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Coaches turned to father figures and a passion turned into letters for Cooper. There was very little he wasn’t able to absorb at his time in Iowa City, but the lessons didn’t stop when he graduated.

“The best thing I would say that I achieved at Iowa besides wrestling in the Big Ten, wrestling in Madison Square Garden, qualifying for Nationals, trying to win a team title for my team, wrestling some of the best wrestlers in the world, being in there with [Brent] Metcalf, being able to talk to guys who were mentors and father figures in my life like the Brands and Dan Gable, it was an unbelievable experience,” Cooper listed off. “Here’s the thing, anyone can go there and be there. For me, it’s going there and having a legacy and setting up a legacy for my family in the long run.”

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The wrestling to MMA transition has always been one of the smoothest in terms of crossover sports. Cooper feels that it comes from the work ethic you’re forced to adapt when wrestling at a high level. A lazy wrestler in practice or competition is a wrestler who never makes it to Iowa to begin with.

“Wrestling and MMA are still just two different ballgames, you know? But, at the end of the day, it’s a lot of hard work,” Cooper explained. “It all comes with having a lot of courage and believing in yourself and doing everything on a consistent basis.”


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