Residents of Hawaii are certainly no stranger to New Year’s Eve fireworks, but Pearl City’s Ray Cooper III took that to a whole new level this past December.
Cooper, triumphantly closed out 2019 with a knockout victory in New York City, claiming his first PFL welterweight championship and $1-million dollar tournament grand prize.
“Yeah, it was just a real defining moment for me. Just how fast everything came and how fast I got back to the finals and just to get there was a task in itself,” Cooper told KHON2 Sports Director Rob DeMello. “To win that whole that thing with all that was at stake, on the line, with the money, and with the championship.”
Thanks to the PFL, that championship moment is now being re-lived as the organization has launched its “run it back” series, as fighters take fans on a journey through those milestone moments and even provides the champ an opportunity to take a step back and appreciate the accomplishment from a different perspective.
“It was kind of awesome watching it from the beginning to the end and especially at the end of my last one, having Mike Tyson hold my hand up it was something that actually nobody never gets to do and it was a dream come true for me because I used to watch him fight,” said Cooper. “He’s the king of knockouts and it was just a real awesome moment. Sometimes we can’t really focus on that moment because it’s going by so fast and to have this run-it-back, it made me feel how special that moment was.”
For many, the year 2020 has been a challenging one thus far as health concerns over COVID-19 has put lives on hold, but for Cooper the magic has continued. Last week, he and his wife Kelly welcomed their fourth and fifth children, twin boys born last Tuesday.
“There’s nothing that can compare to your child being born. It’s just a real awesome feeling just to have your family grow. I have a big family too, I come from a big family and so all the love that we give for each other it’s just so amazing and I thank god every day for blessing me with this, my wife and the family that I have.”
So, with many around the world fighting to find normalcy on a daily basis with lockdowns and stay at home orders, the proud father and self-admitted home-body says things couldn’t be more normal.
“I stay home anyway, it doesn’t really matter to me,” said Cooper with a smile.
Cooper remains surrounded by his growing ohana and training at the iconic Cooper family garage, along side his father Ray Cooper Jr, brothers, and cousins revved-up on retaining his world title.
“I have the advantage over everybody right now because everybody trains in gyms or they go to sports facilities to get their workout in and it’s not good for the average MMA fighter that has to go to the gym and fight. I just stay home and do my regular hardcore training everyday and get ready,” said Cooper.
“You have one love for your family and that’s the only one that can get you through everything. That’s what I have with my family with my mom, my dad, my brothers. We’re just tight and that’s how we are. We’re real close and we keep each other close and we get through anything”
Currently there’s no timetable on when the 2020 PFL season expects to get underway, but for the time being, you can watch PFL’s run it back episode with Cooper by clicking here.