Manel Kape returns to action this weekend at RIZIN 15 in Yokohama, Japan.
A man who many would argue is made for the big show, Kape has settled into the Japanese based promotion well since arriving in late 2017. After defeating Ian McCall in December 2017, Kape earned a shot at one of the promotion’s best, Kyoji Horiguchi. Kape was submitted in the third round and has since proceeded to lose two of his next three fights.
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Many forget – or are unaware – that Kape is only 25-years-old. The Angolan fighter is now committed to evolving his game at the American Kickboxing Acadamy branch in Phuket, Thailand, where he is working closely with coach Marcio Cesar.
Kape shared with John Hyon Ko of The Body Lock that he’s a great fit for AKA Thailand, as the gym’s location has allowed him access to world-class resorts and nearby beaches, a lifestyle that has permitted relaxation when not training hard at the gym.
Just as he meshes well with the Phuket lifestyle, Kape has also proven to be well-suited to RIZIN.
“RIZIN is a perfect event for me,” Kape explained to John Hyon Ko.
“I like show. I feel very, very comfortable when I see many people. I don’t like to fight for small people, I like to fight for big people. I like show. I like this promotion. To me, fighting for RIZIN is a good mix not just for me but for RIZIN, of course. It’s who I am, a showman.”
Facing Seiichiro Ito at RIZIN 15
Many may view Manel Kape’s upcoming fight against Seiichiro Ito at RIZIN 15 as just another bout for the Angolan. However, Kape promises that he’s been working harder than ever before because this is a must-win fight for him.
“This is the fight in which I am the most focused. I am very focused. I need to win this fight, so I need to bring the best show of my life. So I stay 24 hours in the gym, three times per day. This time, I am just training, not enjoying, no parties, just focusing on this victory and I see what I can do to win this fight.”
Kape explained his process of visualization and how it helps him prepare for his bouts in RIZIN.
“When I’m preparing to fight, the visualization is always what can I do to win, what can I do for a celebration. Many times I can’t sleep because I have a big smile on my face because I see victory.”
And victory is all Kape sees when he visualizes this upcoming bout with Seiichiro Ito, a fighter he believes is ‘like a kid.’
“He’s [Seiichiro Ito] a complete fighter, of course. You need to be complete to fight for this organization. He has good skills in the ground game but he’s not aggressive, you know, he’s like a kid, he doesn’t have confidence. When he is given a punch he starts to show who he is, he starts to show fear. I’ve seen many videos of him and I see me and him are different levels. Believe me, different levels.”
On Kyoji Horiguchi vs. Ben Nguyen
With the experience of fighting Kyoji Horiguchi under his belt, Manel Kape also provided insight as to what he expects from the bout between Kyoji Horiguchi and Ben Nguyen at RIZIN 15.
“[Horiguchi is] much better,” Kape shared.
“He’s more aggressive, has more power. Ben is just a technical fighter but not have the special things to beat Kyoji. You need to be more smart, because Kyoji is a smart guy; I’m a smart guy, when I fight I fight with my head, I don’t fight with aggression, I fight with head. I think Kyoji will win in one round.”
Asked whether he is interested in pursuing a rematch with Horiguchi, Kape responded with uncertainty, not because he’s not interested in the matchup itself but because he wants to win the flyweight title first.
“I am focused on fighting for the flyweight belt. I am focused first on flyweight, so I can go for Kyoji at bantamweight. I can go for Kyoji after I win the first belt at flyweight.”
And if that day comes, Kape believes with the brilliant team and gym behind him at American Kickboxing Academy in Phuket, Thailand, he can defeat Horiguchi and claim the RIZIN bantamweight title.
“I feel like I can win against this guy. I can win. If I have a good team, a good gym, good conditions for training, of course I can win.”
Jake Nichols is The Body Lock's Editor in Chief. Previously, he was the MMA Editor at RealSport.