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Two promotional champions, one former UFC champion stunned in the first PFL event of 2021

Photo: Supplied by PFL

In the first regular-season event for the Professional Fighters League 2021 season, the underdogs stunned the highly-respected superstars in a way that no one saw coming.

In the main event between boxer/MMA contender Clay Collard and former UFC champion Anthony Pettis, Collard gave the performance of a lifetime. Right from the start, Collard’s boxing stood out.

During the pandemic, Collard took part in five boxing bouts before returning to MMA with PFL. Now, he's back to making statements and pushing deep into the playoffs.

“Being in there with Anthony Pettis was a dream come true,” Collard said. “To get a win over a guy like that says a lot in this division. It made a statement, and that is what I came here to do… This was my coming out party, and I’m ready to fight.”

In the co-main event, a pair of highly-skilled grapplers boxed it out for three straight rounds. The 2018 and 2019 PFL Lightweight champion Natan Schulte was shocked by Marcin Held, who was making his promotional debut. Although the fight came down to the wire, Held earned a unanimous decision as the +345 underdog.

“It wasn’t so easy so I had to fight standing [up],” Held said. “Everywhere, I feel good. I can compete in an MMA fight.”

After a two-year hiatus from fighting, Featherweight Bubba Jenkins tallied his first career PFL win as a +325 underdog. Jenkins was in total control in his debut and notched a unanimous decision with ease, even when up against the 2-time PFL champion Lance Palmer.

This win snapped Palmer’s 11-fight win streak that dated back to 2017.

“I think he is a star,” Senior Vice President of Corporate Communications Loren Mack said. “I believe that he is one of the guys that most people are betting on to win the championship and that $1 million prize.”

In the PFL, wins matter, but there are performance bonuses that determine rankings on a point system. A win that goes the distance is three points. If there is a first-round finish three extra points are awarded. Then, two for a second-round finish and one for a third-round finish.

The only fighter to secure more than three points was Featherweight Brendan Loughnane. With six total points to start the season, he is in prime position to secure a playoff spot down the line. He knocked out former UFC fighter Sheymon Moraes in the first round.

“I am the only one to finish anybody,” Loughnane said. “What does that tell you? I just dismantled him and put him away in the first round. I am not a joker. I’m here to win this whole tournament.”

PFL will be back with PFL 2 with the Welterweights and Light Heavyweights on full display next Thursday, April 29 at 9 p.m. EST.

PFL 1 Featherweight leaderboard

Brendan Loughnane- 6 points

Tyler Diamond- 3 points

Chris Wade- 3 points

Bubba Jenkins- 3 points

Movlid Khaybulaev- 3 points

Jo Sung Bin- 0 points

Anthony Dizy- 0 points

Sheymon Moraes- 0 points

Lance Palmer- 0 points

Lazar Stojadinovic- 0 points

PFL 1 Lightweight leaderboard

Raush Manfio- 3 points

Alexander Martinez- 3 points

Akhmed Aliev- 3 points

Marcin Held- 3 points

Clay Collard- 3 points

Loik Radzhabov- 0 points

Joilton Lutterbach- 0 points

Anthony Pettis- 0 points

Natan Schulte- 0 points

Mikhail Odintsov- -1 points

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