The UFC saw a key flyweight fight at February’s UFC 284 fall through this week, with Kai Kara-France forced out of his match-up with Alex Perez.
With the injury likely to keep Kara-France on the sidelines for the time being, the organization has now pivoted away from the New Zealand native, and paired Perez up with Manel Kape. Rather than UFC 284 in Perth, Australia, that new match-up will come at UFC San Antonio on March 25, 2023.
MMA Fighting was first to report news of Perez vs. Kape being in the works on Friday. Kara-France revealed news of his injury on Thursday, saying that he was “gutted” to be forced off the Perth card, the UFC’s first trip to Australia since prior to the coronavirus pandemic setting in.
“Unfortunately due to injury, I’ve had to pull out of my up coming fight in Perth. I’m gutted I won’t be able to fight in front of everyone in [Australia],” Kara-France wrote in a statement on social media. “To everyone who supports me, I’m sorry. This has been frustrating but i know I’m making the right decision. Hopefully me and [Alex Perez] can run it back next year. Enjoy the holidays, stay safe and will see you back in the Octagon 2023. Much love everyone!”
Perez (24-7) had teased on social media that he had “fight news coming soon” just ahead of the switch in opponents. The 30-year old is looking to snap a two-fight skid, after suffering defeat at the hands of champ Deivson Figueiredo in a November 2020 title fight, and Alexandre Pantoja earlier this year.
Manel Kape (18-6) has regained his footing after starting his UFC run at 0-2. The former RIZIN Fighting Federation champ won his last three fights, most recently defeating David Dvorak in a strong showing at UFC Vegas 66 last weekend.
Alex Perez is currently ranked #6 in the flyweight division, while Manel Kape sits at #9.