PFL’s Ray Cooper III was all the rage in the promotion’s inaugural season. With Cooper finishing his first four fights in 2018, he quickly became a fan favorite. He made it all the way to the championship final against Magomed Magomedkarimov and lost the bout. But season two has started off with a bang for Cooper. With yet another finish, a second round rear naked choke over Zane Kamaka, Ray Cooper III is back on track and has the belt and the $1 million in his sights.
Ray Cooper III Reflects on Kamaka
Going into his fight with Kamaka, Cooper didn’t think Kamaka had the stones to stand with him. “I knew he was not going to want to stand. He talked big. He only talks. He can’t just talk. He has to fight,” says Cooper. His prediction was right. “Right at the start of the bell, he backed up, ran away. I went back to my wrestling and took him down. Pounded him on the ground a little bit and finished him.” Ultimately, Cooper got the choke in and put his opponent away, earning him the first victory of the season.
Learning From a Loss
Ray Cooper blitzed his way into the playoffs with his last regular season fight being an 18 second knockout of Pavel Kusch. Unfortunately, Cooper didn’t have such success in the playoffs, losing to Magomed Magomedkerimov. Ray wasn’t phased by his loss to Magomedkerimov last season at all. He was back to business immediately this season, doing what he does best: finishing. “It didn’t affect my mindset at all. I just made a mistake in that match. And, when you’re in championship matches you cannot make mistakes.” Cooper continues, “I left my neck out too much. I thought I was winning that fight, you know, I was pressing the action. I just left my neck out. He has some slick guillotines, he has some long arms. He got in on my neck and, yeah…” He left the sentence hanging off there. He knows he had what it took to beat Magomedkerimov. Now he wants that fight back.
“I wanted him right off the bat. But, I think they’re keeping him away from me until the end. Maybe we will meet in the playoffs depending on our points. I really want to get that back.”
As for the way PFL is set up, Cooper is a fan of how it compares to other sports, like soccer, baseball and the like. “It’s a real sport. It’s like all the regular professional sports. You have a post season and then a championship. We actually have seeding to get into the playoffs, then you have the playoffs, then you have the championship. There is no way around it. You’ve got to fight and you’ve got to win to advance. I think it’s the future of the sport. I love this.” That has been the sentiment from seemingly everyone about PFL. They’re doing it right.
As for his next fight, we know who Ray Cooper III will be seeing. He is set to face John Howard at PFL Season 2 #4 in July. But, he has another excellent fighter calling him out. “The Action Man,” Chris Curtis says he wants to test himself against Ray Cooper, even calling him out after PFL Season 2 #1. Cooper is game.
“It’s really up to PFL and how they match it. It’s whoever they put in front of me. He says he wants to stand and trade but there have been very [few] guys that have wanted to do that. He talks big, but we will see.” Curtis found it funny on Twitter:
As most of the world knows, Cooper’s dad, Raynell Cooper, was an MMA fighter as well. Cooper III attributes his career and how it began to that. The influence of his dad still flows through him today.
“I trained since I was a little kid. My family has been training, my dad trained super pro back in the day and I watched them fight. For me it was in my upbringing, watching them fight. I really don’t pay attention to Max Holloway or other fighters. I just pay attention to myself. I grew up watching BJ Penn and my dad. I really look up to them. They come out to scrap. All these other Hawaiian fighters, they’re really point fighters. They’re not really out there to finish guys. They’re looking to win decisions. I really don’t look for that. I look for the kill every time. It’s just the way I was brought up, and the spirit of God that flows through me.”
Ray Cooper III will undoubtedly put on a show at his next fight. Stay posted to The Fight Library for more content from Ray Cooper and PFL!
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