Three years in the making, Ray Cooper III is looking to get his loss back from Magomed Magomedkerimov in the PFL welterweight finals. After a fight falling out in the 2019 championships due to an injury on Magomedkerimov’s part, Cooper finally will get his chance at redemption.
Righting that wrong is of the upmost importance for Ray Cooper III. After winning the vacant belt in 2019, it’s been on Cooper’s mind. Having made it to the finals for the third season in a row, Cooper is just happy to be back.
“I just want to right that wrong that I had in the first season. I’m just happy to get back in the finals and competing in the season tournament. It shows that I’m versatile and I can fight back to back in a season. Not many fighters can do that. I’m just happy to be in the finals again and fighting for that million dollar check and my next belt.”
The big win for Ray Cooper III this year thus far has been Rory MacDonald. When I interviewed him after MacDonald signed, Cooper said he looked to get a win back for his fellow Hawaiian fighter, BJ Penn. While he won the fight, Cooper hoped to put MacDonald away. He goes in to praise the skills of his former opponent as well.
“I was happy with it but I wanted to finish him. He is a good fighter and he didn’t give me an opportunity to finish the fight. He defended everything. He tried to clinch me most the time. When I took him down he neutralized the punches. It was a good win but I knew that I was going to dominate him in the wrestling. He could have said all he wanted.”
With a family immersed into combat sports, Cooper has always been around fighting. His family has trained together all his life and now that Hawaii is locked down, nothing really changed for him. Cooper said, “I train out of my own house. I train at a gym so it didn’t effect me one bit. That didn’t bother me.”
Cooper continues that his training isn’t a secret and anything revolutionary. Instead, he takes fighting for what it is at it’s core and prepares for that.
“It’s just my three brothers that train with me and my dad. I believe in it. I was raised doing that when I was young. The basics. I just run my miles every day, do my live rounds, and lift weights. That’s the only thing you need. All these other fighters like to do all these fancy things with these fancy equipment. When it comes down to it, you need to be prepared to get into a fight and what matters is whose conditioning is better. That’s what it is at the end of the day.”
Ray Cooper III and The PFL Championships
Going into the rematch with Magomed Magomedkerimov, Ray Cooper III has all the confidence in the world. He believes it’s his training at the core of fighting that has him in the advantageous position.
“I just know I’m a better fighter than him. I feel like he didn’t get to go all rounds. You can tell in his fights, like with Chris Curtis, Sy, he gets tired, man. I train all day long and I can go all day long. In our last fight he was getting tired too. I just made a mistake and it cost me. I don’t really care what he does. I’m going to beat him everywhere.”
Although the loss to Magomedkerimov was three years ago and Cooper still believes he’s the better fighter, he’s not holding a grudge on the Dagestani. Cooper says that their fight is simply competition. He made the mistake and owned up to his shortcomings in that fight.
“I don’t really hold grudges. It’s a competition so if I lose, it’s on me. It’s not on my opponent. If they capitalize on my mistake, that’s the competition. That’s what we’re in this sport for. It’s to compete.”
So Cooper will get that shot to make the fight right again. After Magomedkerimov pulled out the fight in 2019, the two finally rematch. This time, Cooper is predicting a violent finish.
“Everyone should tune in to see a knockout. I’m the main event even though I’m the co-main event. Everyone is coming to watch me fight. Everyone wants an exciting fight and I’m the most exciting fighter on the roster. I’m going to knock him out,” said Cooper with an icy cold tone.
Win or lose, Ray Cooper III has already won the title. But adding a defense on top of that to the man who turned him away the first time will be icing on the cake.