Ray Cooper III entered the cage to face Zane Kamaka, his adopted cousin, after weeks of trash talk leading into PFL 1.
That clearly wasn’t enough time to share their feelings.
Cooper and Kamaka found themselves in each other’s faces with nobody between them shortly before they were supposed to fight, the in-cage official and commission supervisors seemingly oblivious to what was happening for a few moments. Eventually, the referee stepped between them, just as he’d do when Cooper forced Kamaka to submit at 4:29 of the second round to settle the familial bad blood.
“This fight didn’t have to happen, but it’s over and I’m moving on,” Cooper said. “I wanted to end this fight early, would’ve preferred to get the job done in one, but I’ll take the five points and get ready for the next fight.”
The bout was in question Wednesday after Kamaka missed weight, but Cooper’s decision to continue with the fight paid off. A finalist in last year’s welterweight tournament, Cooper chose to risk injury and fight for bonus points against Kamaka instead of taking the three points already awarded due to the walkover victory. He leaves PFL 1 with five points in the welterweight standings.
Cooper quickly came across the cage to start the bout, pouncing on Kamaka and taking him to the mat. Kamaka looked to do damage from his back with upkicks and armbar attempts, but Cooper was unfazed. Kamaka eventually got to his feet, but Cooper landed a single-leg takedown in transition and landed some heavy blows from the top as Kamaka rolled into the cage. Cooper finished the scramble on top, finding his way into half guard and keeping top position as Kamaka unsuccessfully fished for an arm submission near the end of the round.
"I knew he wasn't going to stand with me," Cooper said. "Right off the bat he backed up, so I'm not going to have that any more, I'm not going to have people backing up on me, if you back up I'll take you down, and you can't run from there."
Kamaka again found himself against the cage to start the second as Cooper unleashed some big hooks before going to the mat. After a few minutes of grappling, Cooper finally found the mount before taking Kamaka’s back, then securing the choke. Kamaka tapped soon after, but Cooper didn’t quite relent until the official forced him off.
Cooper admitted to waiting until the last possible moment to release the choke.
"I'm not going to stop until the ref pulls me off."
The fighters trash talked briefly after Kamaka got to his feet, but eventually shared a hug, albeit with little enthusiasm from the loser.
"I kind of get a little heated after the fight, it was personal for us, I get kind of mad," Cooper said. "I can control it a little bit but I was just saying to them, 'this didn't have to happen, we didn't need to do this.'"