PFL missed all of 2020 due to a global pandemic, and the organization attempted to put its best foot forward to kick off 2021 with a bang.
And it had all the makings of it. Anthony Pettis, fresh off leaving the UFC after his runs there and in the WEC, is a shot in the arm for the promotion. Clay Collard would stand opposite him after spoiling a handful of boxing hype trains in some shocking upsets with his huge power. Movlid Khaybulaev pulled off one of the most shocking knockouts ever seen in 2019, and a spiteful Brendan Loughnane was back in action to make a mark after not being signed by the UFC.
The main event was an immediate surprise when it began, as Clay Collard kept to the “How To Defeat Anthony Pettis“ playbook. Pressuring up close, guiding towards the fence, and attacking the body. Collard managed to drop Pettis, who had more than enough defensive lapses. Collard landed with massive power, rocking Pettis on various occasions.
Pettis lacked offense with significant impact until a major headkick in the third round dropped Collard. Pettis attempted to follow that up with a flying knee:
But it soon went to the ground where Collard managed to ride it out and recover to take the unanimous decision victory. This upset leads Collard to score three points in the standings at lightweight.
Perhaps viewers may have been disappointed in the lack of finishes, but Loughnane definitely delivered. He made sure you knew he was a finisher, too. Dispatching of former WSOF and UFC fighter Sheymon Moraes, he really wants everyone to ditch that knock on him:
Being the only featherweight to finish his fight, this instantly skyrockets Loughnane into the top spot in the rankings with six points for finishing in the first round. He’ll be sitting pretty there and cruise into the playoffs he keeps this going.
Two former tournament champs had their streaks ended and parties spoiled. Natan Schulte lost a gritty decision against former Bellator and UFC talent Marcin Held. Held showed off his hands nailing some uppercuts and keeping everything close and mostly standing to earn a decision win. Lots of fun exchanges happened there, with both jockeying for center space in the cage and almost no ground action.
Another underdog that ended up beating the odds was Bubba Jenkins, who had left Bellator to end up in ACB and BRAVE before landing in PFL. In a tightly contested and wrestle-heavy duel, he managed to snap Lance Palmer’s 11-fight win streak by decision. With this fourth consecutive win as a pro, he’ll net himself a massive ego boost and three points to end up tied with the other featherweight winners not named Brendan Loughnane.
Clay Collard def. Anthony Pettis via unanimous decision (29-27, 29-27, 29-28)
Marcin Held def. Natan Schulte via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Movlid Khaibulaev def. Lazar Stojadinovic via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Bubba Jenkins def. Lance Palmer via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Brendan Loughnane def. Sheymon Moraes via KO (punch), round 1 (2:55)
Raush Manfio def. Joilton Lutterbach via split decision (28-29, 29-28, 29-28)
Akhmed Aliev def. Mikhail Odintsov via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Chris Wade def. Anthony Dizy via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Tyler Diamond def. Jo Sung Bin via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Alexander Martinez def. Loik Radzhabov via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 30-27)