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UFC Vegas 18: Pantoja vs Kape Fight Breakdown

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The UFC returns to action in Las Vegas this Saturday, February 6th with a jampacked UFC Vegas 18: Overeem vs Volkov card that will feature the flyweight scrap of Pantoja vs Kape. Of the many great fights lined up for us MMA fans, few offers as much fireworks potential as this one. Alexandre Pantoja is a finishing machine, with 16 of his 22 career wins ending in a KO/TKO or a submission. Similarly, former RIZIN Bantamweight Champion Manel Kape is known for ending fights himself, with his last three fights resulting in dazzling KO/TKO finishes. In addition to that, this fight has serious title contention implications. Don’t blink when watching this one, folks!

Now let’s take a look at the Pantoja vs Kape Tale of the Tape.

Alexandre PantojavsManel Kape
5’5″ (165.1 cm)Height5’6″ (167.64 cm)
125 pounds (56.7 kg)Weight125 pounds (56.7 kg)

As you can see, these two fighters stack up pretty well against each other. Kape does have the one-inch advantage in height and is three years younger. However, Pantoja has an eight-fight experience advantage, including nine fights in the UFC. It will be interesting to see if Pantoja’s experience inside the octagon will come in to play against Kape, who will be making his UFC debut after more than a year out of action.

Before we take a look at the style of both of these warriors, let’s first take a glance at what led them here.

Pantoja’s History

Alexandre Pantoja got his start in the regional scene of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 2007. Pantoja would fight his first 16 matches in Brazil before winning two flyweight championships in back-to-back fights in the United States. He was able to catch the eye of Dana White and the UFC with those victories and was invited to compete on The Ultimate Fighter: Tournament of Champions in 2016 for a shot at facing Demetrious Johnson for his flyweight title. Pantoja was able to get wins over recent title challenger Brandon Moreno, as well as Kai Kara-France, before losing to Hiromasa Ougikubo in the semifinals.

Pantoja did enough during his time on TUF to earn his shot in the UFC and finally made his debut in January of 2017. Pantoja would win two straight before suffering his first UFC loss against Dustin Ortiz. He followed that up with a three-fight win streak that started in May of 2018 with another win over Moreno and ended in July of 2019 when he ran into current UFC Flyweight Champion Deiveson Figueiredo.

EDMONTON, ALBERTA – JULY 27: (L-R) Alexandre Pantoja of Brazil punches Deiveson Figueiredo of Brazil in their flyweight bout during the UFC 240 event at Rogers Place on July 27, 2019 in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC)

Pantoja was then able to get back into the win column with a victory over Matt Schnell in December of 2019. He last fought against Askar Askarov in a unanimous decision loss in July of 2020. Pantoja was originally scheduled to face Kape at UFC Vegas 17: Thompson vs Neal in December of 2020 but he was forced to withdraw. Now the fight is back on and Pantoja will be looking to make sure it is his hand being raised when the final bell is rung. Pantoja vs Kape

Kape’s History

Manel Kape began his MMA career fighting in regional MMA promotions in Portugal in 2012, where he would amass an 8-1 record before joining Japan’s biggest MMA promotion, RIZIN in 2017. Kape made his RIZIN debut in spectacular fashion, knocking out Erson Yamamoto with a head kick just one minute into the fight. He followed that up with a TKO win over Ian McCall before dropping two straight fights, one by submission, the other by split-decision. Kape would then go 1-1 over his next two fights, losing by unanimous decision but winning by submission.

SAITAMA, JAPAN – DECEMBER 31: Manel Kape and Kai Asakura compete in the RIZIN Bantam Weight Championship match during the RIZIN.20 at Saitama Super Arena on December 31, 2019 in Saitama, Japan. (Photo by Masashi Hara/Getty Images)

From there, Kape would go on the three-fight win streak that culminated in a RIZIN Bantamweight Championship belt going home with him. His first win in that streak was a vicious left hook to the body that took out Seiichiro Ito. His next win was a right hook that knocked out Takeya Mizugaki. Kape followed that up with his championship win, a TKO victory over Kai Asakura in December of 2019. He was then scheduled to make his UFC debut and face Rogério Bontorin in August of 2020 but that fight was canceled due to a Bontorin ankle injury. Now Kape is finally set to make his long-awaited UFC debut, and he is here to set the flyweight division on fire.

Pantoja vs Kape Style Breakdown

Pantoja’s Style: Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

In six wins inside the UFC, Pantoja has two wins by KO/TKOs, two by submissions, and two by decisions. He has managed to win in a diverse manner, which makes him dangerous inside the octagon. With that being said, Pantoja’s style is based around BJJ and he has had success with his grappling skills in the past. But don’t be surprised if he chooses to stand and bang with the UFC newcomer since he does have the hands to do so. The only question is, does he have the chin to withstand Kape’s violent style? Pantoja vs Kape

Kape’s Style: Striker

If you’ve watched Kape fight in the past, you already know what his style is. He’s a striker that can win in the blink of an eye. Honestly, a better classification for his style would be violence. He can knock your block off with a clean right hook or send you crumpling to the ground with a nasty hook to the body. He can open your face up with his knees or just put you to sleep with a kick. This man is a fighter, through and through.

Now that we’ve examined their styles, it’s time to get to the Pantoja vs Kape prediction!

Pantoja vs Kape Prediction

This fight has fireworks written all over it. Both of these fighters are more than capable of finishing the fight on their feet. Where Pantoja will have the advantage is on the ground, if the fight gets to that point. We truly haven’t seen Kape get tested by the level of competition that he will face while in the UFC. Can he keep the fight standing and add another impressive knockout to his resume? Or will Pantoja be able to take this fight to the ground and spoil Kape’s debut? Time to get to the Pantoja vs Kape prediction!

Pantoja vs Kape Predicted Result: Kape by KO in the second round via an overhand right.

Manel Kape is an absolute beast and he is here to take the flyweight division by storm. In his way first is an Alexandre Pantoja that I feel will underestimate the UFC newcomer. This is not a knock against Pantoja, who has faced some very high-level competition in his career thus far but more so speaks to the dangerous abilities of Kape. I think Kape will adjust quickly to the big stage and bring the fight right to Pantoja.

After a round of adjusting and getting a feel for Pantoja, Kape will come out in the second round like a bat out of hell. Kape will close the distance quickly from the opening bell, look for his opening, and then throw a kick to the body followed by a clean overhand right to the jaw of Pantoja. Moments later Kape is getting his hand raised, victorious in his UFC debut, with a $50,000 performance bonus coming his way. Pantoja vs Kape

Think Pantoja vs Kape will go down a different way? Let us know in the comments below! Don’t miss this banger action on UFC Vegas 18! Pantoja vs Kape Pantoja vs Kape Pantoja vs Kape

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Jeff Swartz is a combat sports writer and editor for With a focus on the UFC, Jeff also covers other major combat sports promotions like Bellator, ONE, World Lethwei Championship, Sparta Sports & Entertainment, and much more!