The PFL 2021 season is shaping up to be a good one. Among the most notable new roster additions is Rory MacDonald — and last year’s champion, Ray Cooper III, is not impressed.
After dropping his Bellator welterweight title in a rematch against Douglas Lima on October 26, 2019, MacDonald parted ways with the promotion. Now he finds himself once again on the hunt for a million dollars at the end of the PFL tournament.
“Just another fighter,” Cooper said of MacDonald to SCMP MMA. “He’s not the same that he was when he was fighting in the UFC. That’s what I think. He’s not the same. He’s just another guy and I feel like they’re hyping him up so much. He came off a loss his last fight so I don’t know what is the big hype about him. Because this is my division and if he comes in here and thinks he’s gonna run through everybody and thinks he’s gonna run through me, he’s got a different thing coming to him.
“I just don’t think Rory’s a threat. It doesn’t really interest me. Fighting Magomed [Magomedkerimov] is what interests me the most.”
Going eventless in 2020, the PFL saw Hawaii’s Cooper (20-7-1) cash out as the winner of their 2019 welterweight tournament. To get there, “Bradda Boy” took out the likes of Chris Curtis and former UFC vet David Michaud.
A year prior, Ray Cooper truly burst onto the scene with four monster TKO wins — two of which came over welterweight legend and former Strikeforce king, Jake Shields. Unfortunately for the Pearl City native, he came up short in that year’s tournament’s finals against Magomed Magomedkerimov.
As for Canada’s MacDonald, the former UFC title challenger left the promotion that he made his name in in 2016. From there, he would go on to capture Bellator gold and go 3-2-1 in the process.