The Octagon debut of Manel Kape will finally go down later tonight (Sat., Feb. 6, 2021) at UFC Vegas 18 live on ESPN+ from inside UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada, as the former Rizin Fighting Federation champion takes on flyweight contender Alexandre Pantoja in main card action.
Kape, 27, signed with the promotion in March of last year and wasn’t booked for his first UFC fight until December. That bout was supposed to take place against Pantoja at UFC Vegas 17 before the Brazilian veteran was forced to withdraw. Kape was then utilized as a backup for UFC 256’s Deiveson Figueiredo vs. Brandon Moreno flyweight title fight but was never needed.
Nearly one year removed from signing his UFC contract and Kape is finally ready for his debut. He’s an exciting addition to the flyweight division and a finisher who can make an immediate splash.
“I feel free. I feel free,” Kape told UFC.com. “It’s been a while, I’ve been training a lot — there were four camps that I did with no fight happening, so now that it’s finally happening, it’s an amazing feeling to be here, make my debut, and show the world what I’ve been doing.”
For those who are unaware of Kape’s career the former Rizin champ holds victories over the likes of Takeya Mizugaki, Ian McCall, and Kai Asakura. He has finished his 15 pro wins at a 93 percent clip and looks to carry that success over into the UFC.
“Fans can expect a master class, and a smart game,” said Kape. “I want to show and I want to prove that I’m the best fighter in the world.
“The fight will be like this,” he continued. “In the first round, I will pick him apart —make him frustrated, break his nose — and then in the second round, I will knock him out, easy; this will happen.”
If all goes well for Kape at UFC Vegas 18 he should be able to put his name on the short list of flyweight title contenders for 2021, especially if he becomes the first fighter to finish Pantoja.
“This year will be a blessed year for me,” said Kape. “Hopefully, by the end of the year, I have the belt. This is what I see, this is my goal, and this is what I’ve been working towards for such a long time.”
MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Vegas 18 fight card RIGHT HERE, starting with the ESPN+ preliminary card bouts at 5 p.m. ET, followed by the ESPN+ main card start time at 8 p.m. ET.