Fourteen years after the rivalry between Hawaii mixed martial arts pioneer Ray “Braddah” Cooper Jr and Jake Shields was left even at 1-1, it’s ‘game on’ this summer in the Professional Fighters League.
However, it will be Ray Cooper III (13-4) looking to score a win for the legendary name. The 25-year old will face the 39-year old Shields (32-9-1), a former UFC contender and six-time welterweight world champion.
The younger Cooper and Shields will main event the PFL’s July 5 card in Washington, D.C. as part of the organization’s revolutionary regular season leading up to a $1 million welterweight tournament.
Ray Cooper III was 11-years old and even led his father to the ring at the Neal Blaisdell Center for the aforementioned Shooto Championship loss in 2004. Since that night Cooper III says he has been on a mission for redemption.
“The first time I saw my dad fight him that was around the time I could remember already what was happening. When I saw that fight, I knew I was going to fight that guy. I’m going to fight him when I get of age and it’s so awesome that it’s happening now,” Cooper III told KHON2 Sports Director Rob DeMello.
Cooper III trains with his father out of their Pearl City home gym. Cooper Jr, who was a big name in the sport in it’s early days, had a record of 14-9 and scored a win over Shields in 2002 in Honolulu.
“Everything is timing. His mentality is right right now. As he grew up and he kept talking about (Shields) in the back of my mind I was like, it might happen. Jake was still fighting and still on top and still good. Sooner or later I kind of thought it would come around,” Cooper Jr said.
The PFL, formerly known as the World Series of Fighting, has put together a revolutionary year long season where fighters earn points based on their methods of victory. The top eight qualifiers will be seeded in a tournament later this year that earn a divisional champion $1 million. Cooper III is confident that he can make history as the organization’s first winner.
“The number one reason why I wanted to fight in this promotion is because Jake Shields was fighting in it and he was one of the top guys. He beat the UFC champion (Tyron Woodley), he beat Dan Henderson, he beat Robbie Lawler the former welterweight champion, so a win over him puts me at the top of any organization. That’s what I’m looking forward to and I’m not looking past him but I’m looking to go all the way and win this whole thing,” added Cooper III.
PFL 3 headlined by Cooper III and Shields takes place July 5 at Charles E. Smith Center in Washington D.C. The final six bouts of the night will air on the NBC Sports Network at 3:00pm HST.
Team Cooper asks fans Please come out and attend his training camp benefit bash concert on June 3, sponsored by HIFINEST.
Presale: $25 Door: $35 | All ages welcome| Raffles|Live music Kapena, PeniDean, Mahkess| @THE REBULIK | All proceeds towards Ray Cooper III