KEY POINTS

  • Ray Cooper III's star is on the rise after a dominant season debut
  • He is set to face former title contender Rory MacDonald on August 19
  • A win would secure a place among the great fighters out of Hawaii

Hawaii, over the years, has produced a number of world-class talents in the sport of mixed martial arts (MMA).

From early stars like the one and only Kimo Leopoldo to all-time greats like BJ Penn and Max Holloway, the island has been well represented inside the cage in various MMA promotions.

Now, a native of Pearl City has the chance to put his name among the greats and possibly even establish himself as the best MMA fighter to come out of Hawaii.

Ray Cooper III, a second-generation MMA athlete, followed in the footsteps of his father Ray Jr. and began competing professionally in 2012.

He competed mainly in the regional circuit before getting a big break on a global stage with the Professional Fighters League (PFL) back in 2018.

In his debut with the league, Cooper immediately made an impact as he stopped former multiple-time world champion, Jake Shields, in just two rounds.

With the win, he was also able to avenge his father’s loss to Shields back in 2004.

Cooper went all the way to the finals of the 2018 PFL Welterweight tournament, only to come up short against Magomed Magomedkerimov.

The following year, Cooper once again found himself in the finals, but this time he made the most of his opportunity and defeated David Michaud to become the 2019 PFL welterweight champion.

This season, “Bradda Boy” is once again primed for a PFL world title run.

Cooper was dominant in his season debut, choking out Jason Ponet in just over a minute and then sealing his spot in the postseason with a unanimous decision win over Nikolay Aleksakhin.

In this season’s playoffs, Cooper faces arguably his biggest test yet in former Bellator world champion and UFC title contender Rory MacDonald.

The two will battle it out in the welterweight semi-finals, with the winner inching one step closer to PFL gold and a million-dollar payday.

The Cooper-MacDonald matchup is one that fans have been clamoring for since the start of the season, and now they get to see it--with a world title shot at stake.

Cooper, for his part, has long expressed his desire to square off against MacDonald.

“I feel like it’ll be a good fight. I would come at him like I would come at everybody. It doesn’t matter who’s in front of me. I’m coming in the same way. I’m coming at everybody. If it goes to the ground, it goes to the ground. Just keep it standing? Keep it standing. I can fight anywhere, and I can’t wait to compete against him,” Cooper said during a post-fight scrum at the end of PFL 2 back in April.

If Cooper can get past MacDonald, he notches arguably the biggest win of his career.

If he can once again go all the way and capture the 2021 PFL welterweight championship, he joins a select club of two-time titleholders.

More importantly, he secures his status as the top 170-pounder in the league for the second-straight season.

If Cooper can achieve that, then there’s no doubt that he earns a spot amongst the top fighters to come out of Hawaii.