‘I Grew Up Around Fighting’ – How Blake Cooper Is Carrying On His Family’s Tradition In ONE Championship

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Martial arts are in Blake Cooper’s blood.

Hailing from a family of MMA fighters, the Hawaiian slugger will soon return for his sophomore appearance in ONE to face submission grappling superstar Kade Ruotolo in an intriguing lightweight MMA contest at ONE 167: Tawanchai vs. Nattawut II on Prime Video.

That battle will go down in U.S. primetime on June 7 at the Impact Arena in Bangkok, Thailand, and it will mark Cooper’s opportunity to take out one of the organization’s biggest names and most promising young MMA talents.

Before the 27-year-old looks to spoil Ruotolo’s highly anticipated MMA debut, we look back at his journey to the world’s largest martial arts organization.

Beach Vibes

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The son of Hawaiian MMA icon Ray “Bradda” Cooper and the younger brother of decorated MMA World Champion Ray Cooper III, Blake always seemed destined for a life in combat sports.

Perhaps surprisingly, though, he doesn’t recall a childhood filled with fistfights and trouble. Instead, he told onefc.com that he enjoyed a relaxed upbringing on the coast.

“I guess I was a little bit more laid back. When we were kids, we used to just go outside, go to the beach. We lived close to the beach when I was a little kid, so we’d be going to the beach a lot.”

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From Wrestling To MMA

Despite his relaxed nature, the young Cooper always knew his future was in fighting.

Like countless other elite mixed martial artists, he found his start in wrestling. After a successful high school career, he went on to compete for Warner Pacific University, winning an NAIA National Championship:

“Eventually, I knew I was gonna want to fight. I grew up around fighting. I watched my dad fight. All of my uncles fought, so I kind of grew up around the crowd of MMA. But I was really focused on wrestling, growing up into high school and through college. And then watching my brother compete more often.”

Following college, Cooper quickly made his way into the all-around sport of mixed martial arts.

In 2019, he racked up three wins on Hawaii’s amateur circuit. His father – a respected veteran of over 20 professional bouts – advised him to continue building experience as an amateur fighter, but Cooper was in a hurry to make a living and soon transitioned to the professional ranks.

He explained:

“My dad actually wanted me to take more amateur fights. But I kind of, you know, just trying to make money off of doing this already. Trying to make this a living, so that’s why I went pro, you know, to get paid. I don’t want to fight for nothing. I want to be able to fight for a reason. So I kind of just told him I wanted to go pro. I gotta pay the bills.”

Inspired By Family

As a professional, Cooper reeled off a pair of impressive stoppage victories to earn his spot on ONE’s global roster and establish himself as the next elite fighter from the Cooper clan.

Through it all, he looked to both his father and older brother for inspiration and motivation to reach new heights:

“When it came to training and work ethic, they were really some of the people I looked up to just because of how they were and their accomplishments. I’d say my dad and my older brother are the people I look up to be successful.”

Cooper is now carrying on the family tradition of fighting in more ways than one.

Like his father, he has the takedown and grappling chops to control world-class athletes on the mat but generally prefers to throw big punches on the feet, always in search of the highlight-reel knockout.

Cooper spoke about his father’s approach to combat:

“I really liked his style of stand-up, his boxing. And I mean, he’s self-taught, too. He learned from YouTube and other videos that they bought and DVDs. So he’s pretty much a self-taught fighter. His style is more sort of a boxing, wrestling style. He can wrestle when he wants, but his stand-up is where I feel like he’s the most dangerous.”

Thankful To Be A Cooper

Now training out of his family’s gym, Lion of Judah, Cooper is happy to continue the combat sports tradition laid out by his father:

“I’m just grateful that I have the family that can provide me with help. We all still live together, so it just shows it’s the system that we have, a system that works.”

After suffering a tough defeat – the first of his career – in his ONE debut last September, Cooper found himself leaning on the unending support of his extended family.

That foundation, plus the years upon years of experience in the MMA game, will be key to his success at ONE 167 against Ruotolo.

He added:

“It’s just tons and tons of support on both sides of the family, and I’m just grateful that I have the parents and the family to be able to compete to do this, to do this for a living.

“So I’m just grateful and I’m blessed that I have the family that allows me to do what I do.”

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