Brett Cooper knows what it’s like to have his back against the wall and need a miracle.
He was in a world of trouble a month ago against Dan Cramer. But he rallied. He got his miracle. And that miracle got him to Bellator’s Season 8 middleweight tournament finals on Thursday against Doug Marshall.
Cooper (19-7 MMA, 6-2 BFC) and Marshall (17-6 MMA, 3-0 BFC) meet on the main card of Bellator 95, which takes place at Revel Atlantic City in New Jersey. The main card airs on Spike TV (10 p.m.) following prelims on Spike.com.
Cramer pretty much owned the fight with Cooper at Bellator 92 in March. Cooper appeared to be outmatched, and he knew it.
“Nothing surprised me about Dan Cramer when we fought – other than him dropping me, and me being unable to take him down,” Cooper told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com). “Those were the big two surprises. I expected him to be good. He’s very well skilled. I think he came very well prepared for what I was going to do, and it worked for the first two rounds.”
Cramer dropped Cooper early in the fight, and Cooper had to recover from that just to survive the first 10 minutes of the fight to get to a place in the third where he could pull his Hail Mary.
“I think it’d be hard to describe the actual stages of getting your wits back about you,” Cooper said. “But first you get dropped on your butt. You say, ‘Oh, crap,’ then you’re sitting there figuring out how to recover, how to get back up or how not to get finished. It took me a round or two, though. I jumped right up after the first round but you could see that I was still a little tired and out of it. What they call it in military terms is ‘fog of war,’ so it was a little like that. You’re just kind of in that mode. It’s difficult to explain.”
With that “fog of war” happening, Cooper had to go for broke, or go home without a crack at a tournament crown and the potential for a title shot.
With his corner telling him to go after it, he did just that.
“When you know you’re down two rounds with five minutes left to fight, there’s nothing to lose at that point and you might as well go for broke,” he said. “You just get rid of everything you have. The difference is the urgency. When you’re behind, there’s no feeling-out stage – that stage is over. And the gameplan you had didn’t work, so it’s time to dig deep and go for it.”
After his TKO win over Cramer, Cooper will be hoping to avoid such comeback necessity against Marshall. And he’ll come into the fight as a 2-to-1 favorite against Marshall, a former WEC light heavyweight champion who tore through his first two tournament foes before taking a split decision against Sultan Aliev to reach the finals.
Cooper said he knows Marshall is dangerous – and that he’s a big talker. And that part of Marshall’s game, Cooper isn’t that impressed with.
“Doug Marshall doesn’t really seem like much of a deep thinker to me,” Cooper said. “I think he talks to get the fans’ attention. To me, the whole ‘I’m gonna knock someone’s head off’ is really cliche. It’s just overdone and not very original. It’s not the most intelligent thing you could say. I’m not saying you have to be a rocket scientist or anything, but it kinda plays into his personality. That’s why he wouldn’t be a good general but he’d be a great soldier.
“But he’s a dangerous guy because he is the kind of guy who’s going to come in and try to knock your head off. You have to respect that.”
Marshall has implied that Cooper might not be that interested in standing and trading with him. And while Cooper knows Marshall’s danger with his hands, he’s not ready to become a lay-and-pray artist in order to get the win.
As bad as he wants the tournament title and the $100,000 in total prize money that goes with it – he said he’d take his family on vacation if he wins – he’s not necessarily willing to sacrifice giving the fans a good fight in the process.
“If Doug Marshall thinks I’m just going to lay on him, my reaction would be to laugh,” Cooper said. “I’m not scared to stand with him at all. Just because he knocks people out? That’s part of the game. I take into account his skills and I respect his skills, but I’m not scared to strike with him. I’m not scared to stand with anyone in the world. I have 13 knockouts on my record, so for him to think I’m going to be scared to stand up with him and just try to take him down is kind of stupid on his part.
“Which wouldn’t surprise me because he’s not the brightest light on the tree. But he comes to fight and that’s his biggest thing: He comes to fight.”
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