Rizin bantamweight champion Manel Kape signs with the UFC
AKA Thailand posted a photo of Kape posing with his UFC contract on Instagram:
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BREAKING!!! @akathailand’s own, @manelkape, has signed a big @UFC contract! All of his hard work has paid off and we are so proud of him! ➖➖➖➖➖➖➖➖➖➖➖➖➖ #akathailand #weareaka #phuket #savagelifemedia #starfishconcept #mikeswick #americankickboxingacademy #ufc #starboy #manelkape . . . ????: @AKAThailand / @Greg.Blunt
Kape became the bantamweight champion when he stopped Kai Asakura at Rizin 20. With Kyoji Horiguchi injured and Tenshin Nasukuwa tied up with Muay Thai and kickboxing commitments that makes him one of the promotion’s biggest stars.
He was expected to make the first defence of his title against Hiromasa Ogikubo at Rizin 21. But now the 15-4 fighter will be competing in the octagon instead.
Kape follows in the footsteps of Jiri Prochazka. The Czech was the reigning Rizin light heavyweight champion when he signed for the UFC earlier this year, although the parting appears to have been amicable.
It means two out of Rizin’s three champions have signed with the UFC this year. The only title holder remaining on the roster is Seo Hee Ham who holds the super atomweight belt.
Rizin 22 is currently set for the Yokohoma Arena on April 19th. However not a single fight had been announced and it is widely anticipated that this event will either be cancelled or postponed.
Nine days ago K’Festa 3 went ahead with a live audience at the Saitama Super Arena. But the coronavirus, or Covid-19, situation in Japan has deteriorated and Shooto 0329, Deep Cage Impact Osaka and Pancrase 313 and 314 have all either been cancelled or postponed.