It was a night of the underdogs, as Clay Collard pulled off a major unanimous decision victory over Anthony Pettis at PFL 1.
While Clay Collard has spent the last couple of years in the boxing ring, especially considering how active he was in 2020, he hadn’t had an MMA fight since 2019. But his MMA return came with a statement, as he pulled off a major victory in the main event of the Professional Fighters League (PFL)‘s first event of 2021 — PFL 1 — over fellow PFL debutant and former UFC champ Anthony Pettis.
While Pettis’ career has certainly been rocky since losing the UFC lightweight championship to Rafael dos Anjos at UFC 185, he scored back-to-back victories over Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone and Alex Morono in 2020 before departing the UFC for PFL in free agency.
Between 2014 and 2015, Collard went 1-3 in the UFC, including a loss to Max Holloway, before he and the UFC parted ways. Collard won four of his next five fights, with the only loss coming to current UFC fighter Darrick Minner, but hadn’t fought in MMA since April 19, 2019. Collard’s focus in 2019 and 2020 was on boxing, and he scored five victories in 2020 in spite of coming off back-to-back losses in boxing before this fight with Pettis.
See how Twitter reacted to Clay Collard putting a hurting on Anthony Pettis en route to an upset win
Throughout the fight, Collard was able to work on the front foot and pressure Pettis, working his boxing on the former UFC champion well.
Collard easily won the first round, and added to his dominant performance by rocking and dropping Pettis in the second, nearly finishing things on the ground.
Collard continued to be the aggressor in the third, though a high kick and a flying knee did rock him in a last-ditch comeback effort from Pettis. But it wasn’t enough, and Collard took a unanimous decision on the judges’ scorecards.
See how Twitter reacted to the surprising result:
Pettis was not the only favorite to eat defeat at PFL 1, as defending two-time PFL champs Lance Palmer and Natan Schulte both tasted defeat for the first time since 2017.
PFL 1 takes place on Friday, April 23, 2021, live from Atlantic City, NJ. Follow along with FanSided for all your live news and highlights.