PFL 3: Carlos Leal Pulls Off Upset Despite Late Surge by Ray Cooper III

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Ray Cooper III and Carlos Leal, PFL 3Ray Cooper III and Carlos Leal, PFL 3 astatine the Esports Stadium Arlington successful Arlington, Texas, Friday, May 6, 2022. (Cooper Neill / PFL)

Storylines a plentifulness surrounded the welterweight showdown betwixt two-time defending PFL champ Ray Cooper III and Carlos Leal astatine PFL 3 connected Friday night.

Hawaii’s Cooper III had travel successful dense for the fight, instantly putting himself astatine a disadvantage successful presumption of becoming a three-time champion. The miss astatine the scales meant helium could not triumph points careless of a triumph connected Friday, and would commencement the play astatine -1.

Leal, meanwhile, was a short-notice hostile with a large accidental successful beforehand of him. Undefeated for years, he’d won his mode into the league arsenic portion of the PFL Challenger Series.

Cooper III struck his mode successful to unfastened the co-main lawsuit successful Arlington, Texas connected Friday. He’d hunt for a takedown, lone for Leal to reverse and property Cooper into the fence. Cooper past turned, but they’d upwind up going backmost to center. A infinitesimal later, Cooper would spell hunting for the takedown again, with Leal defending with a whizzer. Leal turned, utilizing a assemblage fastener and landing some knees and ft stomps. Leal’s knees to the midsection were solid; helium ripped the assemblage with a punch a infinitesimal later, but didn’t person overmuch country to work.

In the 2nd stanza, Leal took a plaything and missed, portion Cooper pressed forward, past changeable successful for a takedown. That was stuffed; Leal fired a limb kick. Moments later, the Brazilian would occurrence a leap knee; it missed, Cooper looked for a takedown, but Leal fought that off. He’d past rip the assemblage with a kick, and drawback Cooper with a punch. Cooper changeable for a takedown, successful endurance mode, and Leal sprawled, dropping hammer fists successful the process.

Cooper would survive, but helium was not looking similar the Ray Cooper III of seasons past. Leal, meanwhile, fired a caput kick, past a debased footwear that took the feet close retired from nether Cooper, though helium managed to drawback his fall.

Heading into the third, Cooper was looking astatine perchance being upset by a Challenger Series fighter. Another Cooper takedown was stuffed, and Leal fired a genu connected the mode backmost up. Leal would past rip the body, and Cooper was hurt! He covered up, past went aft a leg; eating much damage, Cooper was adjacent to having the combat stopped, but helium stayed connected a single-leg effort and earned himself immoderate time. Leal, however, got up and began firing knees to the body. Cooper proved tough, but was getting lit up. Leal went to the body, head, and Cooper didn’t person immoderate effect for a bully 30 seconds until helium yet tagged the body.

Ray Cooper III looked to beryllium connected his mode retired by the midway constituent of the 3rd round. But he’d occurrence a hook, that landed, followed by an uppercut that didn’t. Leal was starting to slow. Cooper tried to fastener successful a lasting guillotine, but Leal defended. Cooper past landed a large close hand, and tagged Leal respective much times! Cooper blocked a caput kick, and was backmost successful the round, but clip was moving retired successful the fight! He tagged Leal again, but ran retired of time.

Official Result: Carlos Leal def. Ray Cooper III by unanimous determination (30-26, 30-27, 29-27)