Preview and prediction for PFL 1: Anthony Pettis vs. Clay Collard.
After having its 2020 season effectively scrapped due to the global coronavirus pandemic, the Professional Fighters League (PFL) is back. All the action begins with the first PFL event of the 2021 season on April 23, featuring two of the promotion’s biggest acquisitions — former UFC lightweight champ Anthony Pettis and fellow UFC vet Clay Collard — in the main event.
Pettis won the UFC’s 155-pound title by submitting Benson Henderson, the same man he defeated to become the final WEC champion, at UFC 164. Pettis retained the title against Gilbert Melendez at UFC 181 but dropped the title to Rafael dos Anjos at UFC 185.
Pettis’ UFC tenure ended by winning six of his last 11 fights. Among the notable bouts in that span include an upset victory over Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson (in which he became the first to KO Thompson), a decision loss to Nate Diaz in Diaz’s first fight in three years and ending his run with back-to-back wins over Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone and Alex Morono.
Collard’s UFC tenure began in 2014 with a loss to Max Holloway. He’d defeat Alex White at UFC 181 but parted ways with the promotion after decision losses to Gabriel Benitez and Tiago Trator. After over two years away from MMA, Collard competed in SteelFist Fight Night and Final Fight Championship in 2018 and 2019, winning four of five, with the only losses in that span coming to current UFC fighter Darrick Minner.
Collard, however, began to focus more on boxing in 2019. Currently holding a 9-4-3 record in that sport, Collard received attention for fighting often in 2020, scoring decisions over Quashawn Toler and David Kaminsky, as well as finishes of Raymond Guajardo, Lorawnt T. Nelson and Maurice Williams. Collard’s last fight of 2020 and only boxing match of 2021 ended in decision losses to, respectively, Quincy LaVallais and Maidel Sando.
Who will win at PFL 1: Anthony Pettis or Clay Collard?
Collard will have an inch in height over Pettis, as well as half-an-inch in reach. Of course, Pettis will have the experience edge by far.
It will be interesting to see how Collard has done in making the transition back to the cage — more so, the big MMA spotlight. Collard may have certainly worked on his ground game, but he is, and always has been, a much better striker. He’ll need to pick his moments against Pettis, but once he does, it’s those moments where he needs to unleash his hands.
Similarly, Pettis has slick submission skills and can hold his own on the ground, but he’s definitely better known for his strikes, especially his kicks. For Pettis, he needs to keep his distance to be able to land those big kicks and significant strikes, he needs to use outpace and out-control Collard in the fight and he needs to be quicker than Collard to avoid the boxer’s attacks.
As long as Pettis uses his experience to his advantage, this should be a solid 3+ points for him to kick off the 2021 PFL season.
Prediction: Pettis via unanimous decision
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.