PFL (Professional Fighter’s League) is back with their lightweight and light heavyweight divisions getting some exposure this week. Atlanta plays host to the proceedings, as Clay Collard (21-9) is back in the main event against young whippersnapper Alex Martinez (9-2).
Collard had another great showing back in April when he earned a decision win against Jeremy Stephens, and his time away from MMA to go on his boxing foray proved to be a massive boon. His boxing has been instrumental to his success and he’s generous with his volume to the head and body. Martinez is more of an all-around prospect with some submission skills, but he’s been shown to be vulnerable against someone that can pressure him and fluster his offense. That kind of fits Collard to a T. Can Martinez adapt and overcome? Sure! But it’s an uphill battle for him on this one.
Antonio Carlos Jr (lovingly known as Shoeface, 14-5) had a very tough path to the light heavyweight championship last year, but came back without missing a beat in April when he submitted Delan Monte in less than a minute. His bingo card got Bruce Souto (15-4) on it this week, which could be a problem. Souto was part of the PFL Challengers series in February, making a statement with this finish. But he also suffered a loss at the hands of Rob Wilkinson (also on his card, more on him later), and hasn’t fought anyone with the experience or notoriety of Carlos (or Wilkinson, for that matter). Souto either turns some heads with a massive upset or solidifies his ceiling with a loss.
Last year’s lightweight champ Raush Manfio (16-3) was something of a Cinderella story for PFL, and he came back with a roaring KO over Don Madge for his 2022 debut. He meets Olivier Aubin-Mercier (14-5), who’s riding a three-fight win streak that includes a win over former champ Natan Schulte this past April. Olivier is tougher than ever, and he’s got a knack for controlling stretches of the fight.
Jeremy Stephens (28-20) didn’t get the PFL debut he wanted earlier this year, but he looks to right his ship with a win over Ireland’s Myles Price (11-8). Even if that means having an unconventional thing take place at the weigh-ins. Shout out to Amy Kaplan for the catch:
Commission slipped up here IMO, not good. pic.twitter.com/dhABGvTw8o— Amy Kaplan (@PhotoAmy33) June 16, 2022
Mishaps notwithstanding, Stephens has the veteran savvy and the KO power to do damage here. Price isn’t used to this level of competition, but a lot of these bouts turn into wild upsets in PFL.
Natan Schulte (21-5, 1 draw) was the undisputed king at lightweight for PFL, but he’s had some pretty unfortunate situations lately that include a loss to Marcin Held last year. Well, now he’s got a chance to avenge that loss as Held (27-8). Held is still as dangerous on the ground as ever, but way more confident and controlled on his feet.
Another former champ comes back to the fray as Emiliano Sordi (23-10) gets to push the aforementioned Delan Monte (8-2), in what should at least on paper be a walk for Sordi. Viktor Pešta (18-7) is also back, facing a renewed Rob Wilkinson (14-2), and another one of last year’s standouts Martin Hamlet (9-3) meets American Top Team submission ace and former LFA middleweight champ Josh Silveira (8-0).
You can check out the main weigh-ins from early Thursday here:
As well as the ceremonial weigh-ins here:
Clay Collard (155.2) vs. Alex Martinez (155.8) - Lightweight
Antonio Carlos Junior (205.8) vs. Bruce Souto (205.2) - Light heavyweight
Olivier Aubin-Mercier (155.8) vs. Raush Manfio (155.8) - Lightweight
Myles Price (155.2) vs. Jeremy Stephens (156) - Lightweight
Omari Akhmedov (203.2) vs. Teodoras Aukstuolis (204) - Light heavyweight
Marcin Held (155.6) vs. Natan Schulte (156) - Lightweight
Delan Monte (205.6) vs. Emiliano Sordi (204.8) - Light heavyweight
Viktor Pesta (205.8) vs. Rob Wilkinson (206) - Light heavyweight
Marthin Hamlet (205.6) vs. Josh Silveira (205.6) - Light heavyweight
Jake Childers (155) vs. Nate Jennerman (155) - Lightweight
PFL 4: Collard vs Martinez takes place this Friday night starting at 7:00pm EST with the prelims streaming on ESPN+. The main card will be simulcast on ESPN2 and ESPN+ starting at 10:00pm.