Professional Fighters League’s Ray Cooper III is perhaps the frontrunner for 2018’s breakthrough fighter of the year. In his next contest, the 25-year-old prospect will face a familiar foe in Jake Shields on Oct. 20 at Entertainment and Sports Arena in Washington D.C.
In the build-up to the clash, here are five things that you might not know about the fighter known as “Bradda Boy.”
1. His wins have all come by stoppage.
Cooper III was still a teenager when he started his professional career back in July 2012 with a K). Eight seconds after the bell had sounded, his opponent was lying on the canvas, having fallen victim. The Hawaiian has stopped every opponent in bouts that he has won. 10 (67 percent) of his wins have come by KO, with a further 5 (33 percent) via submission.
2. His father was a fighter.
Ray Cooper Sr., who is rather confusingly known as Cooper Jr., was also an MMA competitor. His influence was instrumental in encouraging his son to enter the sport. Cooper Jr. compiled a professional record of 14-9 over his 1-year career (1997-2008). He competed from lightweight all the way up to light-heavyweight. Considering Cooper Jr.’s moniker was “Bradda,” it is not surprising his son opted for “Bradda Boy.” Perhaps the younger Cooper’s relaxed demeanour is in part due to being around the fight game from a young age.
3. He trains out of a garage.
Cooper III stated in an interview heading into his PFL 6 bout, “I just trained with my dad and my two brothers … That’s it.” The location of that training, a gym his father constructed in what was a garage. The family have named their team Lion of Judah. Although he trains at such a modest facility, Cooper III is adamant he is well prepared for his fight career, and recent results to date certainly testify to that.
4. He and his father share an opponent.
Back in Aug. 2002, Cooper III’s father fought and beat a young Shields by decision at Warriors Quest 6. Two years later, in 2004, the pair met again at Shooto Hawaii. This time around, Shields came out the victor via rear-naked choke. Fast forward 14 years to July 2018 and Cooper III faced the very same opponent at PFL 3. The clash with the former Strikeforce middleweight champion was the biggest fight of Cooper III’s career. He came out victorious by second round TKO, and in doing so avenged his father and elevated his own name in the sport. Next up for Cooper III is a rematch at PFL 10 on Oct. 20. Currently the record stands at Cooper family 2, Shields 1.
5. He has the fastest knockout out in PFL history.
Barely more than a month removed from vanquishing his father’s nemesis, Cooper III met Pavel Kusch at PFL 6, on Aug. 16, 2018. The contest lasted all of 18 seconds. Cooper III’s TKO victory, which was the fastest in PFL history, further solidified his position as a top welterweight prospect. However, and remarkably, the 18-second blowout ranked only No. 4 in Cooper III’s list of fastest wins. He has also recorded 12-second, 8-second and 4-second knockouts.