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Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Kai Kamaka III credit cousin Ray Cooper for big-time PFL affect

CHICAGO – Kai Kamaka III acquired tossed into the deep finish of the pool for his PFL debut Friday, however had a confidence increase thanks a household bond.

Kamaka (13-5-1) outworked Bubba Jenkins (21-8) for a unanimous resolution on the PFL’s third and last occasion of the primary half of the 2024 common season in Chicago. The win gave Kamaka 3 factors within the featherweight standings.

After the battle, Kamaka, a Bellator switch from Hawaii who now has gained 4 of his previous 5, mentioned recommendation from his cousin, Ray Cooper III, helped forward of his PFL debut. Cooper is a two-time $1 million PFL winner at welterweight.

“I used to be form of teary-eyed this morning,” Kamaka informed MMA Junkie and different reporters after his win over Jenkins. “My cousin Ray shocked me for my battle, after which locking eyes with him proper earlier than the battle began – I imply, simply full circle. 5 years in the past, I used to be following him round this league from the East Coast.

“I want we each may have been competing tonight, however I feel it was extra of a blessing that he wasn’t as a result of I feel I’d have been much more nervous. However to see him immediately, after which in the course of the battle, him giving me assurance, he lit extra of a hearth underneath me, particularly between that second and third spherical, seeing him standing up after which, you realize, locking eyes with him once more – he simply brings a special fireplace to me.”

Kamaka’s 3 factors within the featherweight standings have him in a three-way tie behind Brendan Loughnane and Gabriel Braga, who acquired first-round finishes for six factors.

A win for Kamaka towards whoever he’s matched up towards within the second spherical in late June shall be crucial to make the four-man postseason, and a end is likely to be much more vital, although the 29-year-old mentioned he’s simply involved about getting a ‘W’ and never gunning for a end.

“The season picks up from right here,” Kamaka mentioned. “It’s whoever can keep wholesome, whoever can have the sturdy thoughts and maintain going. However I don’t have unhealthy weight cuts. I don’t want an excessive amount of time to relaxation. I heal my physique up good and I’m a pupil of the sport. The event picks up now.

“I’m simply attempting to frickin’ win fights. I maintain profitable, you progress on. The win, then the end, that’s all for PFL – however I’ve acquired to make my cash and I’ve acquired to maintain profitable.”

Welterweights fought on the cardboard with Kamaka’s featherweight division Friday at Wintrust Enviornment, however Cooper wasn’t within the discipline. He gained the welterweight season in 2019, then once more in 2021. In 2022, he missed weight for his first bout of the season and regardless of a 24-second KO in his second battle, missed the playoffs.

Cooper moved as much as middleweight in 2023, however dropped a call to UFC vet Derek Brunson, and towards Bellator welterweight champion Jason Jackson earlier this yr, he misplaced a catchweight battle. However regardless of his present hurdles, Cooper stays a steadfast affect in Kamaka’s profession.

“He was there in my UFC debut,” Kamaka mentioned. “He in all probability pulled me by to that one, too. The turning factors in my profession, if it wasn’t for him doing so nicely within the PFL, I don’t even assume I’d be wherever in my profession.

“After he was doing nicely, he gained the championship, that’s when my profession began to come back round as a result of throughout his camps, I’m proper there with him on the whole lot. Seeing him win, I knew I used to be doing the whole lot proper, and that helped flip my profession round. That simply pushed me. That simply gave me assurance that I used to be doing the proper issues.”

For extra on the cardboard, go to MMA Junkie’s occasion hub for PFL 2024, Week 3.

Remember to go to the MMA Junkie Instagram web page and YouTube channel to debate this and extra content material with followers of combined martial arts.

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