Jason Jackson Looks Ahead to Fighting Replacement Ray Cooper at PFL vs. Bellator

PFL
February 14, 2024
Jason Jackson is the type of guy to make lemonade when handed lemons.

While most fighters would be annoyed by a late change in opponent, Bellator MMA welterweight champion Jackson was ecstatic to hear that he’d be facing Professional Fighters League star Ray Cooper III in place of the injured Magomed Magomedkerimov at PFL vs. Bellator on Feb. 24.

“The reason I got excited is because I believe [Cooper] is a way more complete fighter than Magomedkerimov,” Jackson said on the PFL vs. Bellator Media Call on Friday. “I strive on adversity, and I know what this guy can do. I look at him like a young Mike Tyson, so it makes me work even harder.”

Jackson is on the best run of his career, having won his last seven fights that culminated with the capture of the Bellator 170-pound crown. Jackson topped the likes of Benson Henderson, Paul Daley and Douglas Lima to get a crack at Yaroslav Amosov’s belt, and he unseated the unbeaten Ukrainian to win the throne at Bellator 301 in 2023.

Unfortunately for the 33-year-old known as “The Ass-Kicking Machine,” Jackson still feels slighted by the masses and hasn’t felt the spoils of being a world champion. He hopes to change that with a win over the dangerous “Bradda Boy.”

“I’ve watched this guy fight and seen what he’s accomplished in the PFL in such a short time because he’s still young,” Jackson noted. “It’s going to be awesome putting a name like Ray Cooper III amongst the rest of the names I’ve collected.”

At 31, two-time PFL welterweight tourney winner Cooper has amassed an impressive resume of his own. With wins over Rory MacDonald, Chris Curtis and Magomedkerimov, Cooper is one of the most decorated fighters in the PFL’s history. While he won the 2019 and 2021 brackets, the Hawaiian has dropped two of his last three outings. In his last time out, Cooper struggled and ultimately failed to reach the middleweight limit against 40-year-old Derek Brunson, and he suffered a decision loss to the aging vet.

Cooper claimed he was not seriously training when he got the call to face Jackson, but he was open to the opportunity. The Hawaiian understands that he is racing against the clock and that a win over Jackson could provide the momentum his career needs.

“I still fight the same, but everybody just forgets when you lose one time, and they just throw you off to the side,” Cooper explained. “As an athlete and a true competitor, you believe in yourself and don’t need anybody else to believe in you. I had one bad night in November, but I’m going to get right back at it.”

Neither fighter is interested in the concocted rivalry between PFL and Bellator fighters. Jackson is a rising champion looking to stake his claim as the best welterweight in the world, while Cooper wants to showcase the gas still left in his tank. To accommodate Cooper taking the fight on late notice, the promotion bumped the match from welterweight to a catchweight of 182 pounds.

“I would rather have a longer training camp, but it doesn’t matter,” Cooper expressed. “I’m coming back to right where I left off when I won the championship. I’m excited to face Jason, the Bellator champion because I know he’s tough.”

“This is like an audition or a job interview,” Jackson replied. “I have to prove to these guys that I am who I am, which is ‘The Ass-Kicking Machine.’ People always laugh at that name, but I always have to prove that’s who I am. Don’t let the smile fool you.”

Reference: https://www.sherdog.com/news/news/Jason-Jackson-Looks-Ahead-to-Fighting-Replacement-Ray-Cooper-at-PFL-vs-Bellator-192572

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