The PFL 2021 season has come and gone, and arguably the biggest story is the continued success of the league’s top two stars — both whom will now enter free agency.
Ray Cooper III is as unlikely a star as you’ll find in MMA, but his stock has never been higher. After being defeated in the 2018 finale, Cooper III stormed back in 2019 to win the championship, despite being knocked out during the regular season by John Howard.
Heading into 2021 (and let’s keep in mind that the 2020 season was cancelled), the Hawaiian was immediately overshadowed by Rory MacDonald. The defending champ wasn’t even a favorite to win his own weight class, and media attention seemed to focus on the ex-Bellator champ and UFC veteran.
Then, Cooper III went and out-wrestled MacDonald, won every fight in the regular season and semifinals, and finished rival Magomedkerimov in their rematch to secure his second straight championship.
Cooper III has made it clear he wants to win multiple championships. He’s a soft-spoken guy who believes he’s the best at what he does, and whether that is in the UFC or elsewhere, Cooper is likely to put on more fun fights in the years to come.
Then there’s Kayla Harrison. Judo Kayla has long been the darling of the PFL, a ready-made star from the Ronda Rousey mold, who appears to have everything it takes to smash just about anyone at 145 or 155lbs. She could be the spark that truly ignites the higher weight classes for women, and after back-to-back PFL championships of her own, she appears primed to move to the bright lights of the UFC — if Dana White opens the pocket books.
For now, here’s one last look at Cooper III and Harrison’s wins from the PFL 2021 World Championship, plus the rest of the card.