Manel Kape is a 28-year-old flyweight prospect with a 17-6 professional record. Although he is just 2-2 in the UFC, Kape’s high-end ability and performances against tough competition have resulted in him earning a ranking of 14, with many in the MMA community believing he is a contending fighter in the near future.
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Meanwhile, #8 ranked, Rogerio Bontorin, is 16-4 as a professional and 2-3-1 in the UFC. Similar to Kape, Bontorin has gone up against tough competitors and has the necessary skills to contend against the elite of the division. The high-end ability of each fighter accompanied by a combined 91% finish rate makes for what should be an exciting fight.
The two flyweight fighters will face each other this Saturday night at UFC 275 in Singapore. UFC 275 is a PPV event featuring two title fights and a highly-anticipated strawweight rematch between Zhang Weili and Joanna Jedrzejczyk.
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The lower-ranked Manel Kape is a somewhat steep -230 favorite over Rogerio Bontorin at popular bookmaker BetUS.
Kape’s -230 odds mean that a successful $100 bet would return $143 on the night. A bet on the underdog, Bontorin, would see a much larger $280 return for a $100 bet placed.
Manel Kape entered the UFC with some of the biggest hype in recent memory. The belief in his talent extended beyond fandom alone, as his first fight was against elite flyweight contender, Alexandre Pantoja. Even though Kape lost this fight, and did so in a somewhat disappointing fashion, he showed everyone watching why he has the ability to become the future champion of the flyweight division.
The specifics of Kape’s fight-arsenal are so expansive that after diving into the breadth of details, the breakdown would sound more like a diatribe of support contrary to that efficient analysis. So, doing my best, I will allocate the analysis in an efficient, but effective manner.
To determine the disparity in singular fight ability between him and his opponent, one need not look any further than Kape’s elite combination of speed and power. More specifically, Kape’s ability to land quick and effective powerful blows, particularly with his hands when standing southpaw, creates a problem for anyone that elects to go toe-to-toe with him. Moreover, he can land a variety of strikes given his extensive Muay Thai training which only extenuates the damage Kape is able to inflict.
Having been touted as a future title holder, Kape has sound wrestle which is of little surprise knowing he trains out of AKA, the gym of Khabib Nurmagomedov and Daniel Cormier to name a few. While he has the skills necessary to successfully wrestle his opponent, Kape often elects to use his wrestling acumen through a defense lens, as he is often the more superior striker, both in terms of power and technique.
Foregoing the plan of offensive wrestling may seem to be the drawback of his fight game, thus making him just 2-2 in the UFC. This assessment is not inaccurate, however, the main reason Kape has faced adversity in the UFC is down to the mental side of the fight game. More specifically, Kape is often gun-shy, hesitant to go after his opponent, and thus, lacks the ability to effectively implement his elite skills. From an alternate sport, the best metaphor for Kape is the collegiate baseball pitcher who stands 6’6’’ tall and can throw 95+mph with a devastating breaking ball but lacks the ability to find the strike zone. I use this metaphor to illustrate that Kape has all the potential in the world but needs to learn how to hone his skills, and that begins and ends with fight intelligence.
Rogerio Bontorin is another flyweight who has electrifying power that is abnormally stark in damage. This power is explained by him throwing large overhand rights without fear of being taken down given his renowned submission game – he has 11 of his 16 wins by submission. A recent illustration of sitting down on powerful punches that creates the opportunity to be taken to the mat, without fear of being done, is shown by Gilbert Burns. Bontorin, similar to Burns, has complete trust that his elite ground game will supersede any initial poor position on the mat, thus allowing him to strike with a sense of freedom and confidence which is quite dangerous to face.
Building on the Gilbert Burns comparison, Bontorin has the ability to successfully wrestle his opponent to the mat, which is often a lacking trait by elite submission artists. The fight stats state that he lands an average of 2.9 takedowns over 15 minutes, with a 60% success rate; but, looking deeper into the stats, it becomes quite clear that Bontorin’s recent fight against Brandon Royval exacerbates the average takedowns. The far more accurate number is between 1-2 takedowns landed per 15 minutes, and this lack of takedown success is far more attributable to the biggest flaw of Bontorin – his cardio – contrary to his ability to effectively wrestle.
The cardio concerns of Bontorin arise before he enters the octagon, as he has a tendency to miss weight. Once in the octagon, the stylistic approach to fighting is clearly driven by a below-average gas tank, as he does not wrestle with the frequency he should nor does he strike with much output. This singular issue, which transfers over to other aspects of his fight game has caused him to lose close fights albeit his talent potential is sizable.
Given both fighters have an issue with fulfilling their talent, I favor the higher-end talent that just so happens to be the fighter who has the lesser of two evils relative to their weakness – Manel Kape. Even though each fighter has the power necessary to end the night at any moment, I believe the bout should be a back and forth affair, but ultimately, the talent of Kape should allow him to separate from Bontorin and earn him a close, but decisive victory.
Pick: Kape to win by decision (+235 at BetUS)