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