PFL welterweight king Ray Cooper III is primed and ready ahead of his highly-anticipated playoff bout with Rory MacDonald, and he isn’t planning on leaving it in the judges’ hands.

Following the cancellation of the 2020 PFL season, Cooper came into 2021 as almost a forgotten champion in the midst of the hype surrounding MacDonald’s signing with the league. Cooper responded to the forgetful fans by earning back-to-back dominant victories over Jason Ponet and Nikolay Aleksakhin in the regular season.

Many believed that Cooper and MacDonald were destined to meet in the PFL finals this season, but everything changed like betting slots online after MacDonald’s controversial loss to  Gleison Tibau in the season finale. MacDonald fell to the former UFC lightweight Tibau by decision despite seemingly dominating the fight in every aspect from start to finish.

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Joao Zeferino ended up earning the top overall seed, while MacDonald and Cooper fell to seeds 2 and 3 respectively. While he doesn’t feel any ill-will towards MacDonald, he’s looking to beat him in style.

“I’m a bad matchup for him,” MacDonald said in an exclusive interview with LowKickMMA. “The pressure will be a problem for him and I can’t wait to knock him out.”

Cooper and MacDonald fought on the same card in the PFL regular-season finale, and the Hawaiian-born welterweight got the chance to watch the MacDonald vs. Tibau fight shortly after his own. Many around the MMA community thought it was a clear robbery to give Tibau the win on the judges’ scorecard, and Cooper is not a fan of the current system.

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Cooper’s style is aggressive and forward-pushing, leading to a plethora of finishes over his career and dominant victories. He agrees with MacDonald that things need to change when it comes to how fights are scored going forward.

“These judges aren’t fighters, they don’t know any aspect of the game,” Cooper said. “It’s a tough topic because these guys are ruining people’s lives with their decision-making. They don’t know what the hell they’re doing. It’s weird, and someone needs to change this.”

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Cooper will have a chance to earn a second-straight PFL welterweight crown, but first, he must work past the fan-favorite MacDonald in the semifinals on Aug. 13.

What are your thoughts on the current state of judging in MMA?

Curtis Calhoun is a Combat Sports Contributor based in Seattle, Washington. After a longtime dream of becoming a sports journalist, he was able to accomplish his goals upon graduating from Washington State University in 2016.