Wednesday, December 7, 2022

UFC Matchmaking Bulletin (11/14-11/19): Kape & Crute Return, One Cancellation

MMA News has you covered with this week’s UFC matchmaking bulletin, featuring fights for entertaining flyweight Manel Kape, Australian light heavyweight Jimmy Crute, and welterweight prospect Jake Matthews.

With UFC cards being held most weekends, Mick Maynard and Sean Shelby have their matchmaking work cut out if they’re to fill them, meaning new bouts are confirmed each and every week.

The main story in recent days surrounded the return of flyweight contender Kai Kara-France. Following his failed attempt at winning interim gold at UFC 277 this past July, the New Zealander will look to rebound close to home when he faces Alex Perez in Australia next February.

Elsewhere, there were plenty of pairings to digest, some of which you can check out below in this week’s quick hits:

  • Punahele Soriano vs. Roman Kopylov – UFC Vegas 67 (January 14)
  • Junyong Park vs. Denis Tiuliulin – UFC Seoul (February 4)
  • Kleydson Rodrigues vs. Shannon Ross – UFC 284 (February 11)
  • Hailey Cowan vs. Ailín Pérez – UFC event (February 25)

But it wasn’t all positive, with one fight falling through. For that failed pairing and the confirmed replacement, see below:

For detailed information on some other notable fights that may have flown under your radar between November 14 and November 19, scroll down and check out this week’s UFC matchmaking bulletin.

Manel Kape vs. David Dvořák – UFC Vegas 66 (December 17)

Flyweight contender Manel Kape will return to action for the first time in over a year on December 17 when he meets David Dvořák at the UFC’s year-ending event.

Kape (17-6), a former Rizin bantamweight champion, has gone 2-2 since arriving in the Octagon. After underwhelming performances in decision losses to Alexandre Pantoja and Matheus Nicolau, the Angolan Portuguese 29-year-old bounced back in style with consecutive first-round knockouts against Ode’ Osbourne and Zhalgas Zhumagulov.

Now, having had bouts with Sumudaerji and Rogério Bontorin scrapped, Kape will look to make a third attempt at entering the cage this year, this time opposite Dvořák (20-4). The Czech flyweight had a 16-fight win streak snapped and 3-0 promotional record blemished last time out when he was outpointed by Nicolau at UFC Columbus.

This UFC Vegas 66 flyweight fight was first reported by Alex Behunin.

Jake Matthews vs. Matthew Semelsberger – UFC Vegas 66 (December 17)

The welterweight pairing of Jake Matthews and Matthew Semelsberger has also been added to 2022’s final UFC card.

Matthews (18-5) returned from a year-plus layoff this past June at UFC 275 with a performance that firmly reminded the 170-pound division of his presence. Having had a three-fight win streak snapped by the then-unbeaten Sean Brady, “The Celtic Kid” showed the best version of himself to date when he knocked André Fialho out in Singapore.

The Australian will now look to return to a win streak at the expense of Semelsberger (10-4). “Semi the Jedi” made it back-to-back wins at the start of the year when he outpointed AJ Fletcher. But in his pursuit of a three-bout winning run, the 29-year-old was beaten on the scorecards by Alex Morono at UFC 277 this past July.

This welterweight clash was first reported by @Bendaman2001 on Twitter.

Jimmy Crute vs. Alonzo Menifield – UFC 284 (February 11)

After sitting out 2022, #13-ranked light heavyweight Jimmy Crute will look to return to form at UFC 284 next February when he takes to the Octagon in front of his home fans in Australia.

Crute (12-3) entered 2021 off the back of two first-round finishes over Michał Oleksiejczuk and Modestas Bukauskas. But his surge up the ladder was stalled by consecutive losses, the first of which came against Anthony Smith when an apparent case of drop foot forced a doctor’s stoppage. Having been knocked out by Jamahal Hill last December and subsequently undergone knee reconstruction surgery, “The Brute” is in need of a win in Perth to hold his place in the top 15.

Looking to replace Crute in the rankings on February 11 will be Alonzo Menifield (13-3). After somewhat venturing away from his power-hitting reputation with a pair of decisions in the second half of 2021, winning one and losing the other, “Atomic” has returned to KO ways in 2022, first stopping Askar Mozaharov with ground-and-pound before brutally knocking Misha Cirkunov out.

This light heavyweight bout was announced by the promotion.

Ode’ Osbourne vs. Denys Bondar – UFC Event (February 25)

Ode’ Osbourne will be in search of a return to winning ways next year when he meets Denys Bondar at the February 25 UFC event.

Osbourne (11-5) turned his promotional record positive this past June when he knocked Zarrukh Adashev out in one round at UFC Vegas 56. But a month later, the Jamaican’s UFC slate was evened at 3-3 courtesy of Tyson Nam and a vicious right hand at UFC San Diego. The 30-year-old will now look to start a period of consistency inside the cage, starting in early 2023.

In his way of a rebound win will be Bondar (16-4). The Ukrainian debuted in the Octagon this past February at UFC Vegas 47, where he met Malcolm Gordon. In what was certainly not an ideal arrival, “Psycho” fell to a first-round submission after suffering what appeared to be a dislocated elbow. Bondar will look to return to the form that brought him a 10-fight win streak prior to his UFC signing.

This flyweight contest was announced by Osbourne’s management team, Iridium Sports Agency.

Tyson Nam vs. Bruno Silva – UFC Event (March 11)

Speaking of Osbourne’s latest defeat, the man who inflicted it will be looking to repeat the feat at the UFC’s event on March 11, 2023.

Tyson Nam (21-12-1) put his knockout power back on display at UFC San Diego, having been outpointed by Matt Schnell in his sole 2021 appearance. Prior to that, the Hawaiian had swiftly stopped Zarrukh Adashev and Jerome Rivera, marking a rebound from the first losing skid of his UFC tenure, brought on by Kai Kara-France and Sergio Pettis.

Looking to stifle Nam’s power on March 11 will be Bruno Silva (12-5-2). The Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt finally found form in the UFC last year, knocking out both JP Buys and Victor Rodriguez in the space of two months, having gone 0-2-1 in his first three outings. He’ll look to pick up where he left off when he returns for the first time in almost two years.

This flyweight scrap was first reported by MMA Fighting’s Mike Heck.

Who do you envision having their hands raised in these UFC matchups?