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UFC signs RIZIN bantamweight sensation Manel Kape

The promotion’s bantamweight champion will hopefully hit the Octagon sometime later this year, after leaving RIZIN on a 3-fight win streak.

RIZIN.20 Photo by Masashi Hara/Getty Images

It looks like light heavyweight Jiri Prochazka isn’t the only RIZIN champion on his way to the UFC. The Czech fighter picked up his contract to compete in the Octagon back in January, off a KO win over longtime UFC middleweight CB Dollaway. On March 30th AKA Thailand announced Prochazka would be joined by RIZIN bantamweight champion Manel Kape.

Kape took the belt, vacated by Kyoji Horiguchi following a recent knee injury, in a victory over homegrown star Kai Asakura—who defeated Horiguchi via shocking upset KO in a non-title bout back in August of last year. That win, a TKO in the second round, marked the third straight stoppage victory for the Portuguese ‘Prodigio.’ And it looks like it picked him up a 4-fight UFC contract in the process.

Kape (15-4) went 6-3 over his RIZIN career, with a submission loss to Horiguchi in the 2017 RIZIN Grand Prix, after beating Ian McCall and Erson Yamamoto. He also dropped a split decision to Asakura in 2018, and a unanimous decision to former UFC flyweight Ulka Sasaki.

No telling when he’ll make his debut in the Octagon. With the current COVID-19 pandemic the UFC’s 2020 schedule is very much up in the air. Hopefully things will get back to some sense of normalcy over the summer and a whole new batch of fans will get their chance to watch Kape perform soon.