The PFL will conclude the 2023 season in Washington, D.C. at PFL 10 while earlier in the week the PFL's purchase of Bellator MMA was made official. The PFL Finals will consist of six title fights and a busy undercard that will air on ESPN+ PPV for the second straight year. Kicking off the main card will be veterans Ray Cooper III and Derek Brunson. Brunson will be making his PFL debut after a lengthy career in the UFC.
Brunson is a 32-fight veteran while fighting for Strikeforce and UFC for the last 12 years. Brunson was a three-time NCAA Division II All-American wrestler prior to MMA and started out his career 9-2 before joining the UFC. Brunson went 14-7 with the organization going on two separate five-fight winning streaks including wins over Chris Leben, Lorenz Larkin, former champion Lyoto Machida, Kevin Holland, and former title challenger Darren Till. Brunson will be fighting in the middleweight division, at least for this fight, last seeing action at UFC 285 in March.
Derek Brunson will make his PFL debut against former champion Ray Cooper III
Brunson's opponent Cooper started out his career at lightweight before moving up to welterweight. Cooper joined the PFL after appearing in local promotions throughout the early stages of his career. Cooper is 12-3-1 with the PFL, appearing in the inaugural season's final and winning the welterweight championship the next two seasons before missing the playoffs last season. Cooper took the 2023 season off but will have his hands full as he's welcomed back, making his debut at middleweight.
This will be a fun matchup to kick off the main card as both fighters are savvy vets who have been around the block. Brunson will have the height and a big 7" reach advantage over the smaller Cooper, but Cooper has dynamite in his hands, so Brunson will have to be careful. Brunson is a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, so it will be interesting to see what will happen when or if these wrestlers hit the ground. The debutant vs. the former champ is a great way to start off a card.