UFC Vegas 21 Preview: Manel Kape – Matheus Nicolau

Tomorrow night at UFC Vegas 21, we are going to see an entertaining scrap in the flyweight division. Former RIZIN champion, Manel Kape (15-5), gets a quick turnaround as he takes on the returning Matheus Nicolau (15-2-1).

Kape made his UFC debut just over a month ago against Alexandre Pantoja. There was a lot of hype surrounding Kape and people considered him to be a threat in the division. However, the first fight failed to live up to the hype.

Kape seemed extremely gun shy in the matchup against Pantoja. Now, I will say that Pantoja is one of the more dangerous fighters at 125. He has incredible power and he’s very good on the ground. For those reasons, Kape was extremely cautious which led to a lack of activity.

As a result, Kape lost his UFC debut. That loss snapped his three-fight win streak that brought him to the promotion. He stayed in Vegas after the loss and stayed ready for an opportunity and he got one.

Matheus Nicolau’s original opponent fell out and Kape stepped in for the challenge. Nicolau will be making his return to the UFC tomorrow night. In his first run, Nicolau went 3-1, then he was cut by the promotion.

He was cut during the same wave as Brandon Moreno when many thought the flyweight division was toast. Nicolau got two wins outside of the octagon and now the UFC has brought him back into the fold. He’s looking to make it three-straight wins tomorrow night.

UFC Vegas 21 Prediction

At UFC Vegas 21, I’m expecting more action from Manel Kape than we saw in his debut. Matheus Nicolau is not going to be the fighter who is going to be shooting for takedowns. But, his power is something to be cautious about.

I’m expecting this to be a war on the feet tomorrow night. Kape has incredible boxing and he’s very fast when he does throw his hands. He also possesses good kicks, however, he usually favors striking with his hands.

Nicolau also has very good striking. He also possesses incredible power with his hands and his kicks. One thing I like from Nicolau is his calf kicks which I think could play a huge factor if Kape is too heavy on that front foot tomorrow.

For my UFC Vegas 21 prediction, I’m going to lean towards Manel Kape to get it done. This fight is going to be incredibly entertaining, however, I like the speed of Kape and his striking defense. I also like that he’s been active and is fresh while this is Nicolau’s first fight since August of 2019.

Prediction: Manel Kape by Unanimous Decision

What’s next for Alexandre Pantoja after big win at UFC Vegas 18?

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.

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

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.

Alexandre Pantoja spoils the debut of Manel Kape at UFC Vegas 18

One of the fights I was looking forward to the most at UFC Vegas 18 was the featured flyweight contest. Former RIZIN champion, Manel Kape (15-4), was making his debut with the promotion against the dangerous Alexandre Pantoja (22-5).

Kape got the Michael Chandler treatment from the UFC which tells you what the promotion thinks of him. Back at UFC 256, Manel Kape weighed in as the backup to the UFC flyweight title fight.

Of course, he didn’t actually compete, but the promotion was comfortable putting him in that spot. The UFC was giving Kape a big challenge in his debut with the promotion. Outside of the champion, Pantoja might be the most intimidating flyweight in the UFC.

Pantoja made the walk this evening as the fifth ranked flyweight in the UFC. If you include The Ultimate Fighter, Pantoja holds two victories over the top contender in the division, Brandon Moreno. He’s one of the best and he is the best opponent to welcome Manel Kape.

UFC Vegas 18 Recap

Round 1

The highly anticipated UFC flyweight contest started with a touch of the gloves. Pantoja was immediately looking to pressure Kape. Kape remained composed while looking for his openings early on.

Pantoja was really pressuring Kape early and threw a couple of powerful kicks. Kape was circling the outside as he ate a vicious body kick from Pantoja. Then Kape was able to land his first shot of the night with a good left hand.

Pantoja blitzed in and both man landed. Kape landed a stiff jab, but Pantoja countered with a brutal leg kick. The leg kicks were adding up for Pantoja. Both men then exchanged leg kicks as we passed the halfway point in the round.

Kape stepped forward but Pantoja landed a couple of clean shots on him. Pantoja was much more active in the first, but Kape was landing at a high percentage when he did throw. A couple of stiff jabs landed for Manel Kape.

