Following a win in the 2019 PFL tournament championship finals in December, welterweight Ray Cooper III was looking forward to continuing his momentum in 2020 when the novel coronavirus hit.
With lockdowns being imposed worldwide and sports being placed on hold, the PFL suspended its seasonal format for 2020, leaving fighters like Cooper to their own devices for the time being.
“I felt really bad about the season not being able to continue,” Cooper told MMAWeekly.com. “I was looking forward to fighting. Right now I’m just taking a break and relaxing.”
Though the PFL has had to make changes to its plans for 2020, Cooper has not altered much in his fight preparations. It’s been in Cooper’s personal life that things have seen the most alterations.
“(The coronavirus lockdown) didn’t really change much,” said Cooper. “I’m training every day whether I’m fighting or not. I’m staying ready to fight in the PFL again.
“I had twins. It’s been an awesome experience. I had three kids already, so it’s five kids altogether. It’s really been awesome to have them in my life and make the family bigger.”
With the PFL’s 2020 season suspended, the promotion has launched it’s “Run it Back” series, devoted to taking a look at some its fighters and their time in the promotion. Recently Cooper was a part of the series, included in part for his duo of fights against Jake Shields.
“I feel grateful to get to fight Jake,” Cooper said. “He’s an awesome fighter. He beat my dad. It was awesome to fight him. He is a legend in this sport. I really looked up to him.
“I got to fight him twice, just to see where my level is at, it was awesome to fight him. I’m thankful to the PFL for making it happen.”
While Shields had defeated Cooper’s father in 2004, it was not getting even that motivated Ray, but rather the opportunity to prove himself against the fighter he looked up to.
“It wasn’t really revenge,” said Cooper. “He just competed against my dad. He beat my dad. It was just me being really competitive and pushing myself and fighting the best guy in the division.”
Ray Cooper III Relives His PFL Debut Against Jake Shields | Run It Back
(Video courtesy of PFL MMA)