On Thursday night, Ray Cooper III came out for his PFL 3 main event against Jake Shields as if ... well, as if Shields had beaten up his dad.
As it turns out, Shields did in fact beat Cooper’s father, Ray Cooper Jr., in a 2004 bout in Hawaii. Fifteen years later, Cooper got family revenge with a dominant performance in a second-round TKO win over the former Strikeforce champion.
The time of the stoppage in the welterweight main event on the campus of George Washington University in Washington, D.C., was 2:09.
“I know I’m good on the ground, I know he’s good on the ground,” Cooper (14-4) said. “But I know what I can do with anyone in the game. Jake is a tough guy, been in a lot of big-time spots, but I know I could come out with a win.”
Cooper set the tone early when he clipped Shields (32-10-1) and opened a cut over his left eye. Cooper played a smart game, as he picked Shields apart in the standup, but also refused to follow the submission expert to the ground.
This pattern continued in the second until he rocked Shields with a left to the jaw that dropped him face-first to the mat. Cooper then unleashed a ground-and-pound assault until the bout was waved off.
Under the PFL’s regular-season points system, Cooper earned five points for the win. Fighters earn six points for a first-round finish; five for a second-round finish; four for a third-round finish; and three for a decision victory.
The co-feature bout was a major upset, as Ukraine’s Pavel Kusch, a +885 underdog, scored a second-round submission victory over Abubakar Nurmagomedov, the cousin of UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov.
Nurmagomedov (14-2) won the opening round, as he landed kicks high and low and dictated the flow of the round. Kusch (23-5), though, dropped Nurmagomedov early in the second with big left hook that landed flush on the jaw. He followed up on the grounded Nurmagomedov and landed punches until he was able to get Nurmagomedov’s back and get into position for a rear-naked choke. The tapout victory was Kusch’s 20th career submission win.
In a welterweight matchup that won’t be remembered as a technical masterpiece, but certainly had no lack of heart, Rick Story earned a unanimous-decision victory over Yuri Villefort (11-6) on across-the-board scores of 30-27.
Story (20-9), fighting for the first time since his UFC 202 loss to Donald Cerrone just shy of two years ago, showed ring rust in his return fight. But he kept pushing forward in a bout that was contested all over the place. Story was at his most effective when he peppered Villefort with body shots and he also held his own on the ground with Villefort, scoring three takedowns over the course of the bout and never letting Villefort gain any sustained offense.
Story won for the fourth time in his past five fights, while Villefort, a former UFC and Strikeforce competitor, had a five-fight win streak snapped.
Dagestan’s Shamil Gamzatov (12-0) added another name to his undefeated ledger with a unanimous decision victory over Ultimate Fighter 19 winner Eddie Gordon (8-5) in a middleweight matchup. The judges’ scores were 30-27 and a pair of 29-28s.
In a bout mainly contested in the standup, neither fighter came close to scoring a finish. But Gamzatov was more active with his offense, using a mix of kicks, jabs, and work in the clinch to score points. Gordon, for his part, threw wild, looping haymakers through the fight, but never could land the one-shot knockout he was hunting for right up until the end.
The main card middleweight opener saw Boston veteran John Howard (26-13) earn his first victory via finish since June 2013. Howard earned five points in the middleweight standings by making Gasan Umalatov (17-6-1) submit to a rear-naked choke.
Howard set the tone in the opening round, as he sent Umalatov scrambling with a nice right uppercut in the clinch. Howard scored a takedown in the waning seconds of the opening round and got his opponent’s back, but time ran out before he could work a submission.
There was no such problem in the second round, though, as Howard controlled the action before setting up the choke and getting the finish at 2:59 for his third win in his past four fights.
In an undercard happening of note, Andre Lobato was announced as a split decision winner in his middleweight matchup against Rex Harris, and even had an interview in the cage in which he talked about his victory, before it was announced that the District of Columbia athletic commission made a mistake and Harris was actually the victor.
Full PFL 3 results can be found here.