PFL 1: Anthony Pettis vs. Clay Collard is quickly approaching, so here are just three of the reasons why you should tune in.
The Professional Fighters League finally makes its return this Friday, live from the Ocean Casino Resort in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Headlining the event will be a bout between former WEC and UFC lightweight champion Anthony Pettis and former UFC vet Clay Collard. The card will feature first round bouts for both the men’s featherweight and lightweight divisions.
The PFL returns after a lengthy hiatus due to the Covid-19 pandemic, bringing with them a bevy of new faces from promotions all over the world. Champions from organizations such as the UFC, Bellator and M-1 Global, as well as previous PFL tournament winners, will all make appearances at some point in the next few weeks. The PFL offers a unique tournament style unlike any other major mixed martial arts promotion. Fighters will be rewarded with points based not only on wins, but how quickly they are able to finish their opponent. Now without further ado, let’s dive into three reasons why you should tune into PFL 1 this Friday.
These are three reasons to watch PFL 1Can Anthony Pettis win another world title?
We’ve seen Pettis capture both the WEC and UFC lightweight belts, but can he secure a third this season in the PFL?
Pettis meets Collard in a three-round main event, a fight in which Pettis should ideally cruise to a victory. Although Pettis sports a .500 record since losing the lightweight title, he went 2-0 in his final UFC fights, including wins over Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone and Alex Morono. Pettis will be dropping back down in weight for this one, as his last two bouts were fought at welterweight following a loss in his 155-pound return against Carlos Diego Ferreira. “Showtime” should have no problem in this opening fight, but the PFL lightweight roster is no joke this time around. Two-time champ Natan Schulte returns alongside finalist Loik Radzhabov, while newcomers Marcin Held and Olivier Aubin-Mercier will look to spoil the party come playoff time. There’s no disrespect in saying Pettis is past his prime, but there is still a chance he has what it takes to make it all the way to the tournament final.
If you’ve never seen the Professional Fighters League before, don’t worry, there are plenty of familiar faces in the promotion this season to pique your interest. Heavyweight Fabricio Werdum joins Pettis as one of two former UFC champions to be signed to the PFL this season, while former Bellator titleholder Rory MacDonald also adds his name to the list of welterweight competitors this season. Speaking of former world champions, M-1 Global welterweight champ Alexey Kunchenko rounds out a stacked 170-pound division, one that will be defended this season by Ray Cooper III. Other notable newcomers this year include Chris Camozzi, Tom Lawlor, Mohammed Usman, Justin Willis, Antonio Carlos Jr., and Olivier Aubin-Mercier.
Also of note, former lightweight contender Chris Wade will drop down to featherweight this year in hopes of securing a spot in this season’s championship event. Lastly, all six championship winners have returned this season to defend their titles.
Brendan Loughnane post-UFC snub
One of the PFL’s potential breakout stars this year, as well as dark horse to win it all, could very well be England’s Brendan Loughnane. Loughnane (19-3) signed with the Professional Fighters League in 2019 following an appearance on Dana White’s Contender Series. Although he was successful in his bout, UFC President Dana White was unhappy with the fact that Loughnane shot for a takedown with 10 seconds left in the fight, as opposed to trying to finish the fight right then and there. Despite the win, White did not offer Loughnane a contract and the PFL scooped him up rather quickly thereafter.
Although not included in the tournament in 2019, Loughnane was still able to compete twice in the promotion, winning back-to-back unanimous decisions over Matt Wagy and David Alex Duarte.
All three of Loughnane’s professional losses have come against UFC veterans, and two of those came via split decision. Now 31 years old and likely in his prime, the 22-fight vet will look to prove himself every time he steps on to that PFL canvas. Loughnane will compete in the featherweight division, with his first bout coming against UFC vet Sheymon Moraes in the ESPN+ headliner spot. Loughnane is currently a -175 betting favorite, with Moraes coming back at +145.
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.