Two of the most popular fighters in the PFL square off in tonight’s main event, both looking to become the PFL Lightweight World Champion.
Olivier Aubin-Mercier has been unstoppable since making his PFL debut in 2021. OAM emphatically knocked out Stevie Ray in last year’s World Championships card to claim PFL gold — Aubin-Mercier’s first piece of gold in a major MMA organization. On a mission to join a very small group of PFL fighters who have won PFL gold in back-to-back years, Aubin-Mercier defeated Shane Burgos and Anthony Romero in the regular season before advancing to tonight’s title fight with a second-round TKO of Bruno Miranda. Aubin-Mercier has been honest this week about thinking of retirement; if tonight marks his last fight, can he go out on top with another PFL World Title?
A dangerous and hard-hitting boxer, Clay Collard has always made his fights competitive and entertaining. After reaching the semifinals in 2021 and missing the playoffs in 2022, Collard finally makes it to his first world title fight. This season saw Collard defeat Yamato Nishikawa and Ray before a win over Shane Burgos in the semifinals.
Can OAM earn PFL gold for the second time? Or can Collard finally earn the PFL world title he’s been longing for?
Aubin-Mercier looks to come forward, but Collard comes out right away with low kicks. Small combination by Collard as he attacks the lead leg. Aubin-Mercier tries to start a couple of combinations but Collard hits the front leg with a low kick each time. Left hand by OAM. And another. Collard lands a sharp right but misses a calf kick. OAM lands a kick to the body and scores a takedown. OAM gets to Collard’s back 90 seconds into the round but Collard is able to bring the fight back to the feet. OAM drives Collard to his head as Collard tries to roll through. OAM with a knee as he brings the fight back down. Aubin-Mercier gets to Collard’s back again and locks a triangle body lock, looking to secure a rear-naked choke.
Olivier Aubin-Mercier showcasing his grappling pedigree... He ends round 1 in dominant positioin#PFLWorldChampionship LIVE NOW— PFL (@PFLMMA) November 25, 2023
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OAM can’t get the choke, but he continues to rain down blows on Collard. Aubin-Mercier looks to weaken Collard’s guard by working on the inside. Collard tries to get to his feet, getting OAM off his back, but Aubin-Mercier gets to the back again. Collard gets up, but OAM brings him back down once again. Collard rolls through, however, and looks for a heel hook! Aubin-Mercier scrambles and gets back to Collard’s back once more with another body lock. Collard tries to land several left hands to OAM’s shoulder to create some offense in the final seconds of the round.
Collard looks to resume the calf kick attacks. OAM pressing forward. High kick from Aubin-Mercier. Right hand by Aubin-Mercier. Front kick from OAM. Collard works the body, followed by a low kick. OAM tries to lock up Collard’s body, but it appears OAM couldn’t get it after stepping wrong — or if his right leg was damaged too much already from Collard’s leg kicks. Aubin-Mercier gets Collard’s back to the fence. Collard trying to work the body on the inside. OAM shoots in and scores another takedown.
OAM has Collard pinned up against the SmartCage and appears to be in the mount. OAM transitions and gets to Collard’s back again. OAM in a backpack position, throwing down some shots to weaken Collard’s guard again. Collard tries to stand up, but Aubin-Mercier brings him back to the ground. In the closing seconds of the round, Collard tried to turn to escape Aubin-Mercier’s grasp, but he was unable to do so.
Collard tries to work OAM’s body and get Aubin-Mercier’s back to the fence. OAM tries to shoot in but Collard keeps a hold of his neck. OAM shoots again for a body lock and he’s able to score another takedown in the round’s opening minute. OAM quickly gets himself into the mount and postures up. Collard looked to escape from half-guard and was able to do so. That said, OAM was relentless in pressure and brought him back down quickly.
Aubin-Mercier works his position and gets Collard into some sort of split position, stretching out one of Collard’s legs. OAM transitions into a crucifix, which Collard tries to reverse and escape from. Collard gets the fight back to the feet, as the two battle against the fence near Collard’s corner. Collard looks to stomp at OAM’s feet and press him against the fence. OAM reverses the position, but Collard uses body shots to bring the fight back to the center for the final 10 seconds of the round.
OAM with a couple of low kicks to start. Collard tries to counter by working a combination. OAM trying to land his low kicks but he seems to have trouble moving. Counterpunching from Collard lands. OAM tries to grab a hold of Collard, but Collard circles out of it. Aubin-Mercier shoots, but Collard stuffs the takedown attempt. One-two from Collard in close. OAM goes in again and Collard reverses, pinning Aubin-Mercier against the SmartCage. Collard goes for stomps.
OAM gets backed up with a right hand from Collard. OAM lands low kicks to wobble Collard’s balance. OAM pressing Collard against the fence now. Collard tries to land to the body in spite of his positioning. Collard is warned for grabbing the fence while in the midst of a struggle against the SmartCage. The referee calls for separation with about 30 seconds left in the round — right before OAM completes a takedown. Collard stalks OAM in the closing seconds, pressuring him.
Collard cracks OAM with a right hand to start the round! Aubin-Mercier, however, secures a takedown quickly and gets right back to Collard’s back. That was all in the first 15 seconds! OAM has a body triangle in but is riding high on Collard. Aubin-Mercier has Collard locked up. Fans get restless over a lack of action. OAM, while riding high in a backpack position, landing to the head of Collard. Aubin-Mercier lands some shots but can’t get much progress toward breaking Collard’s defenses. Aubin-Mercier brings Collard back in a flat position.
Aubin-Mercier goes for the neck, looking for a rear-naked choke! Collard gets out of the choke attempt, but OAM remains on his back on the ground. OAM lands shots to both sides of Collard’s head, looking for a choke. OAM has Collard flat again as he looks for another choke. Aubin-Mercier can’t find it, but he’s staying heavy in his pressure on Collard’s back. Nevertheless, OAM mostly dominates with his relentless grappling and will be a back-to-back PFL Lightweight World Champion!
Olivier Aubin-Mercier def. Clay Collard via unanimous decision (49-46, 49-46, 49-46)