When is Manel Kape's UFC debut, and who is he fighting?

Manel Kape (left); Alexandre Pantoja (right)
Manel Kape (left); Alexandre Pantoja (right)
Johny Payne

Manel Kape will make his UFC debut on February 6th, 2021, on the UFC Fight Night: Overeem vs. Volkov fight card.

Manel Kape – A young, aggressive, dangerous, and exciting former champion

Manel Kape is one of the most talented young fighters in the sport of MMA today. The 27-year-old Angolan MMA star impressively defeated Kai Asakura via second-round TKO at Rizin 20 – Saitama on December 31st, 2019. With this spectacular victory over Asakura, Kape captured the vacant Rizin bantamweight title.

However, Manel Kape hasn’t competed in a professional MMA fight ever since. With the COVID-19 global pandemic wreaking havoc across the world, Kape couldn’t compete in a professional MMA fight throughout the 2020 calendar year. Kape signed with the UFC last year (2020) and was initially supposed to make his UFC debut in the flyweight division in December 2020.

Manel Kape’s promotional debut matchup in the UFC, a fight against Alexandre Pantoja, was set for UFC Fight Night: Thompson vs. Neal on December 19th, 2020. Unfortunately, Pantoja withdrew from their fight in early December, reportedly to due issues related to COVID-19.

Following this, the UFC booked Manel Kape as a backup/replacement fighter for the UFC 256 main event – the UFC men’s flyweight title fight between champion Deiveson Figueiredo and Brandon Moreno. UFC 256 was scheduled for December 12th, 2020.

Not only was Manel Kape faced with the opportunity of potentially debuting a week earlier than he was initially supposed to, but was also incredibly close to fighting for a UFC title in his promotional debut.

Kape successfully made weight for UFC 256, weighing in at 124.5 pounds. He would’ve participated in the UFC flyweight title fight if either Figueiredo or Moreno had to pull out due to an injury or other issues.

Manel Kape’s tough first UFC opponent

The UFC 256 headlining fighters went on to successfully compete at the event, and Manel Kape’s services weren’t required in the octagon on December 12th, 2020.

The UFC subsequently rebooked the fight between Manel Kape and Alexandre Pantoja. The flyweight bout between Kape and Pantoja is now set to take place on the main card of UFC Fight Night: Overeem vs. Volkov on February 6th, 2021.

Pantoja (22-5) is coming off a unanimous decision loss to Askar Askarov, whom he faced in July 2020. Of Pantoja’s wins, eight came via KO/TKO, eight via submission, and six via decision. Meanwhile, all five of his losses have come via decision.

Manel Kape (15-4) has been praised by many for his penchant for pursuing the stoppage in every fight. Kape has secured a stoppage in all but one of his MMA wins – with nine wins via KO/TKO, five via submission, and one via decision. Furthermore, of his four MMA losses, two have come via submission and two via decision.

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Edited by James McGlade
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