PFL Playoffs 1: Ray Cooper III Decisions Rory MacDonald, Heads to Finals

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Ray Cooper III PFL Playoffs 1
Ray Cooper III PFL Playoffs 1 Credit: Professional Fighters League

The main event of Friday’s PFL Playoffs 1 card in Hollywood, Florida was a fight many had hoped to see in the season finale.

Ray Cooper III was the defending welterweight champion from the league’s 2019 season (2020 had been cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic). Rory MacDonald was the big free agent singing, a former UFC contender and Bellator MMA champion.

The pairing promised fireworks, though that wasn’t quite what fans got in the end.

Cooper III vs. MacDonald opened with a fair amount of grappling along the fence. Both fighters battled for control through a number of reversals. MacDonald had to be wary of Cooper’s power, while Cooper ate some knees to the thigh. But when they came off the fence, Cooper was able to secure a takedown, settling into MacDonald’s guard, then moving to half-guard, while the Canadian attempted to tie him up.

Cooper rode out the remainder of the round, giving a hint at what was to come. Round two saw Cooper III again get MacDonald to his back. But with a lack of action, this time, the ref stood the pair up. It mattered not. Before long, Cooper once again got the fight to the ground.

The Hawaiian’s wrestling prowess was on display once again in the third. As much as the fight had promised a bloodbath on paper, Cooper III instead opted to fall back on his wrestling base, holding MacDonald in place. Ahead of the midway point of the final round, MacDonald could be seen imploring the ref for a stand-up, which simply wouldn’t come.

In the end, Cooper III led by a wide margin in strikes, had the bulk of the control time, and earned the clear unanimous decision win. He moves on to face Magomed Magomedkerimov in the finals.

Official Result: Ray Cooper III def. Rory MacDonald by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)

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