As Pearl City’s Ray Cooper III looks to take another step closer to a second straight PFL welterweight playoff appearance, Waianae’s Zane Kamaka saw his million-dollar dreams dashed at the scale.
Kamaka, who missed weight prior to a season opening loss to Cooper two-months ago, missed the 170-pound limit for his second fight against Andre Fialho scheduled for Thursday, and was expelled from the organization.
For Cooper (18-6), he will look for his second win in a row when he faces John Howard (27-15-1) on the main card which gets underway at 3:30pm HST on ESPN2.
Howard, who is a 14-time UFC veteran is coming off of a loss to Magomed Magomedkerimov, the reigning PFL champion who has a win over Cooper. According to UFC Hall of Famer and KHON2 MMA analyst Frank Trigg, Cooper’s background as a four-time state wrestling champion could play a big role in this bout.
“John Howard always wants to shoot after getting hit hard. You think Ray’s not going to hit him hard at some point? Even if let’s say the first round It’s the worst round that Ray has ever been in, 10-8, worst round he’s ever been in, he’ll go into the second round and will still hit John hard enough to make him want to shoot,” Trigg told KHON2 Sports Director Rob DeMello.
“I hope Ray uses his wrestling a lot more than we’ve seen him use it in the past. He has that typical wrestlers disease of knowing that you can’t take me down, they can’t beat me in the ground, and I got one punch knockout power. Why am I even going to bother to wrestle? It’s very taxing, but if Ray sticks to that wrestling, he can pick John apart. Rays best chance to finish this fight, is on the sprawl and brawl,” added Trigg.
The PFL 2019 season at the welterweight level begins with 12 athletes competing in a regular season of three matches each. The top-eight will then make the bracket style playoffs which leads to a final matchup with the winner earning PFL champion status and a $1-million grand prize.
Cooper, went undefeated through the season and tournament until losing in the final last year.