probably about done.
Really looking forward to Souza vs. Gegard. Who do you like in that fight?
Brett Okamoto (1:50 PM)
I pretty much like Jacare in any fight right now. Good fight though, I just don't think that finesse sort of style of Gegard is going to hold up against an unleashed animal like Jacare, you know? I don't think you can navigate through all the danger Jacare brings and pick him apart on the feet like Gegard is going to try and do.
Emmanuel (Guadalajara. Mex)
Hello, my question, apart from Cain , who do you think could beat Junior Dos Santos, i'm thinking maybe Bones Jones but can't come up with anybody else, you???
Brett Okamoto (1:52 PM)
Junior just really disappointed in that rematch against Cain. And even though Cain is pretty much the only guy who could do that to JDS, you got the feeling of, man, JDS is not improving. He doesn't adjust. If someone can give him a tough fight and confuse him out there, he's pretty much done unless he lands one of his big punches. So, I would definitely give Werdum a shot, because Werdum comes in with a plan and he executes. Other than that though, no one really.
Gus's chance against Jones this time around?
Brett Okamoto (1:53 PM)
Oddsmakers have Jones only a -270 favorite this time around, much different than last. Gus has got a shot, but I'm taking Jones.
Do fighters get anything from PPV revenue? I'm thinking Diaz would more than love to return against Silva if he got a piece, but then it opens himself up to going back into "retirement" after that fight. I know you don't care either way. lol
Brett Okamoto (1:54 PM)
Why wouldn't I care? I'd love to see Nick Diaz back. I'd love to see him get serious about trying to win a UFC title. Answer to your question is yes, certain fighters get PPV revenue. Not all. Mostly, it goes to champions, but some big names get it regardless. Not sure if Diaz worked that into his contract when he came over from Strikeforce or not ... you would think he would have if his reps were good.
Can anyone in his division defeat Weidman? Man, he erased any doubts after Machida fight. Maybe someone from outside the division needs to move up/down?
Brett Okamoto (1:55 PM)
Not to that point yet. Jacare is a threat. Rockhold is a threat (although I would pick Weidman all day in that fight). Vitor is sort of a threat, but I think Weidman handles him. Weidman has established himself as the best but he's not unbeatable by any means.
When does Verdum fight Cain? I was surprised by his striking against Travis. Do you think his chances have increased significantly or slightly when the fight takes place?
Brett Okamoto (1:56 PM)
That fight will be in November. No, I still like Cain to dominate. Werdum has always had soooooo much confidence in his guard that I don't think he'll fight the takedowns like they are life and death. Cain will get him down and rough him up.
I hate Diaz brother questions, but why doesn't UFC just cut both of them to get rid of the headache?
Brett Okamoto (1:56 PM)
And hand them over to a rival promotion? No way.
When is DC's projected return? Did you see his last wrestling match at the EXPO?
Brett Okamoto (1:57 PM)
Didn't catch it live. Watched some of it online. He's waiting for the winner of Jones/Gus, healing up. You would think that could be sometime in February, March timeframe.
I'm putting my house on Bones. Talk me out of it....
Brett Okamoto (1:57 PM)
Crazier things have happened and you need a house.
Speaking of Diaz, if both brothers were back, would you be interested in seeing Nate fight Cowboy again considering the tear Cowboy is on now?
Brett Okamoto (1:58 PM)
Yeah, kinda. I think there are better fights out there for both guys but I'd watch a rematch. Would pick Nate to win.
Sorry if this has been addressed, but when is Hendricks fighting? Seems like he's not receiving any backlash because it's an injury, but I know GSP got a ton of hate due to his inactivity while champ. If you've got the belt, then fight, or relinquish it.
Brett Okamoto (1:59 PM)
Hendricks definitely gets a pass. He fought Lawler with a torn bicep. That's pretty gangster. That was the biggest fight of his career and he took it injured. He's said October is a realistic timeframe. I saw him in Vegas week of UFC 175. He looked like he weighed about 250 pounds but other than that, said his recovery was going well.
Old Yeller (Miami)
Does Cain have the best cardio in the UFC, or is it that nobody has really pushed him beyond it? The dude is soooooooooooo aggressive and nonstop.
Brett Okamoto (2:00 PM)
I don't know if he has the best cardio in the UFC, but he has the best cardio relative to his division. You know what I'm saying? Realistically, a bunch of flyweights probably have better cardio than Cain if you were to scientifically test such a thing, but Cain's is head and shoulders above all other heavyweights.
Speaking with BJ, is he knowledgeable enough about the sport (no offense) to get involved in commentating, or maybe being a trainer?
Brett Okamoto (2:01 PM)
Yeah, he could do either if he wanted.
Leo (West Valley Utah)
With all the beef and drama. Are highly motivated Barao and Aldo going to dominate their rematches?
Brett Okamoto (2:02 PM)
I would say no. Both fights are close to me. Oh, and I just saw lines have been posted for Barao/Dillashaw II. Dillashaw is a -165 favorite. So, if you thought something was secretly wrong with Barao or he just had an off-night, whatever, there's a bet out there for you.
Brett Okamoto (2:03 PM)
Alright guys, gonna wrap there. Thanks for the great chat. Appreciate it. Spread the word, tell your peeps (family, friends, random strangers) about this chat. Every Friday at 1 pm ET. Hit me on Twitter anytime @bokamotoESPN. Meet you back here in seven days to talk that Lawler/Brown fight and whatever else happens in the meantime. Later!