Su Mudaerji vs. Manel Kape scheduled for UFC Fight Night 207 is an absolutely amazing match-up, and likely not the last time the two will meet due to the high chance that both stay around the top of the division for quite a while. Both rising in their UFC careers, fans who are familiar with the two, understand just how promising both men are. Mudaerji, a Sanda striker from Tibet entered the UFC with a 13-3 record. Although falling short in his debut, having been matched up with Louis Smolka, Mudaerji took little time there afterward in cementing himself as one of the most dynamic and elusive strikers at 125 pounds.
However, Kape, a former RIZIN FF champion is also one of the most dynamic fighters to enter the division in recent years, and with two back to back knockouts coming as of late he could be on track to being one of, if not the most exciting fighter moving through the flyweight ranks. Fighting out of Thailand, but Angolan by birth, Kape by 28 has already compiled an impressive resume. Wins over Ian McCall and Kai Asakura prior to his time in the UFC plus experience against Kyoji Horiguchi and Alexandre Pantoja put him in competition with the world’s elite.
Mudaerji comes in as the slight underdog at +124, meaning for every dollar bet on the Tibetan, should he pull of the upset will return a profit of $1.24
- Su Mudaerji: +160
- Manel Kape: -190
As touched on above, both men are extremely dynamic. Su Mudaerji is a very long fighter, enjoying a reach of 72 inches. It isn’t just that he has this however, it’s that his game has developed to take full advantage of it, he utilizes long techniques like shifting low kicks and sidekicks, positioning himself to extend on the lead leg so as to maintain a safe distance away as he lands. Likewise, the majority of his punches thrown come as a stretch, landing straight down the center. Defensively he tends to depend most on footwork and leaning away from shots, he keeps a very low guard, banking on his movement but when he is hit his arms are not usually there to take any brunt of the damage. Yet, most of the time he is able to fade away from counters or angle off. Although most of his shots come straight, his check right hook is likely his best move, he looks to pump his jab and fade away from the counter while at the same time showing his opponent an opening to follow through at which point the hook comes over the shoulder. As a southpaw, this is particularly effective as it comes from outside his opponent’s jabbing hand.
Kape is also a fighter with a low guard and a lot of movement, however, comparatively to Mudaerji, favors the outside game less. This makes sense in their match up especially as Kape will come in with a 68-inch reach, a full four inches less than Muedarji. However, Kape’s strengths come inside. In range, he is immensely creative, and is able to bob, duck and weave under shots while landing heavy himself. His hand speed is phenomenal and a flying knee is never far away. However, the caveat here is often Kape will come in with a long stance and look to explode and tag from further out to start his fights. As he becomes more comfortable with the range and timing of his opponent, this is when he is able to shorten his stance, put weight on the lead leg and showcase that creativity. Su Mudaerji has a style that is extremely difficult to get a read on and to get comfortable engaging with, as he works so far out that his opponents often find it difficult to get off any offense first. Having to look for ways to enter through a stage of distance where only one party is safe is an added element in most Mudaerji fights and this one in particular to a greater extent than we normally see.
In terms of the grappling aspect of this fight, should it come up it will be Kape initiating it. As a grappler, Kape is the better wrestler, but Mudaerji’s strengths are probably more to his guard. Shooting in from afar is a difficult tactic against Mudaerji who has developed a great base and whizzer to defend against the opponents’ changing levels and getting beneath his center of gravity, however, Kape tends to look for takedowns when he has already slipped strikes and gotten to the back. This is a far better idea against Mudaerji, because it takes away his ability to make use of his longer limbs as defensive weapons. In fact, while Mudaerji has a terrific guard, his ability to defend with his back taken has been his shortest coming. When in guard, he is great at tying up his opponents and landing elbows at odd angles, he is also great at creating space for sweeps and submission attempts. However, the best routes for those who have found success have been stacking him, or taking the back and negating his ability to utilize his long limbs fully. It’s also notable that being armbarred has consistently been the means to victory the few who have beaten him have used.
Kape doesn’t have the same ability to contend off of his back or in grappling scenarios, his goal is to take the back and control while landing shots, but the best way to engage Muedarji is to set up his back takes with strikes.
This is a very fascinating fight, however, I do believe that the big factor will be range. When Kape is on and comfortable, his ability to let his hands go and show off his wicked speed and flow is beautiful to watch. However, if anyone has the ability to make a fight frustrating and to not allow Kape to get to that stage of comfort in the fight, it’s Mudaerji who is one of the most elusive fighters in the UFC today.
Prediction: Su Mudaerji to win via decision
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.