Monday, December 31st, American welterweight prospect Ray Cooper III will be in action in New York City, competing for $1 million dollars in the Professional Fight League tournament finals. He will be competing against fellow prospect Magomed Magomedkerimov in the main event, as Cooper looks to inch closer to a UFC contract. Cooper represents the 808 Fight Factory, a camp in Hawaii that has been getting on the map in recent times. Let’s take a closer look at this prospect as this week’s “Prospect Spotlight.”
Boxing: Ray Cooper III has superior boxing skills that have carried him to his impressive 17-5 record thus far in his career. He’s accumulated all of that at just the age of 25. First off, Cooper has great hand speed and power. He throws quick combinations that not only land, but land with force. He moves very well, using solid footwork and head movement while throwing those hands. He has one-punch knockout power, and when you combine that with how aggressive he is in the cage, the fight can end in a flash. He doesn’t throw many kicks, but he doesn’t need to.
Takedown Defense: Despite the fact that Cooper is not really a ground fighter and has struggled a bit on the ground, he does have good takedown defense. He’s very good at defending shots and keeping his opponent on the outside. He sprawls, breaks and keeps things on the feet. Just watch both of his bouts with Jake Shields. In both bouts against Shields, Cooper picked him apart from a distance, defended his shots and kept him where he was uncomfortable. A lot of that comes from his quickness, footwork and athleticism. If he keeps fights up with this takedown defense, he greatly increases his chances of winning.
Submission Defense: Despite having very good takedown defense, Cooper does struggle when he’s taken down to the ground. He’s shown improvements, but anybody with a solid grappling and submission game will cause problems for him. Of his five losses, four are by submission (one of those he tapped to strikes). That’s why this upcoming fight against Magomed Magomedkerimov is so dangerous for him. Cooper is a similarly skilled striker, but Magomedkerimov is a superior wrestler and submission grappler.
Exciting Tenured UFC Fighter: Win or lose this weekend, Cooper has proven that even at the young age of 25, he’s a future UFC fighter. He continues to improve from fight to fight and has been extremely impressive with PFL. Will he ever be a UFC Champion? I have my doubts. But there is no doubt he’ll be a top-end welterweight that spends a lot of time on the UFC roster and wins some exciting, impressive fights. He will be another exciting, skilled Hawaiian fighter that could build the UFC’s presence in that area, especially seeing how successful it just was for Bellator.