Former RIZIN bantamweight champ Manel Kape’s UFC debut will have to wait a little longer.
Kape’s scheduled debut versus flyweight veteran Alexandre Pantoja has been scratched from UFC Vegas 17, which takes place Dec. 19 at UFC APEX in Las Vegas. MMA Fighting’s Guilherme Cruz confirmed with multiple people close the promotion that Pantoja was removed from the card for undisclosed reasons.
A UFC official also told MMA Fighting the bout may be rescheduled to sometime in February, though nothing has been confirmed yet.
Kape knocked out Seiichiro Ito, Takeya Mizugaki and Kai Asakura inside the RIZIN ring to in capture the Japanese promotion’s vacant 135-pound title. Kape was originally scheduled to make his octagon debut against Rogerio Bontorin at UFC 252 in August, but the fight was pulled when Bontorin suffered an injury.
Pantoja most recently appeared in the octagon in July at UFC Fight Island 2, where he suffered a decision loss to Askar Askarov. That setback left him at 1-2 in his previous fights and sent him back to the drawing board after a knockout win over Matt Schnell.
UFC Vegas 17 is currently headlined by a welterweight fight between two-time title challenger Stephen Thompson and Geoff Neal. A welterweight headliner between Leon Edwards and Khamzat Chimaev was scratched when Edwards tested positive for COVID-19.