As he continues his pursuit of a PFL welterweight title defense, Ray Cooper III continues to put his journey in perspective.
The Pearl City native remembers the feeling of seeing his father, Ray Cooper Jr., fight at the Neal S. Blaisdell Center and accompanying him during his walk to the cage. Ray Cooper III’s MMA dreams were big back then, but he’s lived up to them and then some, racking up over $1 million in winnings.
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Cooper’s 2021 PFL season was off to a roaring start after he defeated Jason Ponet via submission at PFL 2 on April 29. He’ll look to carry that momentum against Nikolai Aleksakhin (24-5) on Thursday at PFL 5, which begins at 3 p.m. HST on ESPN2.
“When I was little, when I was watching my dad fight in the Blaisdell, it was a crazy…crazy to think that I’m living that dream now,” Cooper told KHON2 sports director Rob DeMello. “It’s awesome that I can live it now and just being able to see it come forth from when I was a kid watching SuperBrawls and I’m living my dream and it’s just that little kid in me that’s just wanting to just keep living that dream and now I’m doing it and I’m gon’ run with this thing ‘til I break down and my body doesn’t allow me to fight anymore and I don’t think that’s ever gonna happen. It’s just that little kid inside of me, I can finally do it now and I’m doing it and I was born for this. Plenty people say they was, but not many people understand that I was really born into this, me and my cousins, my brothers, it’s just that little kid in me that wanted to compete and be the best.
“Probably a couple of weeks ago, we was talking about it. When I was young, I would still ride my bike and my dad used to run and I used to follow him and now my dad, he follows me on a bike and now I run. It’s pretty much the same thing but we just reversed and every time when I fight, I just picture myself when I was young, back when I was wrestling, I’d be walking on the mat and my dad would be right there and it’s the same thing and it’s just an awesome feeling that I can live this and live my dream and keeping pushing myself to the limits I know I can achieve and I can push past it and I just feel really blessed that I can do this.”