- The PFL will return to action on April 23, 2021 with PFL 1.
- Anthony Pettis will make his promotional debut in the event when he faces Clay Collard in the headliner.
- Two-time lightweight champion Natan Schulte will fight Marcin Held in the co-main event.
After taking 2020 off due to the Pandemic, the Professional Fighters League (PFL) will return to action on April 23 and their first event will be headlined by one of its biggest free agent acquisitions to date.
Anthony Pettis to debut vs. Clay Collard in PFL’s return on April 23 https://t.co/tRGWADJPSu pic.twitter.com/wTEDA5JK7N
— theScore MMA (@theScoreMMA) February 23, 2021
Former UFC lightweight champion Anthony “Showtime” Pettis will make his highly-awaited PFL debut against former UFC fighter and professional boxer Clay Collard in the main event of PFL 1 which will be aired via ESPN2 at a location still to be determined.
Leaving The UFC for the PFL
Former UFC champion Anthony Pettis signs with PFL https://t.co/rMiVNhDu2b
— MMA Junkie (@MMAjunkie) December 24, 2020
Pettis ended a decade-long stint at the UFC when he signed with the PFL late last year after the expiration of his UFC contract. The 34-year old is looking to add another championship to his decorated career along with the $1M grand prize as he competes in the division where he enjoyed success throughout his career.
Showtime was the last WEC lightweight champion and held the UFC lightweight belt from 2013-1205 while also challenging for the UFC featherweight title at UFC 206. Pettis also had a brief run at welterweight but ultimately returned to his stomping ground where he won his final two UFC bouts against Donald Cerrone and Alex Morono.
He was one of the most sought after free agents in MMA and generated interest from other organizations like Bellator and even ONE Championship. Pettis was linked to Bellator where his brother Sergio Pettis fights at. In the end, Pettis liked the challenge that the PFL presented: a tournament format and a chance at winning the champions’s prize of $1M.
Boxing’s Cult Hero in 2020
2020 boxing cult hero Clay Collard will return to MMA in April, facing Anthony Pettis at #PFL1
More: https://t.co/7hm9XqlLmO pic.twitter.com/hsiazR7ON4
— Bad Left Hook (@badlefthook) February 23, 2021
Clay Collard fought in regional promotions, mostly for Showdown Fights before joining the UFC in 2014. After going 1-3 inside the Octagon, he was cut and returned to Utah to fight for SteelFist Fight Night where he won the promotion’s lightweight title. With COVID-19 halting sports, especially the smaller promotions, he turned his attention to boxing and became the sport’s cult hero in 2020.
Collard picked up five victories from January 3, 2020 to August 22, 2020, beating unbeaten prospects Raymond Guajardo and David Kaminsky. He ended 2020 with a 5-1 record with three knockouts. The 27-year old from Utah recently fought inside the boxing ring last February 20th, losing a unanimous decision to Cuban prospect Maidel Sando.
He hasn’t fought in an MMA bout since April 19, 2019 when he defeated Randall Wallace at Final Fight Championship 35. Collard has an MMA record of 18-8 with 10 knockouts and three wins via submission. Anthony Pettis will be the biggest bout of Collard’s fighting career and he is looking forward to take advantage of the opportunity.
Schulte vs Held
HERE. WE. GO.#PFL1 MATCHUPS ARE SET! ???? pic.twitter.com/1BTH5I7KrK
— PFL MMA (@ProFightLeague) February 23, 2021
In the co-main event of PFL 1, two-time PFL lightweight champion Natan Schulte will take on former Bellator lightweight title challenger Marcin Held. Schule is the 2018 and 2019 lightweight tournament winner and has lost just once in his last 21 bouts. Held also fought for the UFC after his stint with Bellator. He last fought for ACB where he defeated Diego Barandao in his most recent MMA bout.
Two-time featherweight champion Lance Palmer will also fight in the event. The 33-year old Palmer will take on former Brave FC champion and NCAA Division I winner Bubba Jenkins in the opening fight of the main card.
Palmer and Jenkins go way back in college when Palmer wrestled for Ohio State and Jenkins representing Penn State. Palmer is undefeated in the PFL but Jenkins will look to pull off the upset when he makes his promotional debut in April.