Ray Cooper III credits the PFL with bringing back the tournament format, and silencing the social media buzz in determining rankings.
New York, NY — No man in the Professional Fighters League’s inaugural season has better exemplified the benefits of the pure sport format than Ray Cooper III. A virtual unknown heading into the season, Cooper (17-5) made the most of the opportunity, smashing his way through Jake Shields (twice), Pavel Kusch, and Handesson Ferreira. The story line throughout the season has been about vengeance: Shields held a win over Cooper’s father from years back. Ferreira was the last man to defeat Cooper III before he joined the PFL.
Now, the twenty-five year old Hawaiian has a chance to win a million dollars and a title in a major promition, at a time when Hawaiian MMA is exploding. Max Holloway in the UFC. Ilima-Lei Macfarlane in Bellator. A third world champion sure has a nice ring to it.
“It’s awesome to see that,” Cooper said of Bellator’s recent big splash in Hawaii. For now, however, Cooper is focusing on the fight at hand, and family. He’s not one to talk too much, frankly — which is why the tournament format is so appealing.
“I think we reinvented it. Bringing the tournament style back,” he said of the PFL’s attempt to promote MMA in a league format. “You’ve got your season, you’ve got your post season and you’ve got your championships. I think that’s how you do it. Not all this bullcrap about ‘he said, she said, whatever.’ You fight in the tournament, you win, you move on. You get to the playoffs, you win, you move to the semi-finals. You win the semi-finals and you get to the championships.”
“That’s how you rank guys, and that’s how you win championships. Through a league,” Cooper continued. “The next year comes around, you start back from ground zero, and you work your way up. That’s how you do it. Not all this social media buzz and who talks the most. That’s not how it’s done.”
While he didn’t want to speak negatively about anyone else, Cooper added that the “PFL’s the future of MMA.” From a true sporting perspective, that certainly seems true.
Ray Cooper III meets Magomed Magomedkerimov in the main event of the PFL Championship 2018 (a.k.a. PFL 11) on December 31. The event goes down live at the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York City. It airs on NBC SN, and Facebook Watch internationally.