Two years ago, Manel Kape earned his first UFC win inside Toyota Center in Houston, Texas. Now he is back in Texas, this time San Antonio, on a three-fight win streak that he looks to continue against Alex Perez at UFC Fight Night: Vera vs Sandhagen.
After spending two fights inside the UFC APEX, being able to fight with a crowd again is something that Kape is excited about.
“I think it's good (to fight in Texas) because I remember my first win in UFC,” Kape said. “My first win was in Houston, Texas, so it's a good place to be, good food. Everything here in Texas is huge and I love that.”
The last time Kape stepped inside the Octagon was in December against David Dvorak, where he left with a unanimous decision victory. The win put Kape at No. 9 in the flyweight rankings after defeating Zhalgas Zhumagulov and Ode’ Osbourne prior to that fight.
Just three months later, “StarBoy” is set to go into battle once again and the preparation for this fight was “brilliant.”
“Every camp is different,” Kape said. “Some camps, I had a lot of injuries and I had to stop some weeks, some days. In this camp I didn’t have to stop anything. I was very good, healthy. It was brilliant because I was very well.”
Perez sits at No.6 in the rankings and is coming off a loss to Alexandre Pantoja last July. That was Perez’s first fight since 2020 after dealing with a long string of cancellations with Matt Schnell. His fight in 2020 was a title fight against former flyweight champion Deiveson Figueiredo.
With the experience that Perez has, Kape understands the boost a victory this could give him in the division. But he believes it shouldn’t be that hard to be the one who leaves with his hand raised.
“It's a good matchup for me,” Kape said. “I am going to fight an opponent that has been fighting for a while. It's a guy that I don't know, but what I see I don't believe he's in shape to fight against me, so I believe it's going to be an easy win.”
Stepping into the Octagon with a record of 18-6 and having never been knocked out in his career, the 29-year-old believes that anyone that has to fight him needs to be prepared on many different levels, and if you aren’t, it may lead to a bad night in the office.
“When you step to the cage to fight against me, you need to be very, very prepared, physically, mentally,” Kape said. “To fight against me, you need to be prepared everywhere, so if you aren't like that, you better step away.”
When Kape faces off against Perez on Saturday night, he wants to be explosive, putting on a technical and impressive performance.
And when he looks at the rest of the flyweight division, he gives props to current champion Brandon Moreno, but knows that the time is coming when he’ll be the one to hoist UFC gold. His fight against former title challenger Perez is just another steppingstone on his way to the title.
“This win is going to be important for me because he's a former contender,” Kape said. “This win is going to put me right to the belt that I believe that I deserve, and right now it’s the most important fight of my career, the most important fight in UFC and this is the fight that I'm going to make look easy and show to everybody that I'm the next king of this division.”
UFC Fight Night: Vera vs Sandhagen took place live from the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas on March 25, 2023. See the Final Results, Official Scorecards and Who Won Bonuses - and relive the action on UFC Fight Pass!