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The Chase for ‘Something Extraordinary’


Simple motivations fuel the fire inside Clay Collard.

“It’s hard work, it’s dedication and it’s family to me, and I love the fans,” Collard told Sherdog.com. “I’m always going to get out there, and I’m going to put everything on the line. I’m going to work as hard as I possibly can. I’m going to try to put on my show every time I step in the cage. I’m not only trying to get wins, but I’m trying to win fans and put on shows and do something extraordinary.”

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The approach has served Collard well to this point. The 2023 Professional Fighters League lightweight finalist will seek his fifth victory in seven appearances when he collides with Mads Burnell in the PFL 5 main event this Friday at the Jon M. Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City. Collard banked five points in the 2024 regular-season standings on April 12, when he cut down former Bellator MMA champion Patricky Freire with punches in the second round of their PFL 2 pairing. Everything went as he expected, with one exception.

“I was going to overwhelm him [with] just that overwhelming pressure and just staying on him, a lot of feinting and just smart pressure and taking him out into the deep waters,” Collard said. “I wish I wouldn’t have gotten caught and dropped in the first round. That wasn’t according to plan, but getting up and fighting through that and just sticking to the game plan—it eventually worked.”

Burnell poses a significant threat. The former Cage Warriors Fighting Championship titleholder finds himself painted into a corner after he tapped to a second-round guillotine choke from Michael Dufort in April. The setback snapped a two-fight winning streak for Burnell, an Arte Suave and Xtreme Couture product who has secured nine of his 18 career victories by submission.

“I think Mads is very well-rounded, so anywhere the fight goes, he’s going to be ready,” Collard said. “I think I have to be the exact same way. I have to be ready no matter where the fight goes because he is a well-rounded type of guy. I think he has some decent wrestling. I think my striking is better—I always think it’s better—so I think maybe we might see him play on the field with me for a little bit. Then I see him trying to take me down and maybe even grind out, stay on top, things like that. I’m definitely prepared for scrambles and getting away and looking for shots in transitions.”

The clash with Burnell serves as a home game of sorts for Collard, a Payson, Utah, native who has not fought in the Beehive State in more than five years.

“I’m going to have a bunch of friends and family and supporters there,” he said. “It’s something I’m excited about. Some people get nervous fighting in front of their home crowd, and I don’t think that’s me. I think it’s something I’m going to feed off of and just enjoy the moment.”
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