The UFC has made the trip back from Fight Island to Las Vegas and will hold an event Saturday night at the Apex Center. All week MMA Sucka will be featuring preview articles on the fights that make up the main card. You can find our main event preview here. For this article, I’ll be focusing on the flyweight contest between Alexandre Pantoja and UFC newcomer Manel Kape.
Alexandre Pantoja vs. Manel Kape
Alexandre Pantoja (22-5)
Pantoja fights out American Top Team and has won four of his last six fights. That said, he has lost two of his last three and enters this fight really needing an outstanding performance and a victory to get his footing in the flyweight division. His losses were to flyweight champion Deiveson Figueiredo and the unbeaten Askar Askarov. That’s why he’s still ranked in the top five despite those losses. He’s been beaten by the highest level fighters in the division.
Pantoja’s three previous victories in the UFC all came via the first-round TKO. He finished Matt Schnell, Wilson Reis, and Ulka Sasaki. He also defeated Brandon Moreno who recently fought to a draw with champion Figueiredo.
Manel Kape has won three high-profile fights in a row for RIZIN in Japan. Those victories came over Kai Asakura, Takeya Mizugaki, and Seiichiro Ito. He has established himself as a fast and powerful striker. “Starboy” has twice supposed to had made his debut but consecutive fights fell through. He is finally ready to step into the Octagon for the first time and blast his way into the limelight.
Here’s a look at his upset stoppage victory over Kai Asakura. He has hands!
Reminder that the violence God Manel Kape is making his UFC debut this week…Here is his upset KO win over Kai Asakura at Rizin 20 pic.twitter.com/tdGBGOhiZ4
— Freelance Goon (@FreelanceGoon) January 30, 2021
Full UFC Vegas 18 fight card
Alistair Overeem vs. Alexander Volkov
Frankie Edgar vs. Cory Sandhagen
Macy Chiasson vs. Marion Reneau
Manel Kape vs. Alexandre Pantoja
Cody Stamann vs. TBA (Ewell Out)
Beneil Dariush vs. Diego Ferreira
Clay Guida vs. Michael Johnson
Danilo Marques vs. Mike Rodriguez
Martin Day vs. Timur Valiev
Justin Jaynes vs. Devonte Smith
Joselyne Edwards vs. Karol Rosa
Molly McCann vs. Lara Procopio
Seungwoo Choi vs. Youssef Zalal
Denys Bondar vs. Ode Osbourne