After falling short in UFC debut, what’s next for Manel Kape?

Daniel Cunningham
SAITAMA, JAPAN – DECEMBER 31: Manel Kape enters the ring prior to the bout between Ulka Sasaki of Japan and Manel Kape of Angola during the RIZIN. 14 at Saitama Super Arena on December 31, 2018 in Saitama, Japan. (Photo by Etsuo Hara/Getty Images)

This past Saturday at UFC Vegas 18, Manel Kape (15-5) made his highly anticipated debut. Many in the fight world believe that Kape is one of the very best flyweights in the world and he had his opportunity to show that on Saturday.

Kape was thrown straight into the deep end as he took on Alexandre Pantoja (23-5) at UFC Vegas 18. Pantoja entered as the fifth ranked flyweight in the world and he’s been in there with the likes of Deiveson Figueiredo, Brandon Moreno, and Askar Askarov.

Kape did look well in spots on Saturday night. I was very impressed with the accuracy of his punches and his footwork. Whenever Kape would move forward and actually throw shots, he was getting the better of Pantoja. The major reason was the accuracy.

However, Kape’s activity level was extremely low compared to Pantoja at UFC Vegas 18. While Kape was connecting at a higher percentage, Pantoja was throwing nearly twice as many shots. Because of the activity level, Pantoja bagged the first two rounds on all three scorecards.

In the third round, Kape finally picked up his pace. He moved forward more and landed some good shots. Kape even landed a takedown in the final minute which earned him the round on two of the scorecards. However, the damage was already done and he lost his UFC debut by unanimous decision.

What’s next after UFC Vegas 18?

Despite the loss in his UFC debut, expect Kape to appear in the top ten at flyweight when the rankings come out tomorrow. I believe he is one of the very best in the world, however, he fought one of the best in the world and came up short.

In all honesty, I believe that Kape can easily win that fight if he just upped his activity. His accuracy and his shots were very crisp on Saturday, he just didn’t do enough. However, I’m still very high on him and don’t expect the UFC to lose faith.

With Kape taking virtually no damage, I would expect a decently quick turnaround for him. Depending on the health of both men, I think a great next fight for the UFC to make would be a matchup with Brandon Royval (12-5).

Royval is coming off of a loss at UFC 255 which proved to be a title eliminator. Prior to that, he had won four in a row and he’s currently ranked sixth in the division. Both men are going to be in the top ten and both are coming off losses. I think this is a perfect matchup and an entertaining one for the UFC to make.