Manel Kape’s UFC debut didn’t happen this year, but he’s set to make the walk to the octagon in 2021.
MMA Fighting confirmed with sources with knowledge of the booking that a previously postponed flyweight matchup between top contender Alexandre Pantoja (22-5) and former RIZIN 135-pound champion Manel Kape (15-4) has been rescheduled for a Feb. 6 UFC event.
The new date was first reported by Combate.
Pantoja and Kape were originally scheduled to fight on Dec. 19, the final UFC fight card of 2020, but Pantoja withdrew from the bout for undisclosed reasons earlier this month. That left Kape free to be designated as an alternate for UFC 256’s main event between flyweight champion Deiveson Figueiredo and Brandon Moreno, for which Kape successfully weighed in for. However, the bout between Figueiredo and Moreno proceeded without issue.
In Pantoja’s most recent fight this past July, he lost a unanimous decision to Askar Askarov. He is 6-3 in the UFC with notable wins over Moreno (twice, including a submission of Moreno in an exhibition bout on The Ultimate Fighter 24) and one-time UFC title challenger Wilson Reis.
Kape was previously seen competing at RIZIN’s 2019 year-end show, where he defeated Kai Asakura by second-round knockout to capture a vacant bantamweight title. He vacated that belt when he signed with the UFC in March. Kape’s UFC debut has been twice delayed as he was also set to fight Rogerio Bontorin at UFC 252 in August before Bontorin withdrew due to an ankle injury.