Entering his third year in Bellator, Brett “Fudoshin” Cooper sought only one thing, to win this season’s 185-pound tournament and go on to fight for the company’s middleweight championship.
Cooper’s quest got off to a good start when he defeated Norman Paraisy via unanimous decision in the tournament’s opening round this past April.
“I implemented my game on him when I could and everything fell into place,” said Cooper. “I got a lot of takedowns, kept the pressure on him. I knew it was going to be a tough first round, but after that most guys can’t keep up with my pace and the pressure I put on them.”
Having won five fights in a row going back to September 2011, Cooper’s continued maturation has shown through as a major contributing factor to his success.
“I’ve got a really good team, am working with a really good group of guys and starting to learn what works for me,” he said. “I’m learning what not to do, when to push things and when to relax.
“I’m just becoming more mature as a person and an athlete.”
Thursday night live on Spike TV at Bellator 92 in Temecula, Calif., Cooper will look to take the next step towards his goal as he faces Dan Cramer in the semi-finals of this season’s middleweight tournament.
“He’s a really well-rounded guy, but I think I’m a little bit better than he is in every area,” said Cooper of Cramer. “I think it’s going to be one of those barnburner fights, and I think I’ll end up getting the finish in the second round, but I’m ready for anything.
“Always pressure (my opponent), always pressure, that’s one of the biggest parts of my game that’s pretty consistent. It seems to work for me so far.”
Like the other fighters in the tournament, Cooper told MMAWeekly.com that even though he’s locked in his current opponent, there are naturally thoughts to what could come afterwards and that maintaining tunnel vision on what’s in front of him is a big part of keeping things from falling apart.
“You’ll always have the ultimate goals in the back of your mind, which is to be the champ, but if you’re not focused on the task at hand things might not fall into place, so you really don’t want to worry about what’s going to happen in the future,” he said. “So I’m focused on Dan Cramer and I won’t start thinking about anything else until I beat him.”
After difficulties in 2013, should Cooper take this season’s 185-pound tournament, not only will he be professionally at a high, but also personally indemnified for everything he’s had to overcome to get there.
“Last year was a pretty rough year both financially and physically,” said Cooper. “So to come back this year and win the tournament and win the belt would make it that much sweeter having gone through all that struggle.”