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A highly anticipated Ultimate Fighting Championship flyweight matchup is on ice for the time being.
First reported by MMA Fighting on Thursday, Alexandre Pantoja (22-5) will no longer be competing at UFC Fight Night 183 against Manel Kape (15-4). The reason for Pantoja’s withdrawal is currently undisclosed, but the promotion is looking to re-book the pair in February if possible. It is unclear if Kape will remain on this card with a fresh opponent and make a short turnaround for the Pantoja re-booking, or simply wait a few months longer to make his UFC debut.
Pantoja was looking to rebound from a decision loss to the unbeaten Askar Askarov in July. With alternating wins and losses in his last four, “The Cannibal” has dropped decisions to Askarov and current champ Deiveson Figueiredo, while knocking out Wilson Reis and Matt Schnell along the way. The flyweight joined Season 24 of “The Ultimate Fighter” to determine a flyweight title challenger, only to lose in the semifinals to Hiromasa Ougikubo. Since then, Pantoja has notched six wins including four stoppages.
“Prodigio” is chomping at the big to make his first walk to the Octagon, as a previously scheduled match against Rogerio Bontorin in August was also scratched when Bontorin suffered an ankle injury. Kape last competed under the Rizin Fighting Federation, where the bantamweight fought his way through part of the 2017 Grand Prix and was ejected by Kyoji Horiguchi. Kape later won the bantamweight throne in his final Rizin bout, when he knocked out Kai Asakura to take home gold. He vacated his belt to join the UFC ranks.
UFC Fight Night 183 keeps taking hits, but it will still go on at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas on Dec. 19. The event will now be capped off by a welterweight clash between Stephen Thompson and Geoff Neal, while Marcin Tybura vs. Greg Hardy at heavyweight is the co-headliner. Also on the card is a pair of thrilling bantamweight battles as Marlon Moraes faces Rob Font while Jose Aldo takes on Marlon Vera.