Jake Shields-Ray Cooper III isn’t a trilogy, but it also isn’t not.
World Series of Fighting, the spiritual successor to the Professional Fighters League promoted a brother-versus-brother fight a little less than two years ago. It was one of of the more depressing fight in recent memory. On Thursday the PFL is going to put on a truly novel fight, in the same vein. Jake Shields, one of the greatest and most unheralded fighters in history, as far as my extensive(cursory) research suggests, will become the first fighter in MMA history to have fought both a father and his son, when he steps in the PFL cage to fight Ray Cooper III. These are truly amazing times we are living in.
Jake Shields fought Ray Cooper twice. Ray Cooper won the first fight by majority decision. It was early in Shields’ career, his first fight training under Cesar Gracie. By all accounts, Cooper got shields tired and ground out a close decision.Unfortunately, that fight seems to have been lost to history, or at least isn’t easily accessible on the internet, but the second fight in available on UFC Fight Pass. When Shields and Cooper met the second time, Shields was on a bit of a tear, having recent victories over Hayato Sakurai, Milton Viera and Akiri Kikuchi as well as a draw with Kazuo Misaki. It was an impressive run, and shapes the second encounter with Cooper as a retribution of sorts. So, as we prepare ourselves to watch a son try to extract on the man who beat up his father, let us look back some 14 years, and see what Jake Shields did to deserve this fight.
Ray Cooper comes out tentative, but Shields is quick to start throwing strikes, firing off a few punches and kicks. Shields gets a bit reckless with one of his kicks, Cooper grabs it and takes Jake down.
Cooper spends the next 20 or so seconds stymied in Shields’ half-guard and decides to stand up from the position. Shields isn’t ready to give up the position so easily however, and works for some sort of leglock from the ground. Cooper fights off the attempt, goes to spin out and fleetingly ends up with Shields’ back. Shields scrambles, rolls, and ends up on his feet, working for a takedown in the corner.
Shields switches to a single-leg, and wrestles Cooper down to the ground. From there, briefly passes to side mount, but Cooper quickly regains his guard. Shields lands some weak punches to the body, while Cooper works a sort of proto-Butterfly guard to give himself some breathing room. Shields peppers Cooper with some ineffective shots, but then decides to set himself in a move advantageous position. He attempts to stack Cooper’s legs and land some more significant punches, but Cooper takes the opportunity to reposition and kick off. From here, Cooper is able to scramble to his feet, Jake fights to bring him back down to the ground with a single-leg, but it proves ineffective.
Cooper jumps back into Shields’ half-guard. Cooper’s top-game appears heavy initially, Shields unable to regain any poistion on the ground, but as Cooper goes to move to side-mount, Shields scrambles and uses the slightest whizzer to reverse and eventually end up in top position.
From top positions, Shields rains down some punches, the most meaningful ones of the fight, Cooper attempts to scramble out back to his feet, but in the process gives up his back. From here, Shields is able to grab a rear-naked choke and elicit the submission at 3;29 of the first round.
Shields doesn’t give up the hold immediately, and the referee has to admonish him several times until he resorts to just slapping him on the back a bunch of times. Cooper’s corner rushes over, but nothing much happens, and any ill feelings seem to have been quelled.
But, somewhere, either in the venue or at a home, an 11 year old Ray Cooper plots revenge, and on Thursday, almost 14 years to the day, he’ll get his chance at redemption.