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 analyst and former two-time title contender Kenny Florian to debate the latest news, including the possible doping violations surrounding two of the UFC's biggest names and a preview of Saturday's UFC Fight Night card in Chicago.
Florian: We've got to do something about getting these tests back in a more timely manner. For someone like Mark Hunt [Lesnar's opponent at UFC 200], a clean fighter, going out and fighting somebody who's maybe not clean -- it's a concern. Especially when you're talking about a massive man like Brock Lesnar. There's a danger there for Mark Hunt. And it's unfortunate for the WWE, who supposedly has testing regulations in place. You've got to wonder what exactly they're testing for over there, what kind of tests are in place for them, because Brock tested positive immediately in the UFC.
I see this as a big blow to the sport, but it's good in that it gets the fighters to see the USADA is doing its job. The testing [is] working, and it's going to scare a lot of athletes away from cheating.
Okamoto: Long term, I'm not sure it does all that much. People are in an uproar about it at the moment because you have two of the biggest stars in the sport facing sanctions for the same substance. Both were involved with UFC 200, a landmark event. It's not good for the sport's image -- again, at the moment.
Going back to the long term, I guess I've just come to the conclusion that fans (consumers) don't care about PED use. At least, they don't care when it comes to speaking with what really matters, their wallets. Lesnar testing positive for a banned substance won't stop fans from purchasing UFC 202 if they already planned on doing so.
As far as the WWE, you have to ask someone else. I know very little about the WWE and I don't mind keeping it that way. For the UFC, however, Lesnar's tests won't have a massive effect on its bottom line.
2. What do you make of Hunt's demand for Lesnar's $2.5 million UFC 200 purse?
Florian: Well, I mean, a contract is a contract. Despite that, yes, we'd love to live in that world where we can go back and say, "Yeah, because of this, Hunt deserves more." But he agreed to the fight, unfortunately, and I don't think that should happen at this point. There are no rules set in place where a fighter gets an opponent's purse.
I do think, though, there should be something where if a fighter gets penalized for testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs, it should be like missing weight. A certain percentage of Lesnar's purse should go to Hunt. I think Lesnar should have to pay Hunt, not the UFC. After all, it's Brock Lesnar's fault. I would like to see some kind of rule change: If a fighter tests positive, fights and gets paid -- some of that should go to his opponent.
Okamoto: I'm in favor of Kenny's proposal. If a fighter misses weight, he owes money to his opponent. I don't see any logical reason why this couldn't apply to PED use. That being said, it takes a rule change to implement this, and rule changes take time. So, I wouldn't expect to see this change adopted any time soon.
Hunt did sign up for this fight. He was well aware of the fact the UFC waived a "mandatory" four-month testing window for Lesnar. Hunt was willing to accept those circumstances. Does he deserve more money after Lesnar's tests came back positive? I think all fighters deserve more money, quite frankly. Do I see him touching that $2.5 million purse? Probably not.
3. The banned substance Jon Jones tested positive for on June 16 has been confirmed as an estrogen blocker. What is your reaction to this revelation?
Florian: It doesn't come at a good time for him. It seemed like he was turning his life around and then we hear this. And the fact these are estrogen blockers, something people use when they are coming off a performance-enhancing cycle -- it's tough.
Now, can legal supplements be tainted? Absolutely. Hopefully that was the case, but it's hard because I feel like that's the kind of the excuse you're taught to use. It's an excuse we've been hearing a lot and it's easy to go out and say that. How many times do we hear that excuse and go, "Oh well, all supplements are tainted." With the USADA overseeing this sport's testing, you have to know what's being put in your body. Fighters are losing out on huge paydays, millions of dollars. In the end, they have to make sure they're on top of it.
Okamoto: It's not good. It was never going to be good. Anything that's banned year-round, it's for a reason. This is a substance, as Kenny just mentioned, that is taken after a PED cycle.
I'm not sure why Jones didn't just come out and confirm this substance to begin with. Waiting for it to come out during a Nevada commission meeting means it's in headlines again. I think Jones missed an opportunity to break this news himself. Either way, the tainted supplement defense, if that's what Jones uses, has basically become the standard defense. The difference with Jones is that he comes with so much history and baggage attached. The public is quick to assume he's guilty and Jones has himself to blame for that.
Even in the event this was a tainted supplement, how does Jones, after all he has been through, allow that to happen? It's just bad for Jones, any way you look at it.
Florian: I'm not so sure. I think this is going to be a good indicator of how far Holly has come, as she has a big disadvantage in her grappling skills. I think Miesha Tate really exposed her on the ground, and learning Brazilian jiu-jitsu takes time. I think striking can be learned a little quicker than grappling because of the nature of the skill involved. It really is going to be tough for her to make up that time in the next couple years.
Holm has a tough fight against Shevchenko, and I could see Shevchenko winning. I think Amanda Nunes is also too much for her right now. Miesha was a tough matchup. If Ronda Rousey comes back, Holly matches up very well against her, but it's going to be tough to win the belt back. She definitely has work to do.
Okamoto: I'll say that she will. I see Kenny's points and I agree with them. I think if Holm does recapture the belt, it needs to happen relatively soon. Because her ground game is still such a work in progress, I think she'd have a hard time putting together one title run after another. She's 34, which isn't necessarily old but it's not young, either. If she's going to win back the title, I think it needs to happen within the next 24 months.
I like her chances, though. I think she matches up well with Shevchenko this weekend, and even though a potential fight against Nunes would be tough, you do still have Rousey in the mix. The UFC is going to want that rematch at some point. Whether Rousey would ever want it again is hard to say. It's a tough thing to predict but I'll say yeah, Holm wins the belt again before her career is over.
5. Is Bellator MMA welterweight knockout artist Michael Page legit?
Florian: He's a savage -- awesome striking and he's showing he also has submission skills. We're looking at a new style of striking, which has devastating effects. His movement, his length -- we're seeing a lot of karate-style fighters have a lot of success. You just don't see a lot of training partners move in that manner. [UFC welterweight] Stephen Thompson and Page, they are very unique and extremely dangerous.
I think "MVP" has the reach of Jon Jones or something crazy like that. I've been wanting to see him in the UFC for a while. I don't think he's experienced the same kind of wrestling in Bellator that is in the UFC, so it wouldn't be the smoothest transition for him. But I think he could crack the top 10 right now and give any of those guys a run for their money, for sure.
Okamoto: I don't know because Bellator won't give him a legitimate fight! That's not entirely Bellator's fault. Twice, Page has been booked to a fight against cagey veteran Fernando Gonzalez, and twice the fight has fallen through. That's bad luck, but at the same time, Page has now been with Bellator for more than two full years. He came in an unproven, exciting prospect with a lot of hype. What is he today? Kind of the same thing. After more than two years!
Let's go already. Book him a real fight. Bellator has some very fun welterweight options for Page. Exercise them.