Heading into his July PFL bout against Jake Shields, welterweight Ray Cooper III was undeniably an underdog, but managed to overcome that and pick up the biggest win of his career with a second-round TKO.
The gravity of the win is not lost on Cooper, but more importantly it’s allowed him to continue to work his way towards the PFL postseason.
“I did good,” Cooper told MMAWeekly.com. “I wish I would have got him out on the first round, but I’ve got to pick my punches a little bit more.
“It was a good win for me. I know I’m just looking forward to the tournament and was looking to get past the first round into the second round.”
With how a fighter wins determining seeding for the PFL post season, Cooper knows that he is among the top guys in the promotion, but he feels he should be at the absolute top thanks to a win over a name like Shields.
“I beat the best guy in the division (in Shields),” said Cooper. “I feel like I’m the first seed, even though in the rankings there’s another guy. Jake beat everybody, so I feel like I’m in the lead in the tournament.
“I feel confident. I beat the best guy, so I should beat everyone else too.”
On August 16 in Atlantic City, New Jersey, Cooper (14-5) will get to further his case for a top seeding when he faces Pavel Kusch (23-5) in a 170-pound main event at PFL 6.
“(Kusch) is coming off a good win too, but I feel I match up good against him,” Cooper said. “He’s got good ground, but I beat the best ground guy already, so I feel I’m going to stand up and probably finish him in the first round.”
Being a part of the PFL’s season-based format, Cooper feels like he can finally have the kind of bouts he was looking for but not able to secure in the past.
“It’s way better than I was fighting before,” said Cooper. “The ranking system is right how it’s supposed to be. If you win, you challenge the winners; you don’t challenge guys who just talk and get fights. The way we fight is awesome.
“I try not to think about the money. I think about the fight at hand and each fight. Fighting at the highest level, the money will come, but I enjoy challenging myself and fighting at this level.”