The first time Ray Cooper III stepped into the cage with Magomed Magomedkerimov things didn’t quite go as he’d planned. But that bout was in 2018 and a lot has changed … at least for Cooper.
“I think he’s the same fighter from when I fought him,” Cooper told MMA Weekly. “He just wants to wrestle. That’s pretty much all he wants to do. And, yeah, I’ve grown from that time, I just made one mistake that cost it all. So, I fixed that mistake.”
Their rematch, now almost three years in the making, almost happened in 2019 but Magomedkerimov was unable to make the fight. In the PFL format, you never know who you’ll be up against and rematches aren’t made for the drama, it’s all about who you beat and how which is something Cooper likes.
“I was ready to fight anybody,” he said. “You got to be ready to fight anybody in the PFL because it’s a season. Things can change, but I think he was just tired from the first fight and he couldn’t continue, or he didn’t want to. He didn’t want to risk it. So, yeah, doesn’t matter. I’ll fight anybody, but it’s awesome that we get to fight again now and I can erase that loss from my memory.”
Cooper is heading into the PFL championships off a huge win over former UFC veteran and fan-favorite, Rory MacDonald. But that win isn’t what he would consider the best of his career.
“The win over Rory was one of my biggest,” he says. “But the biggest win is gonna be Jake Shields just because of his accolades in the sport and how much of a pioneer he is in the sport.”
Despite his loss to Magomedkerimov in 2018, Cooper promises there will be a KO this time around.
“It will be a knockout,” he said. “I don’t know what round but I will knock him out.”
The PLF Championships take place on Wednesday, Oct. 27 and begins at 4:30 p.m ET. The card features names like Kayla Harrison, Claressa Shields and Chris Wade. The entire card can be viewed on ESPN+ in the United States.