Even when he’s won, things haven’t gone as smoothly as Bellator middleweight Brett “Fudoshin” Cooper would like of late.
During his Bellator middleweight tournament semifinal bout with Kendall Grove in March, Cooper barely survived an early beating before managing to turn things around in the second and get a knockout victory.
“Kendall took me down and won the first round pretty decisively, but luckily I had a good referee in John McCarthy who watched me, and I managed to survive the first round,” said Cooper. “My corner told me not to clinch with him and keep it on the feet and when I land it will be good – and I landed – and finished it with punches.
“That first round was tough. Kendall is no joke. I’m glad I got the win.”
Before Cooper defeated Grove, he had lost back-to-back fights for the first time since 2006. And even though he managed to right the ship, Cooper told MMAWeekly.com that preparations for the Grove fight weren’t easy.
“I’d changed a good amount of things after the (Alexander) Schlemenko fight (in September) and learned things that I needed to do,” said Cooper. “But about five weeks before the Kendall fight, I tweaked my back, so I had to change things up before the fight.
“It was a crazy camp. Now I’ve learned to not do that, I’ve healed up, and am ready for this fight.”
After defeating Grove to make it to the finals of the latest Bellator middleweight tournament, Cooper (20-9) will face Brandon Halsey (6-0) on Friday in Temecula, Calif., hoping to get a title shot later this year.
“Halsey is a strong wrestler and a compact individual who is going to come forward and try to take me down for some ground and pound,” said Cooper. “He’s wrestled his whole life, but you’re not getting punched in the head or hit in the body in wrestling.
“He’s a respectable opponent and I’m not taking him lightly. I’ve trained real hard with a couple of guys in this camp who are bigger, stronger, more dangerous versions of Halsey. I’m ready for him and look forward to showing that.”
Having been to the finals of a tournament before, Cooper knows what he needs to do in order to make his second go around better than the first.
“I’m looking at this pretty much all I have to do is show up for this fight and everything else will fall into place,” he said. “There’s a lot of stuff you have to do that doesn’t have an impact on the fight, like promoting, but I’ve gotten all that stuff done and I’m ready to fight.”
(Photo courtesy of Bellator MMA)