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Rivalries: Clay Collard


Professional Fighters League lightweight contender Clay Collard embodies the rare breed of fighter who has done a decent job of traversing between mixed martial arts and boxing. With a presence in the fight game dating back to 2011, Collard embarked on his grappling journey at the age of 6 and swiftly integrated boxing into his repertoire at 11. His high school tenure was distinguished by wrestling accolades, laying the foundation for a solid career in the fight game. For his next assignment, “Cassius” will take on Patricky Freire at PFL 2 this Friday inside The Theater at Virgin Hotels in Las Vegas.

Ahead of the clash, a look at some of the notable rivalries of Collard’s career to this point:

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Justin Buchholz


Having amassed a decent 9-3 run, Collard first crossed paths with Buchholz at Showdown Fights 8 on Aug. 25, 2012. He lost the fight via guillotine choke submission in the third round. That victory set off a three-fight winning streak for Buchholz under the Showdown Fights banner. He also defeated David Castillo to lay his hands on the organization’s lightweight strap. Collard would have his chance at redemption at Showdown Fights 12. He won the hard-fought clash against Buchholz via split decision, snapping his opponent’s streak and seizing lightweight gold in the process.

Anthony Pettis


Collard pulled off a stunning upset against the former Ultimate Fighting Championship lightweight king when he took a unanimous decision from Pettis in the headlining bout of the PFL’s season-opening showcase in 2021. Despite Pettis’ reputation for an explosive style, Collard’s relentless attack proved insurmountable. Collard dictated the pace of the contest, sending Pettis to the canvas twice in Round 2 and resiliently enduring a head kick knockdown in the third. The judges scored the bout 29-27, 29-27 and 29-28 in his favor, adding to his track record of impressive triumphs.

Steven Ray


Collard faced his fair share of setbacks in the PFL season. Impressive wins over Pettis and Joilton Lutterbach in 2021 were overshadowed by a semifinal loss to Raush Manfio. In 2022, Collard pulled off an electrifying triumph over famed hard-hitter Jeremy Stephens but stumbled against Alexander Martinez in the following bout. Against Ray in 2023, Collard weathered early grappling assaults from the Scottish submission specialist, harnessing his boxing finesse to secure his spot in the PFL playoffs. In the second round, having hurt and dropped Ray, Collard landed a punishing shot to the midsection of his adversary as soon as he invited him back to his feet and followed up with a barrage of punches. He continued the assault on the ground and pounded out the finish at the 1:04 mark in Round 2.

Shane Burgos


While Collard will take on Freire riding a slump of two consecutive defeats, prior to that, the Utah native triumphed over Burgos in their 2023 semifinal clash at PFL 9. Regarded as a potential “Fight of the Year,” the matchup showcased blistering striking exchanges. Collard’s relentless pressure and sharp combinations earned him the unanimous 29-28 scores from the judges. Despite Burgos’ initial success with kicks, Collard asserted dominance with pinpoint strikes, even managing to endure a knockdown. In the final frame, both fighters maintained the frenetic pace, showing no signs of slowing down, as Collard booked his first-ever berth in a PFL final in an instant classic.
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