FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Perhaps Ray Cooper III ought to really feel additional motivation heading into his 2021 PFL Championship welterweight last in opposition to Magomed Magomedkerimov.
After all, it was Magomedkerimov (29-5) who denied Cooper (23-7-1) a PFL title and $1 million in 2018. None of that appears to be weighing on Cooper’s thoughts, although, heading into Wednesday’s rematch with the identical prize at stake
“I really don’t have any hate towards him,” Cooper advised reporters, together with MMA Junkie, on Monday at a PFL media day. “It’s just competition. I like to get back what I lost and show that I’ve improved from the last fight. The most important thing is winning the title and getting to this position in the final. That’s my concern.”
On New Year’s Eve 2018, Magomedkerimov choked Cooper into submission within the second spherical of their title struggle. That victory was only one in a 13-fight profitable streak that dates again to June 2015. Cooper took the loss that evening, however he bounced again in 2019 to say the 170-pound title, making him the defending champ heading into the rematch.
Not that he’s diminishing Cooper’s enhancements since then, however Magomedkerimov mentioned he doesn’t anticipate them to go a full 5 rounds this time, both.
“Two years passed, he wasn’t wasting his time. He’s been having fights and training,” Magomedkerimov advised reporters by means of a translator. “He might have certain things (new). But so have I. I’ve been training, putting a lot of work in. I think the outcome is gonna be the same, but we’ll just see how it goes.”
One factor is for sure: Neither man lacks confidence earlier than they run it again.
“He’s a great fighter. I have no room to relax. I cannot make any mistakes,” Magomedkerimov mentioned. “Just like any fight, I have to approach smart. But I see myself having certain benefits and certain advantages that make me feel confident.”
Said Cooper, “I don’t really got to watch out for anything. He better watch out for what I’m gonna do to him. He can catch some pressure coming to him, and hopefully he can try to adapt, but I don’t think so.”
2021 PFL Championship takes place Wednesday at Hard Rock Live in Hollywood, Fla. The card airs on ESPN2 and streams on ESPN+ after prelims on ESPN+.