Kape looked for a lead uppercut, but Pantoja countered with a good body kick. A cartwheel kick attempt from Kape found him on the ground. The first UFC round is complete for Manel Kape, but it’s a losing one in my opinion.

Round 2

The UFC flyweights started exchanging right away to open the second round. It was again Pantoja leading the striking with his kick. Kape was seeming more aggressive, but Pantoja was landing the cleaner shots in the opening minute.

Pantoja landed another good leg kick and then followed with a body kick. Kape was much more accurate with his striking, however, the volume from Pantoja was much higher. Both men then exchanged stiff shots that snapped their heads back.

Kape then landed a couple of clean shots that backed Pantoja up. Manel Kape was looking more confident halfway through the second. Pantoja then landed a clean combination that snapped the head back of Manel Kape.

A couple of body kicks landed again for Pantoja. Entering the final minute and it was still Pantoja leading the striking. 30 seconds left in the round and Kape was able to land a brief takedown, but Pantoja got right back to his feet. I have it 2-0 Pantoja at UFC Vegas 18.

Round 3

Entering the final round of his UFC debut and I believe Manel Kape needed a finish. Both men embrace before the action starts in the final round. Kape opened the striking with a nice straight left hand.

Pantoja seemed much less active in the final round. Kape steps forward with a nice uppercut, but Pantoja countered with a body kick. A nice calf kick and follow-up left lands for Manel Kape.

Pantoja then lands a stiff left cross. Another nice body kick lands for Pantoja before he pushes forward for an exchange. Kape lands another nice left, but Pantoja threw a couple of big shots on the counter including a big headkick.

There just wasn’t nearly enough activity from Manel Kape in this one. Kape was pressuring with 90 seconds left, but he wasn’t throwing. Another body kick for Pantoja lands. Entering the final minute, Kape really needs to pick it up.

Kape steps forward with a couple of stiff 1-2s. For a moment it appeared that Kape hurt Pantoja, but Pantoja countered with a big shot of his own. 20 seconds left in the round and Kape lands a takedown. The round closes and I’ll give that round to Manel Kape. However, I think Pantoja spoils the UFC debut here.

Alexandre Pantoja def. Manel Kape by Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)

UFC Vegas 18 Preview: Alexandre Pantoja – Manel Kape

In all honesty, the one fight that I’m looking forward to the most at UFC Vegas 18 is this matchup. This is a massive flyweight fight between Alexandre Pantoja (22-5) and Manel Kape (15-4). Kape will be making his highly anticipated debut with the UFC.

Manel Kape officially arrives tomorrow after signing with the UFC last year. While many in the fight world were excited about the signing of Michael Chandler, Manel Kape was another massive signing for the promotion in 2020 that didn’t garner as much attention.

The UFC gave Kape the same treatment that they did Chandler. Kape’s first real appearance for the promotion was being the backup for the title fight back at UFC 256. The former RIZIN champion is riding a three-fight winning streak into his debut.

Kape is going to have his hands full with his first opponent. Alexandre Pantoja is a very dangerous contender at 125 pounds. Outside of the champion, he might have the most power in the division.

If you count Pantoja’s stint on The Ultimate Fighter, Pantoja holds two victories over top contender, Brandon Moreno. He went toe-to-toe with Deiveson Figueiredo and tagged the champion multiple times in their fight. He’s earned his ranking inside the UFC‘s top five.

UFC Vegas 18 Prediction

This matchup is going to be so much fun. These are two of the most powerful guys at 125 pounds and neither man has ever been finished by strikes. While both have incredible power, I don’t know if that stat changes at UFC Vegas 18.

Manel Kape has incredible footwork and very good boxing. Pantoja has incredible all around striking and he possesses very good skills on the ground. For the most part, I think we are going to see a standup war between these two flyweights.

I’m torn on this one to be honest. We’ve seen Pantoja perform at a high level against UFC competition whereas Kape is somewhat unproven. However, I really like the footwork and pure boxing skills of Manel Kape in this matchup. Call me a believer of the hype, but I think Kape gets it done in a war tomorrow.

