UFC rebooks Manel Kape – Alexandre Pantoja

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)

The UFC has rebooked the flyweight debut of the former RIZIN 135 pound champion, Manel Kape (15-4). Combate was the first to report that the promotion is rebooking the matchup between Kape and Alexandre Pantoja (22-5) on February 6th.

The flyweight matchup was originally supposed to take place on the UFC Vegas 17 prelims. However, Pantoja had to pull out of the fight. As a result, the UFC shifted to having Kape serve as the UFC 256 backup for the main event.

Kape relished the opportunity saying that he would deliver a destructive performance if he got the chance to step in. Of course, there were no issues at UFC 256 so Kape’s debut would have to wait.

While it’s not the biggest mainstream move in the world, the Manel Kape signing was a big deal for the UFC‘s flyweight division. Kape is looked at as one of the very best in the world at 125 pounds.

The UFC’s flyweight division has really taken off this year. After flirting with extinction for a couple of years, the division appears to be here to stay and the UFC is investing a lot into developing the 125 pound division.

Big UFC test for Kape

While a lot of the attention will be on the UFC debut of Manel Kape, he’s not going to have an easy task on February 6th. Alexandre Pantoja will enter the octagon ranked fifth in the flyweight rankings.

One of the more powerful flyweights in the promotion, Pantoja has been in there with some of the best. Since May of 2018, the only losses that Pantoja has suffered include losses to Askar Askarov and the UFC flyweight champion, Deiveson Figueiredo.

It’s worth noting that Pantoja has two victories over top contender Brandon Moreno. Granted, one came on The Ultimate Fighter so it does not count towards Pantoja’s official record. However, you can see the level of fighter he is.

Giving Kape a fight like Pantoja shows you how serious the promotion is about him. On a lesser scale, this is similar to the UFC signing Michael Chandler. This flyweight matchup should be fireworks in early February.