Each week, ESPN.com MMA writer Brett Okamoto, ESPN Insider senior editor Mike Huang and a guest panelist tackle hot topics that are buzzing in the world of mixed martial arts.
This week, Bellator fighter/MMA legend Tito Ortiz joins the panel.
1. Was the Jon Jones-Daniel Cormier brawl hype or genuine?
Tito Ortiz: I mean, it looked real to me. A fight is a fight. If you want to get in someone's head, that's the best way to do it. Cormier stood his ground. I would have done the same thing, both ways, as Jones or Cormier. What we do is real. It's real competition and we're fighting for our lives pretty much. We're trying to hurt each other. You get two alpha males that want to be the best in the world and there you go. I was really surprised it happened, though. This usually doesn't happen.
Brett Okamoto: The brawl was real and so is the "grudge match" concept to the fight. Like most rivalries, I think it's based mostly on competition. Two guys who want to win and aren't going to forfeit any sort of mental advantage to the other before this big of a fight. Of course, I think they were aware of the fact they were giving fans a show and that might have added to it, but this wasn't some staged event.
Mike Huang: Yes, I think it is more hype. Although, let it be said that I do believe both fighters are out to prove a point: Jones to seemingly show just how inferior he believes Cormier's skills are, and Cormier to show Jones is not invulnerable. But both Jones and Cormier are loyal UFC company men and most likely understand the need for a big fight -- and PPV turnout -- from them.
2. Does the Jones-Cormier brawl happen if UFC president Dana White is there?
Ortiz: Maybe, maybe not. I wouldn't think so, but maybe -- I've seen it happen before. It just depends on the mentality both of them have with Dana White standing next to them ... It probably doesn't happen if he's there.
Okamoto: No way. No offense to UFC director of communications Dave Sholler, but he doesn't represent quite the same presence of White. No chance Jones shoves his boss as he did Sholler in pursuit of Cormier. This really was Jones and Cormier taking advantage of the babysitter while the parents were out. That brawl doesn't get off the ground if White is there.
Huang: Perhaps, but it really had little negative effect on the UFC. I would hazard a guess it attracted more . So in that sense would he have wanted to stop it?
3. Was the Jones-Cormier brawl good or bad for the UFC?
Ortiz: At the end of the day, I think it's good for the sport. That's just me. This goes back to Lennox Lewis and Mike Tyson. This goes back to me and Ken Shamrock. Me and Chuck Liddell. People tune in for this because they want to watch it. Everybody has an opinion. Why did Jones react like that? Is he afraid and overcompensated for it? This probably adds about 500,000 pay-per-view buys. The fight without this would have sold maybe 500,000. It will hit the 1 million mark now.
Okamoto: It was good for the UFC. You don't want it to happen often, but every now and then, this kind of thing injects a little fire into the sport. Rivalries are good for any sport. A bench-clearing brawl doesn't turn people off from baseball. Intentional elbows in the NBA are shown a million times in highlight packages between rivals. Again, you don't want too much of it, but the UFC ultimately benefits from this.
Huang: Certainly the UFC is not the WWE, but exchanges and staredowns happen in boxing all the time. I don't think it was the worst thing that could have happened for a sport that must contend with rampant PED use and other issues. Was it a black eye? Nah, maybe more of a small mouse on the cheekbone. Nothing that a little damage control can't heal.
4. Who has the worst nickname in MMA?
Ortiz: He fought in the UFC. His name was "The Barn Cat" [Tamdan McCrory] ... I laughed so hard the first time I saw it. I actually saw him on a lower promotion and he [easily defeated] the guy and then later I saw him in the UFC. It was hilarious. He was great.
Okamoto: Renan "Barao" (born Renan Pegado) has a nickname that comes from a Brazilian soap opera character, which is rather unintimidating. James Krause has a pretty bad one: James "The James Krause" Krause. In general, I'm against anything generic you would absolutely find in a create-your-own-character mode on a video game, such as "the Bully," "the Kid," "the Bad Boy," etc. Though I do like Anthony Pettis' use of the somewhat generic "Showtime." That one fits.
Huang: Being a comic book fan, I hate Jake Ellenberger's nickname -- "The Juggernaut." That character is humongous; however, Ellenberger is not. I just picture a runaway train with the nickname Juggernaut. Ellenberger is relentless, I'll give you that. But he's not big enough for it. It's as if he's wearing a suit five or six sizes too big for him.
5. Is the NSAC within its rights to fine Chael Sonnen for competing at Metamoris 4?
Ortiz: They can't do that. That can't be legal. Unless the suspension itself says "grappling tournament" or indicates specifically what competition [he cannot compete]. If he was suspended from mixed martial arts, I think it's illegal what the NSAC [Nevada State Athletic Commission] is doing and he has a great case. A grappling or wrestling match? We fighters could do that every weekend. You're not striking. You're not doing MMA.
Okamoto: I don't think so. Ultimately, we'll find out because Sonnen is going through with his appearance at Metamoris 4 in Los Angeles. The NSAC, apparently, is going to fine him and Sonnen, presumably, is going to appeal. I don't see how the NSAC can fine someone for competing in something it doesn't oversee within its own state. And if the NSAC didn't want Sonnen competing, it should have addressed that in his disciplinary hearing in July. Nobody left that meeting thinking Sonnen's suspension would apply to a grappling tournament -- myself included.
Huang: I don't think so. Sonnen has had his transgressions in MMA, and he looks as though he's trying to exploit a loophole. But whose fault is that? He'll be participating in a tournament that's not under the NSAC's jurisdiction.