Kape, who lives in Porto, Portugal but regularly bases himself and trains at AKA Thailand gym in Rawai, has signed a multi-fight deal with the UFC after terrific form inside the RIZIN ring in 2019 that saw an impressive 3-0 win run.
“It is with great enthusiasm and joy that I am the new athlete of UFC,” Kape announced on his Facebook page.
Although no details have yet been confirmed as to Kape’s first opponent, he has wasted no time in demonstrating his ambition by calling for a debut bow against former bantamweight gold-holder, Cody ‘No Love’ Garbrandt.
Of Angolan descent, Kape becomes the first fighter from that country to enter the UFC Octagon since jiu-jitsu world champion Joao Roque’s sole appearance against Jens Pulver at UFC 26 in 2000.
“We are all so proud of Manel,” commented Mike Swick, Founder, Co-Owner and CEO at AKA Thailand.
“He works so hard and deserves this. Not only is he one of the hardest workers at the gym, but also one of the most loyal. That’s hard to find these days,” Swick added.
“We have no doubt he will be a UFC Champion one day,” he concluded.
‘14 stoppage wins’
Kape’s most recent victory was a New Year’s Eve knockout on December 31st last year as he defeated Japan’s Kai Asakura to secure the bantamweight championship at the RIZIN 20 MMA bout at the Saitama Super Arena just outside of Tokyo, Japan.
The victory saw Kape avenge his 2018 defeat to Asakura and become only the second fighter to win the RIZIN bantamweight belt. He exited the promotion as champion shortly after.
Kape’s other two victories in 2019 saw him overcome Seiichiro Ito and Takeya Mizugaki by knockout, both bouts being held in Japan.
The Phuket based fighter had an impressive start to his RIZIN career in 2017 with eye-catching knockouts against Erson Yamamoto and Ian McCall. The following year, in 2018, he then lost back-to-back fights to Kyoji Horiguchi and Asakura.
Since then, however, he has emerged victorious in three of his past four bouts on his way to a 15-4 record with 14 stoppage wins.
‘The law of minimum effort’
Nicknamed “Prodígio” (translating to prodigy, wonder or marvel) 26-year-old Kape was born in Angola but moved to Portugal when he was four. He has been based at the famed AKA Thailand gym in Rawai for several years.
“I am extremely grateful to all the people who have been and are part of my sports career, because I would not be where I am or achieved what I have already achieved. A big thank you to all,” he posted on his Facebook page.
“The road was long hard and cruel, but with all persistence dedication and hard work we all managed to achieve our goals,” he continued.
“Just believe even in the grey days of our life we will believe. And when they all doubt you (as has happened to me thousands of times) prove them with facts that they were wrong and yes they just gave you fuel to show who you are.
“My work, my focus and my determination will be redoubled because I have a goal this year or the next to become world champion again,” he concluded.
Kape dedicated his most recent victory against Asakura to his mother and shared insights into his winning mentality and mindset via his Facebook page.
“When it comes to the search for greatness there is no middle ground. Great achievements require great efforts, and obsessive focus. Hard work, sacrifice, resilience, dedication and most important of all persistence. Practicing ‘the law of minimum effort’ is to give yourself a ticket to mediocrity.”