The 2022 PFL regular season is set to kick off this Wednesday with PFL #1: Collard vs. Stephens at the Esports Stadium in Arlington, Texas. The main event will feature a fight at lightweight between Clay Collard (20-9) and long-time UFC veteran Jeremy Stephens (28-19). The co-main event of the night is a fight between the 2021 PFL lightweight champion Raush Manfio (15-3) and rising star Don Madge (10-3-1). The prelims are set to begin at 5:30 p.m. ET/2 p.m. PT followed by the main card beginning at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT. The event will be available for streaming live on ESPN+.
PFL #1 Main Event: Collard vs. Stephens
The main event of PFL #1 will be between two seasoned veterans in Collard and Stephens, who have a combined 76 professional fights between them. Collard, who was signed to the PFL for the 2021 season is looking to make an impact in his first bout of the new season. In his first season with the promotion, Collard was able to spoil the PFL debut of the former UFC lightweight champion Anthony Pettis (24-12) by unanimous decision at PFL 2021 #1. Collard was also able to defeat long time professional fighter Joilton Lutterbach (35-10) at PFL 2021 #4, before falling to the eventual champion Raush Manfio at PFL 2021 #7. In addition to being an MMA fighter, Collard also frequently competes in professional boxing with his latest bout being this past December. Collard has 10 KO/TKOs on his record and no doubt is looking to bring the heat this Wednesday against Stephens. Jeremy Stephens, who made his professional debut in 2005 and UFC debut in 2007 is looking to turn a new chapter in his career with his new promotion in the PFL. The 35-year-old has seemingly fought everyone during his tenure in the UFC. He is currently on a five-fight losing streak to killers like Mateusz Gamrot (20-1), Calvin Kattar (23-5), Yair Rodriguez (13-3), Zabit Magomedsharipov (18-1), and José Aldo (31-7). Prior to his losing streak, Stephen was on a three-fight win streak beating Josh Emmett (17-2), Doo Ho Choi (14-4), and Gilbert Melendez (22-8). Stephens has lightning-fast hands and the power to put any lightweight out of commission. This is also shown through the 18 KO/TKOs on the fighter’s record. Leading to the build up this fight, there has been some back and forth between the two fighters. It will be interesting to see if Stephens will be able to revitalize his career with the PFL or if Collard will be playing spoiler for yet another newcomer.
PFL #1 Co-Main Event: Manfio vs. Madge
The co-main event for PFL #1 will be between the 2021 PFL lightweight champion Raush Manfio and the rising South African star Don Madge. En route to his 2021 PFL lightweight championship win, Manfio defeated the likes of Joilton Lutterbach, Anthony Pettis, Clay Collard, and Loik Radzhabov (16-4-1). Even though Manfio won his past four fights within the PFL by unanimous decision or split decision, he still holds tremendous power as he had finished seven of his opponents in his first eleven professional wins by KO/TKO. Manfio told MMA Junkie Radio that he was extremely surprised that the PFL did not bill him as the main event for the card and is looking to put on a show to prove to the promotion that he deserves the main event spot moving forward. Madge, on the other hand, will look to put a dent in the sophomore season of the returning PFL lightweight champion. Madge, who went professional in 2011 has not lost since 2015 and interestingly enough, all three of his professional losses are to the same fighter in Leon Mynhardt (15-11) on the South African regional scene. Madge has a two-fight UFC run where he defeated the likes of Te Edwards (6-3) and Fares Ziam (12-4) before joining the PFL in 2021. Madge is currently on a seven-fight win streak and has finished nine of his opponents in his ten professional wins. This co-main event will undoubtedly be on every PFL lightweight’s radar.
Rest of the Card
The card will also feature the 2021 PFL light heavyweight champion Antônio Carlos Júnior (13-5) kicking off his 2022 season against Delan Monte (8-1). Carlos Júnior was also a high-profile signing in 2021 as he went 7-5 within the UFC beforehand and was the winner of The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil 3 heavyweight tournament. Monte, on the other hand, has finished his opponents in all eight of his professional wins and is looking to continue this streak this Wednesday. Also on the card is Brazil’s Natan Schulte (21-4-1) who will be facing Canada’s Olivier Aubin-Mercier (13-5) in a lightweight bout. Before losing to Marcin Held (27-8) at PFL 2021 #1, Schulte was on a ten-fight unbeaten streak dating back to his last loss in 2017. The Brazilian fighter has nine submission wins and four KO/TKO wins to his name and is looking to add to his record. Aubin-Mercier is currently on a two-fight win streak and actually beat the aforementioned Held back at PFL 2021 #4. The card also features the 2021 PFL light heavyweight runner-up in Marthin Hamlet (8-3) who is scheduled to fight Teodoras Aukštuolis (11-5), as well as Omari Akhmedov (21-7) vs. Viktor Pešta (18-6) at light heavyweight.
The first card of 2022 is stacked from top to bottom with extremely talented fighters that you do not want to miss. MMASucka will also be providing live results along the way.