Clay Collard and Jeremy Stephens might have put on the best fight in PFL history.
The two lightweight fighters went toe-to-toe for 15 minutes, trading all kinds of strikes in the headlining act of 2022 PFL 1. Collard (21-9) was awarded a unanimous decision win over Stephens (28-20), scoring 30-27 on all three judges’ scorecards.
2022 PFL 1 took place on Wednesday night in Arlington, Texas.
It was a wild and back-and-forth outing.
In the first round, Stephens came out hot – landing several right hooks that caught the attention of Collard. Stephens landed flush and hard, but Collard took the shots well. Halfway through the round, Collard began pressuring Stephens and out-striking him with volume. Stephens had his moments, but Collard was connecting clean and often.
The excitement followed in the second, as both fighter went toe-to-toe in high-paced striking battle. Once again, Stephens’ power was in display, bit it was outshined by Collard’s volume and accuracy. As the round proceeded, the ware became visible on Stephens.
In Round 3, Stephens tried to battle through with toughness, power and pressure. He had an admirable effort making it a fight and forcing Collard to work. Collard had also slowed down significantly and was connecting with less frequency. It was a close and competitive round.
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With this result, Collard scored three points in the season, while Stephens left empty handed.
Collard managed to bounce back from his loss to eventual 2021 PFL lightweight champion Raush Manfio, which saw him out of the playoffs. Pior to that, he had two victories including an upset win over former UFC champion Anthony Pettis.
Meanwhile, Stephens failed to make a successful transition to the PFL. The fan-favorite fighter was making his first appearance since leaving the UFC, where he fought for almost 15 years. The 35-year-old is winless in his last seven bouts, a run that includes six defeats and one no contest.