PFL 3: Rory MacDonald Returns to Win Column With First-Round Sub of Brett Cooper

Rory MacDonald and Brett Cooper, PFL 3
Rory MacDonald and Brett Cooper, PFL 3 at the Esports Stadium Arlington in Arlington, Texas, Friday, May 6, 2022. (Cooper Neill / PFL)

Rory MacDonald’s debut season in the PFL came to a premature end last year, with the former Bellator champ bounced from the playoffs by Ray Cooper III.

At PFL 3 on Friday in Arlington, Texas, Canada’s “Red King” kicked off his 2022 campaign against a different Cooper — fellow Bellator MMA veteran Brett Cooper.

It didn’t take long for MacDonald to get back in the win column on Friday night. The Canadian took the fight to the ground early, and his skill on the mat proved too much for Cooper. MacDonald spent plenty of time on top and in control, eventually working his way past Cooper’s guard into mount. From there, MacDonald flattened his opponent out, and began raining down ground n’ pound. Cooper initially covered up, but with punches getting through, he rolled, giving up his back. MacDonald saw his opening, slipping in the rear-naked choke. Well under the chin, Cooper had no choice but to tap.

Just like that, Rory MacDonald was back in the win column. With defending champ Ray Cooper III having missed weight, leaving him with -1 points for the season, MacDonald is in prime position moving forward. The first-round finish gives him six points, which bodes well for a playoff spot later this year.

MacDonald’s win made Canada 1-1 on the night, meanwhile, after another former Bellator champ, Julia Budd, suffered an upset loss against Genah Fabian.

Official Result: Rory MacDonald def. Brett Cooper by submission (rear-naked choke), Round 1, 2:23