This past weekend at UFC Vegas 18, we saw a big matchup in the flyweight division. The fifth ranked flyweight in the world, Alexandre Pantoja (23-5), welcomed former RIZIN champion, Manel Kape (15-5), to the UFC.
There was a ton of hype surrounding Kape and many were looking at him as a potential challenger for the title. However, the UFC gave him no layup in his first fight with him taking on the dangerous Pantoja.
Pantoja has been in there with some of the best in the UFC including the flyweight champion, Deiveson Figueiredo (20-1-1). The fight was promised to deliver and I have to say that it was a little underwhelming.
I was expecting more of a barnburner, but Kape’s cautious approach stalled the action at times. Pantoja didn’t land amazing shots at UFC Vegas 18, however, he was the much more active fighter on Saturday night.
For that reason, the judges unanimously gave the decision win to Alexandre Pantoja. While it wasn’t the sexiest win in the world, it was still a win at the end of the day and a big win at that.
What’s next after UFC Vegas 18?
After the fight was over, Pantoja stated that he wanted a rematch with the UFC’s flyweight champion. However, the odds of Pantoja fighting for the title in his next fight are slim to none.
Figueiredo will have his rematch against Brandon Moreno (18-5-2) next. After that fight, it’s been said that the winner will take on former UFC bantamweight champion, Cody Garbrandt (12-3). With that in mind, the title is booked for most of 2021.
Of course, that means Pantoja will need to take another fight. There are a couple of options for Pantoja out there. One option could be a matchup with Alex Perez (24-6). Perez is coming off of a title loss at UFC 255.
Another option could be the winner of the Joseph Benavidez – Askar Askarov matchup that takes place next month. However, I’m not sure that fight would get made should Askarov win considering Askerov just beat Pantoja in July.