Matchmaking Marlon Vera, Benoit Saint-Denis, other UFC 299 losers

Marlon Vera, Benoit Saint-Denis and other UFC 299 fighters suffered losses on Saturday night. Here's who we think these main card fighters should fight next to get back in the win column.

Sean O'Malley and Marlon Vera
Sean O'Malley and Marlon Vera / GIORGIO VIERA/GettyImages
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Benoit Saint-Denis vs. Dan Hooker

Heading into the fight, Saint-Denis had all the momentum in the world. He was coming off five straight stoppage wins, while Poirier was last seen on the floor after Justin Gaethje knocked him out with a clean head kick. A changing of the guard was expected, but obviously it failed to materialize.

Looking back, the highly-touted French prospect may have bitten off more than he could chew. He needs to temper his expectation for his next fight, and that starts with Dan Hooker.

The Kiwi is currently recuperating from a broken arm that cancelled a supposed December co-main clash with Bobby Green. Once he fully heals, he can gauge whether Saint-Denis still has "contender" written in him.

Marlon Vera vs. Umar Nurmagomedov

Vera's 2020 upset of O'Malley remains one of the most surprising results in MMA history, given the hype surrounding the future bantamweight champion at the time. However, a repeat performance was not to be, as he proved a step too many behind, failing to impress the judges enough to get even just a round.

He now has limited options for his next fight. He has lost to Song and Cory Sandhagen. Cejudo is coming off a loss. Rob Font is losing stock after two straight losses. So who is next for him?

Here is an interesting idea: Umar Nurmagomedov. The undefeated Russian prospect has been facing rejections from multiple top-10 contenders to the point that the matchmakers had to go outside the promotion to get him booked for last week's card, where he would win. He deserves a top name next, and Vera represents a massive opportunity for him.

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