Pearl City’s Ray Cooper III advanced to the PFL playoffs with a unanimous decision victory over Nikolai Aleksakhin at PFL 5 on Thursday at Ocean Casino Resort in Atlantic City, N.J.
The judges scored the welterweight fight 30-27, 29-28, 29-28 in favor of Cooper, who outlasted Aleksakhin in the three-round fight. Cooper improved to 22-7-1 in his professional MMA career, while Aleksakhin dropped to 24-6.
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Cooper, the reigning welterweight champion, barely advanced to the PFL playoffs with the victory.
Cooper entered Thursday 1-0 in the 2021 PFL season after a submission victory over Jason Ponet on April 29. Heading into Thursday, Cooper was already docked a point in the PFL standings for missing weight on Wednesday. Missing weight also made him unable to gain any points with a win over Aleksakhin. The best he could do was not lose any points by winning, and the Pearl City native did just that.
The first round of the PFL playoffs for welterweights begins on Aug. 19 at the Seminole Hard Rock Cafe & Casino in Hollywood, Fla. Cooper, the 3 seed, will face former UFC and Bellator star Rory MacDonald in the 2-3 matchup.