Manel Kape eligible for UFC 275 after atypical drug-test finding

Manel Kape is free to compete at UFC 275 following an atypical drug-test finding last month. But he will not yet be licensed by the Nevada State Athletic Commission.

The NSAC ruled Tuesday at a hearing during its monthly meeting that Kape must undergo six more months of drug testing before being granted a license in the state, per NSAC executive director Jeff Mullen.

Kape will still be able to fight Rogerio Bontorin in a flyweight contender bout at UFC 275 on June 11 in Singapore, because the contest will be held outside NSAC jurisdiction. Kape is not currently being disciplined by the UFC or UFC anti-doping partner USADA.

Kape tested positive for a trace amount of the long-term metabolite of the steroid dehydrochloromethyltestosterone (DHCMT) -- called the M3 metabolite -- in a drug test last month conducted by USADA. Due to the finding, the NSAC pulled Kape from a scheduled UFC Fight Night bout against Su Mudaerji on April 23 but did not suspend him.

At the hearing Tuesday, the NSAC ruled that Kape must be drug-tested twice per month, beginning retroactively April 26, until Sept. 30. The test results must be negative or show the M3 metabolite at under a 100-picograms-per-milliliter threshold. If Kape is able to meet those testing requirements, he will be licensed by the commission this fall.

In 2019, USADA and the UFC altered the promotion's drug-testing policy with regards to the M3 metabolite of DHCMT, instituting the 100-picograms-per-milliliter threshold. If the metabolite in a fighter's system is below that amount, there will be no immediate discipline. That is why Kape will not be suspended by the UFC or USADA in this specific case. The NSAC has not instituted a threshold and prefers to evaluate these situations on a case-by-case basis.

Because of several cases -- including one involving all-time great Jon Jones -- in which the M3 metabolite popped up in a fighter's system in a trace amount with no parent compounds or shorter-term metabolites found, USADA ruled that it was impossible to know how long ago a fighter might have allegedly taken the banned substance that turned into the metabolite. The substance, USADA reasoned, could have been taken before the fighter even signed with the UFC, making it unfair to discipline him or her unless the amount in the fighter's system is above the 100 pg/mL threshold.

Kape, 28, has won two straight by KO/TKO and is considered a rising star in the UFC flyweight division. The Angola native is a former Rizin bantamweight champion.