01 Jan Alexandre Pantoja vs. Manel Kape targeted for Dec. 19 UFC event
Former RIZIN bantamweight champion Manel Kape will finally make his UFC debut when he cuts down to flyweight to face Alexandre Pantoja on Dec. 19, multiple people with knowledge of the booking told MMA Fighting.
MMA Junkie was first to report the 125-pound matchup.
The UFC has yet to announce the headlining attraction for the Fight Night card on Dec. 19.
Kape (15-4) inked a deal with the UFC after knocking out Seiichiro Ito, Takeya Mizugaki and Kai Asakura inside the RIZIN ring in 2019, capturing the vacant 135-pound belt in the process.
“Prodigio” won six of nine in the Japanese promotion between 2017 and 2019, including a win over longtime UFC veteran Ian McCall.
Pantoja (22-5) was close to earning a shot at the UFC flyweight gold after racking up a 6-2 record in the octagon, but lost a decision to undefeated Askar Askarov in July.
The former RFA flyweight titleholder has beaten the likes of Brandon Moreno, Damacio Page and Wilson Reis throughout his MMA career, and also holds a TUF win over Kai Kara France.
The UFC’s Dec. 19 event is scheduled to be headlined by a welterweight matchup between Leon Edwards and the surging Khamzat Chimaev.