Prediction: Manel Kape by Unanimous Decision

UFC: State of the men’s flyweight division entering 2021

2020 was a transition year for the UFC‘s flyweight division. When the year got started, Henry Cejudo (16-2) had just vacated the flyweight title. The promotion setup a fight in February to crown a new champion after Cejudo moved to bantamweight.

That fight put Deiveson Figueiredo (20-1-1) against Joseph Benavidez (28-7). Benavidez was always looked at as one of the best fighters in the UFC, but he just could never quite climb the mountain to become a champion.

Many believed that February would be his best chance. However, Figueiredo proved to be too much for Benavidez. Benavidez was completely dominated and stopped in the second round by Figueiredo.

However, Figueiredo missed weight so he didn’t capture the title. The UFC decided to have the two men run things back on Fight Island. This time, Figueiredo made weight and he ended up finishing Benavidez quicker than he did the first time.

Figueiredo has become a star in the UFC‘s flyweight division. After he choked out Benavidez, he defended his title against Alex Perez (24-6) at UFC 255. Figueiredo forced Perez to tap within the first two minutes of the fight.

With taking such little damage, the UFC turned Figueiredo right around to fight Brandon Moreno (18-5-2) at UFC 256. The two men had a war and the fight was ultimately ruled a majority draw.

UFC flyweight in 2021

Dana White said shortly after UFC 256 that the promotion would have Figueiredo and Moreno run things back. The fight was a fight of the year candidate and with no winner declared, he said it make sense to do the rematch.

With that, the odd man out becomes Cody Garbrandt (12-3). The former UFC bantamweight champion decided to drop to flyweight to pursue another title. He was originally supposed to get the title shot at UFC 255.

However, he had to pull out of the fight. He was hoping to face the Figueiredo – Moreno winner in March, however, that’s not likely now. Garbrandt and his team have discussed taking an interim fight at bantamweight while he waits, but that’s not settled.

A very compelling matchup to watch at flyweight is Manel Kape (15-4) and Alexandre Pantoja (22-5). Kape is the former RIZIN champion at 135 pounds and he will be making his UFC debut against Pantoja on February 6th.

Whoever wins that fight will be in excellent position in the flyweight division. Another matchup to watch is Benavidez taking on Askar Askarov (12-0-1). Askarov trains under Khabib Nurmagomedov and he looks like he can be a future champion.

At one point, the UFC’s flyweight division looked like it was going to be closed for business. However, business is booming at the moment with a number of intriguing matchups. Should be a fun year for the promotion at 125 pounds.

UFC rebooks Manel Kape – Alexandre Pantoja

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.

UFC: What’s next for Cody Garbrandt?

Former UFC bantamweight champion, Cody Garbrandt (12-3), is still waiting to make his debut in the flyweight division. The former champion made a successful return to the octagon in June when he knocked out Ralphael Assuncao.

That fight took place at bantamweight, but it was announced shortly after that Garbrandt would be dropping down to flyweight. After Deiveson Figueiredo won the flyweight title in July, the UFC booked the two up for a title fight.

Originally, Garbrandt was set to face Figueiredo at UFC 255 in November. However, Garbrandt tore his bicep and he’s been dealing with lengthy symptoms from COVID. As a result, Alex Perez got the shot against Figueiredo.

Of course, Figueiredo was able to win by first round submission. The champion quickly turned around to fight Brandon Moreno at UFC 256. The two had a fight of the year candidate that resulted in a draw.

After the fight was over, Dana White announced that the UFC would be booking the rematch between the two. Garbrandt said on Twitter that he’d be ready to fight by March. However, it now appears that he won’t be getting a title shot next.

What does the UFC do with Garbrandt?

If Cody Garbrandt wants a UFC flyweight title shot in his divisional debut, he’s going to be waiting a while. After the war that Figueiredo and Moreno had at UFC 256, I think it’s safe to say that fight won’t happen until April or May.

With that timeline, Garbrandt would have to sit out over a year in between fights. I think the smart thing would be for him to take a fight at flyweight in the meantime. He’s never fought at 125 so taking a fight would allow him to go through the process and get his feet wet.

