In March 2020, it was announced that former Rizin FC champion Manel Kape would be making the transition to the West and into the UFC. Stakes and expectations were high for the young Angolan who had already beaten some of Japan’s top talent in Kai Asakura and former UFC title challenger Ian McCall. However, he would come up short in his UFC debut, demonstrating all the skills required but not quite pulling the trigger.
In his second outing, he fared better but still not well enough. In a controversial turn of events, after dominating the latter two rounds against his opponent, the judges gave the fight to Matheus Nicolau. However, Verdict MMA, the unofficial fan scoring platform published their results in which most fight fans had Kape as the victor. This has left Kape 0-2 inside the octagon after coming in with the highest of expectations on his shoulders.
Ode “The Jamaican Sensation” Osbourne is 1-1 in the UFC after his impressive outing on Dana White’s Contender Series. With a record of 9-3-0 (1NC), he has accumulated five finishes in his last five wins proving how dangerous he is, whether striking or grappling. Although coming into the UFC as a bantamweight and competing last at featherweight, he will make the large jump down to meet Kape at 125-pounds.
At UFC 265, will we see the Jamaican Sensation continue his finishing ways in a third weight class? Or will Manel Kape finally live up to the hype?
Kape vs. Osbourne betting odds
Although he lost his last two, Kape will still enter the cage as a -200 favorite, likely due to his history as a high-profile champion outside the promotion.
Kape vs. Osbourne breakdown
Kape and Osbourne actually share a lot of similarities stylistically. Both are extremely fast, and powerful for the lighter-weight classes, and have shown a high degree of creativity. Both have even begun fights by crawling to the center in an unorthodox approach.
What sets these two apart in this matchup will be Kape’s experience and Osbourne’s size. Kape, a former Rizin champion, has tested himself against better opposition, and so it is more likely that we will see him perform to his usual skill level in this fight. Although Osbourne has looked sensational, he will be making a jump up in difficulty, and it will be much harder to maintain his usual dominance against the likes of Kape.
Manel Kape’s biggest criticism is that his hesitancy costs him fights. In Rizin, his ability to land hard and fast would result in big moments throughout the fight. The reason this granted him success in Japan, is because then, his fights were scored as a whole, and his accumulative big moments could outweigh his larger degree of inactivity. However, this does not bode well in the UFC with its round scoring and has resulted in Kape losing rounds, leading to a losing decision regardless of his big moments.
Technically, Kape is best when he moves forward and rides momentum. When he works on the backfoot, he finds it more difficult to read his target. When he moves forward without utilizing his hands, he walks into shots, but when he is in the rhythm of the fight, feints, and uses his boxing on the front foot, he is extremely accurate and quick. He likes to cut angles and land hooks from both sides, and by doing so, his boxing becomes particularly difficult to defend, as it comes from all directions.
Osbourne was not undersized as a featherweight so expect him to not only come in with an additional physicality but also an immense reach. A five-inch reach advantage, in fact, and this is an attribute that Osbourne knows how to use. He is very adept at keeping opponents on the end of his shots, and his explosiveness often catches his competitors by surprise.
Although he comes from a wrestling background, it wasn’t especially prestigious and I believe that Kape will enjoy a bit of a grappling advantage overall. He mixes his wrestling into his submission game more seamlessly and has better fundamentals. What he will have to watch out for though, is Ode is very active off his back, he will close his guard using his long limbs as a trap and look to land sharp elbows from the bottom. He can also throw up submissions, specifically the armbar from guard. However, he can sometimes be caught faltering in the fundamentals, meaning Kape may have the ability to pass into a dominant position and utilize his superior Jiu-Jitsu game.
Kape vs. Osbourne prediction
Osbourne is a promising talent, and someone to watch out for going forward. However, because Kape has not lived up to the expectations in the UFC as of yet, I believe he is fighting down in competition. The two share some stylistic similarities but Kape’s experience and advantage on the mat edge him out in my opinion.
Prediction: Manel Kape by submission
Braeden Arbour is an aspiring journalist out of Ontario, Canada. He is a recent graduate of Trent University, with a black belt in Karate and a blue belt in Judo. He has also been an avid fan of MMA for the last decade.