The UFC returned to Arizona on Saturday for UFC on FOX 29, which took place at Gila River Arena in Glendale and featured a four-fight main card capped off by a “Fight of the Year” contender in the lightweight headliner.
Justin Gaethje (18-2 MMA, 1-2 UFC) suffered his second consecutive loss after an 18-0 career start when he came out on the receiving end of a rough fourth-round TKO loss courtesy of streaking contender Dustin Poirier (22-6 MMA, 14-5 UFC).
After every event, fans wonder whom the losers will be matched up with next. And with another night of UFC action in the rearview mirror, it’s time to look forward, put on a pair of Sean Shelby and Mick Maynard’s shoes, and play UFC matchmaker for UFC on FOX 29’s losing fighters.
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Should fight: Juliana Lima
Why they should fight: Casey lived up to every bit of her tough-as-nails identity by giving an opponent with great name value – in this case Michelle Waterson – a tough fight for three rounds. Unfortunately, she came out on the wrong end of another close decision.
Despite performing well, Casey lost a split decision to Waterson. “Cast Iron” is now just 1-3 in her past four fights, but during that stretch she’s fought the best strawweight competition available. Casey is the type of fighter who jumps at challenges others don’t, but for the next one, taking a more winnable matchup might be in her best interest.
Lima (9-5 MMA, 3-4 UFC) has never been an easy assignment, but like Casey, she’s in a bit of a slump after being overmatched by some of her recent foes. A fight against Casey would present one side with an opportunity to get back on track.
Should fight: Magnus Cedenblad
Why they should fight: Vettori showed some grit in his split-decision loss to Israel Adesanya and proved there are flaws in the game of the heavily hyped middleweight up-and-comer.
It wasn’t the result he wanted, but Vettori should take no shame in his performance. He’s consistently proven to be no slouch, and that trait is likely going to keep Vettori on the roster for some time. He hasn’t won since June, though, and it would be wise to select his next fight carefully.
Cedenblad (14-5 MMA, 4-2 UFC) is going on 18 months since his most recent UFC appearance, which came in November 2016. If he decides to come back soon, his style and high rate of finishes would mesh well with Vettori, who has never been stopped inside the distance.
Should fight: Mike Perry
Why they should fight: Although it was a more decisive and brutal loss, Condit looked much better in his submission defeat to Alex Oliveira than he did in a decision loss to Neil Magny at UFC 219 in December.
Prior to the fight, Condit said being in “proximity to danger” brings out the best in him. He had flashes of brilliance in a wild welterweight encounter, but he ultimately got caught in a guillotine he couldn’t escape.
Condit has debated retirement in the past. With four straight losses, it’s possible that subject might come up again in the near future. It remains to be seen what Condit wants to do, but assuming he decides to continue his career, there are still plenty of fun action fights to be made for him.
One that sticks out would be against polarizing slugger Perry (11-3 MMA, 4-3 UFC). “Platinum” is on a bit of a skid himself with back-to-back losses, but a matchup with Condit would give him the opportunity to rebound against a notable name.
Should fight: James Vick
Why they should fight: Watch the video above to see why Gaethje should fight Vick (13-1 MMA, 9-1 UFC) next.
- Michelle Waterson can't wait to whip out UFC DVDs for her grandchildren
- UFC on FOX 29 post-event facts: Even in a loss, Justin Gaethje makes history
- Alex Oliveira: Carlos Condit went to sleep, woke back up before finish in UFC Glendale co-headliner
Source: USA Today – MMA Junkie
Read the full article here: Sean Shelby's Shoes: What's next for Justin Gaethje and UFC on FOX 29's other losing fighters?