There are a couple of fights that would be fun for Garbrandt in the UFC‘s flyweight division. One fight that I would personally love to see is Garbrandt against Manel Kape (15-4). Kape was the backup at UFC 256 after his fight with Alexandre Pantoja fell through.

Kape is one of the best in the world at 125 pounds. A fight between those two would be a lot of fun. The UFC could also pair Garbrandt against Alex Perez (24-6) who just lost in the title fight at UFC 255.

No matter what they decide to do, I think the promotion needs to give Garbrandt a flyweight fight. Let him make the weight and get a win in the division as opposed to shelving him and waiting for the title shot.

Manel Kape to serve as UFC 256 backup

For the second time this year, a UFC newcomer is going to serve as the backup for a title fight. Per Mike Heck of MMA Fighting, the promotion has decided to make Manel Kape (15-4) the backup fighter for next weekend’s UFC 256 flyweight title fight.

The UFC flyweight title fight pairs the top contender, Brandon Moreno, against champion, Deiveson Figueiredo. Kape was originally supposed to fight at UFC Vegas 17 on December 19th.

The promotion paired him against top five contender, Alexandre Pantoja. There is a ton of hype surrounding the UFC flyweight debut of Manel Kape. While not quite as big, it’s very similar to the Michael Chandler situation.

Kape is widely considered one of the best flyweights in the world, and obviously the UFC agrees. They were throwing him right into a fight with a guy in the top five. However, Pantoja tested positive for COVID-19 and the fight was cancelled.

There is talk that the promotion will look to rebook that fight in either February or March. However, the promotion wanted Kape to stay in Vegas and keep cutting weight. They decided to make Kape the backup just to ensure that the cursed UFC 256 card has a fallback option.

Year of the UFC backup

As mentioned above, this is the second time this year that a UFC newcomer will serve as a backup. Back in October, Michael Chandler was brought in to the be the backup for UFC 254 which featured the title fight between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Justin Gaethje.

Chandler flew to Fight Island and made weight for the contest. While the Khabib – Gaethje fight went through, Chandler was ready to go just to be safe. Dana White admitted a couple of weeks ago he’s slightly nervous about the weight cuts for the flyweights next weekend.

Both men just fought at UFC 255 and Figueiredo usually struggles to make 125 pounds. Well, the promotion decided to instill a backup option just to cover their bases. While we hope the main event happens as planned, Kape is a very solid fallback option if things go south.

UFC: Manel Kape – Alexandre Pantoja is off

Next weekend’s UFC Vegas 17 card is one of the more stacked fight night cards in recent memory. However, the card has taken some hits. Earlier this week, a positive COVID test from Leon Edwards scratched the main event against Khamzat Chimaev.

That fight is looking like it will be rebooked in January or February. Now, today we found out that UFC Vegas 17 is losing another fight. MMA Fighting was first to report that the flyweight contest between Manel Kape (15-4) and Alexandre Pantoja (22-5) has been called off.

Pantoja reportedly had to pull out of the fight for undisclosed reasons. While this wasn’t the biggest fight on the card, this was a fight that die-hard MMA fans were really looking forward to.

Manel Kape is one of the best flyweights in the world. This fight was going to be his UFC debut and he was getting a very exciting opponent in Alexandre Pantoja. The perfect introduction for Kape into the UFC.

Whenever Kape does make his UFC debut, he will do it on the heels of three consecutive knockout finishes. Those finishes led him to being crowned champion over in Rizin. Kape is expected to be an immediate title contender at 125 pounds.

What’s the UFC’s plan?

Again, at this time there is no reason as to why Pantoja had to pull out of UFC Vegas 17. That being said, the promotion is tossing around dates in February for the fight to be rebooked per MMA Fighting.

When these two do meet in the octagon, Pantoja will be looking to bounce back after a loss to Askar Askarov that came back in July. Since May of 2018, Askarov and current UFC flyweight champion, Deiveson Figueiredo, are the only two to beat Pantoja.

Pantoja even has a win over current number one contender, Brandon Moreno. I’m really happy to hear that the promotion is sticking with this fight instead of moving to something else. This should be a fantastic matchup whenever it does get finalized.