PFL 1 results: Clay Collard pulls off another huge upset with brutal shutout of Jeremy Stephens


For the second time, Clay Collard has spoiled the PFL debut of a decorated UFC vet, shutting out Jeremy Stephens in the headliner of the tournament-based promotion’s Season 4 opener on Wednesday.

Collard walked through Stephens’ best shots and kept the pressure on to win 30-27 marks from all judges in the fight card’s main event at ESports Stadium in Arlington, Texas. ESPN+ and ESPN+ aired the main event.

Stephens quickly introduced Collard to the power that felled so many opponents in the octagon. He was caught unaware when Collard, a UFC veteran, was there to bombard him with shots to his head and body. Stephens was wildly out of his position after a particularly wild right. Collard quickly assembled a trio. Collard skillfully framed Stephens using his elbow, and then delivered knees directly to the head. By the end of the opening frame, Stephen was beginning to swell under his left eye.

The recent acquisition of PFL continued to throw big punches and Collard was badly injured in the second round and the third. As the fight went into deep waters, however, it wasn’t enough to change the trajectory of the fight, and he began to look for takedowns. Collard was also surprised when he stumbled under Collard after taking an overhand uppercut, and threw him to the ground. Collard would do that twice more in open range, walking off for added effect.

Both men had exhausted themselves by round three, when Stephens attempted an illegal spin elbow. It hit Collard’s throat and went unpunished as the boxing and MMA vet added another huge name to his resume after his Season 3 upset of former UFC lightweight champ Anthony Pettis. Collard also picked up three points for his Season 4 total after falling short in the finals of the previous tourney.

Manfio pulls off save after slow start

Season 3 lightweight winner Raush Manfio was on his way to becoming the second champ to be upset in PFL’s Season 4 opener. He was behind on all scorecards against Don Madge, who’d dictated the range and the pace of the action over nearly three rounds. Then Manfio let loose an overhand right and erased everything that had happened up to that point.

Madge hit the canvas and was quickly pounded out by follow-up punches at the 2:42 mark of the final frame. Up until that point, Manfio’s right hand had been short all but one or two times as evidenced by a quick shake of the head from Madge. The right opportunity and angle seemed to elude Madge, and the Season 3 champ didn’t do himself any favors by waiting and not pressing the action. In the end, though, he picked up four points and avoided an unpleasant start to the season. Madge’s seven-fight winning streak – including two in the UFC before his unexpected release – came to a crashing halt, while Manfio extended his current streak to five fights.

Aubin-Mercier upsets Schulte

Natan Schulte, the two-time champion of lightweights has been defeated in an opening PFL match. In 2021, it was Marcin Held winning on points. This year, it was Olivier Aubin-Mercier squeaking it out via split-call.

“The Canadian Gangster” employed a pitch-perfect gameplan and largely stuck to it despite an empty gas tank at the end of three rounds with the ex-champ, who mercilessly pressured him with kicks and punches in close. Aubin-Mercier’s southpaw stance proved a tough challenge for Schulte to overcome as jabs and lead lefts momentarily stopped his advance. Aubin-Mercier then moved laterally and stuck his opponent with arrow-straight one-twos that repeatedly found their target. Schulte was not impressed, however, they were able to score more points than the Brazilian, who had been in serious trouble during the opening round.

Schulte fought through the onslaught to smother his opponent in the cage at the end of each round, and he convinced one judge that he had done enough with a 29-28 score. But the other two saw it for Aubin-Mercier by the same tally, giving the Canadian three points and his third straight PFL win.

‘Shoeface’ runs over Monte

Season 3 light heavyweight champ Antonio Carlos Junior is off to a very good start in his quest to win his second PFL tourney. In less than 30 seconds, he had opponent Delan Monte tapping to a D’Arce choke after taking a stiff right cross to the face.

“Shoeface took a strong right hand from his opponent, and seemed to be twitching his knee during an exchange. But his punch landed harder, and he cinched the choke before the two even hit the ground. Monte was already at the end of his rope when he realized the situation. The official end came just 29 seconds into the first round and put six points on the board for Junior, who ran the table and won $1 million in this past year’s tournament.

Full PFL 1: Collard vs. Stephens results:

Clay Collard def. Jeremy Stephens via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)

Raush Manfio def. Don Madge via KO (strikes) – Round 3, 2:42

Antonio Carlos Junior def. Delan Monte via submission (D’Arce choke) – Round 1, 0:29

Olivier Aubin-Mercier def. Natan Schulte via split decision (29-28, 28-29-28, 29-28)

Cory Hendricks def. Emiliano Sordi via TKO (strikes) – Round 2, 2:13

Alexander Martinez def. Stevie Ray via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 30-27)

Marthin Hamlet def. Teodoras Aukstuolis via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)

Omari Akhmedov def. Viktor Pesta via KO (punch) – Round 1, 1:25

Rob Wilkinson def. Bruce Souto via TKO (strikes) – Round 2, 0:46

Simeon Powell def. Clinton Williams via KO (knee) – Round 3, 4:38