Each week, ESPN.com writer and MMA Live Extra analyst Brett Okamoto provides his take on the hottest topics in the world of mixed martial arts.
This week, Okamoto squares off with UFC women's bantamweight champion Miesha Tate to debate the latest news and trends. Tate (18-5), 29, captured her first UFC title with a dramatic fifth-round submission win against Holly Holm on March 5 at UFC 196.
Miesha Tate: From what I've heard, the UFC is still investigating. He said there was a fan yelling to him at a corner or something and he revved his engine to acknowledge the fan and that he wasn't drag racing -- that the cop pulled him over just for revving his engine. I don't know. I really don't know what happened but I hope it was a miscommunication. I think Jon Jones is an incredibly talented individual and I would hate to see him be his biggest obstacle. You never want to see that from anybody who has such incredible ability and talent. I'm hoping that's not the case.
Brett Okamoto: For his immediate future, it's very concerning. He's six months into an 18-month supervised probation sentence for last year's hit-and-run -- and he has already been arrested for a violation. If he's unsuccessful in getting it thrown out, he's looking at jail time. So, yeah. That's concerning. As far as the cause of the violation -- look, no one can say exactly what happened at that red light last week in Albuquerque, New Mexico, besides Jones and the officer who cited him for drag racing. We don't know what happened. Jones says he revved his engine for a fan and the cop pulled him over. On one hand, Jon! How about a wave?? A smile? Don't rev the engine of a car that, according to another citation, has a modified exhaust that probably makes it audible for several blocks. Not when you're on probation for a felony. On the other, revving an engine likely doesn't strike many of us as a legitimate probation violation, does it? Bottom line, I think you have to be concerned over Jones' immediate future. I think it's fair to be concerned over his long-term future -- but at the same time, I don't think this is necessarily proof the guy can't be a successful professional athlete. Ever-mounting evidence maybe, but not proof.
2. How many more times will Ronda Rousey fight before retiring from mixed martial arts?
Tate: One or two. I think one if she loses and two if she wins her comeback. That's the most she'll do. I just think her mind is elsewhere. I've heard her talk about wanting to be a mom -- that's not something that has crossed my mind. That's a big change in career path. Maybe she was already looking to retire. She was already talking about it, saying, "I want to retire undefeated." She was talking about it before she lost to Holly [Holm in November]. I think that was already in the works. Now, she has lost to Holly and is taking a year off. That's the other thing -- any time I lost a fight, I wanted to get back in there immediately. When I lost to Cat Zingano [April 2013], I freaked out. I literally freaked out. I was calling [UFC matchmaker Sean Shelby] every two seconds saying, "Get me in there now." They were actually putting together a fight against Liz Carmouche in Seattle three months later because I was losing it that much. And here's Ronda with a completely different mind-set, willing to sit an entire year. Makes me think where her objectives are.
Okamoto: I'd say Tate is spot on in this one. I believe Rousey will come back at least once. Should she lose that comeback fight, I guess I wouldn't expect her to try again. I'm assuming she'll put everything she has into this comeback. You consider where she was prior to the Holm loss and the way that fight went, her return to the Octagon will come under such a spotlight, with so much pressure and emotion -- it's hard for me to even fathom being at the center of that. If it doesn't go well, I'd imagine it would be very tough to make a second attempt at it. I'm capping my prediction at two. One if she loses her next fight.
3. UFC president Dana White said Holly Holm's manager made a massive mistake in allowing her to fight before a rematch against Rousey. Do you agree?
Tate: It depends what their objective was. Obviously, they thought they were going to beat me. I think the positive for Holly is she will learn from it and come back better. A mistake is something you regret to the point you wish you hadn't done it. I don't know if she considers it that. I've heard her management thought I was a tune-up fight and they were OK with taking it because they thought Holly was going to walk through me. If that was their mind-set, then I don't know, it probably was a mistake. I think from Holly's perspective, she wanted to fight and wanted to take on the best. She did what every champion should do. She lost and it's not the end of the world. So, it all depends which perspective you're looking at it from. From Dana White's perspective, yes, it was a mistake. From Holly's? Maybe not.
Okamoto: I really don't. Yes, a Holm-Rousey rematch is huge and represents a massive payday for Holm. But there was no answer as to when Rousey was coming back. There was some speculation early about a return in July, but ultimately it came out that Rousey needed more time. I cannot sit here and blame either Holm or her management for saying, "We just won the title, let's sit out and wait indefinitely for a rematch against the woman we just took the title from." Holm is 34. She made a nice payday for the fight against Tate (disclosed purse alone was $500,000). Personally, I like the fact she wanted to bet on herself, take on another contender and keep the division moving. And maybe I'm naive, but even with the loss to Tate, you're telling me that if the UFC booked a rematch between Holm and Rousey and promoted the heck out of it for six months, that fight still wouldn't break UFC financial records? I still think the rematch is very much there for Holm.
Tate: I think if "Cyborg" wins against Leslie, it's a catchweight fight at 140, I think you need a big, strong girl to match her up against. I think Holly [Holm] would present problems for her, because she's such a good striker and good at keeping range. I think Zingano would be a really interesting matchup -- someone who is a strong wrestler and grappler. Also, potentially Ronda -- but that goes back to I don't know where she's at after getting bombed by Holly. Is she going to be punch shy? There are so many questions about her, I'd want to see how she returns before she fights "Cyborg."
Okamoto: Stylistically, it has to be Holm, who is one of the very few in the division who could match up against Justino's size. As a former professional boxer, Holm's strength is obviously on the feet -- same as Justino. That's just an intriguing fight. Big picture, the No. 1 fight for Justino is still Rousey. Those two have gone back and forth for so long, a fight between them would absolutely still be relevant despite Rousey's loss. You can argue the fight never made sense to begin with and that they simply belong in different weight divisions, but I wouldn't completely agree with that. A 140-pound catchweight fight against Rousey is still the biggest matchup Justino could get.
Tate: I actually like Gadelha in the fight. I think she's very well-rounded. Their first fight [a split-decision win for Jedrzejczyk in December 2014] was very close. Joanna is amazing. It's nothing against Joanna. I just think Gadelha really has what it takes. If anyone is going to be able to defeat the champion, I think Claudia is the one to do it.
Okamoto: We've still got some time to ponder this one, but I'll stick with the champion. Gadelha seems to have improved on the feet since their first fight. Jedrzejczyk has improved her takedown defense. Perhaps Gadelha can drag her into deep waters in a five-round fight (their first meeting was only three rounds) and have her grappling take over late -- but I still think Jedrzejczyk is clearly the more dangerous striker and she's never short on confidence. This is one of, if not the, closest title fight matchups currently on the schedule, so it could go either way. For now, my pick is Jedrzejczyk.