Thanksgiving week in MMA is generally a light weekend of action. Most years, the fights take a backseat to a full four days of college and NFL football. Last year, however, one promotion changed all that.
2023 marks the second straight year of fights on Black Friday from the PFL. In the run-up to this week’s PFL 10 (Friday, 8 pm ET/ 5 pm PT) from Washington, DC, however, the combined $6 million (USD) in prize money and championship belts pale in comparison to what occurred behind the scenes earlier on in fight week.
PFL Merger with Bellator Complete Ahead of PFL 10 Main Event
Monday morning, after months of waiting, wondering, and some hand-wringing, a much-talked about merger between the PFL and Bellator MMA was consummated. As a result of the merger, the PFL and its associated brands will now offer 30 cards per calendar year starting in 2024.
In addition, a Monday press release appearing on both the Bellator and PFL official websites indicates that the calendar of events will be highlighted by a card matching champions from both promotions against each other. Bright days are ahead from both promotions.
Lightweight Championship on the Line in PFL 10 Main Event
As usual, PFL 10 will feature every weight class’ championship bout with a $1 million cash prize awaiting the winner.
Highlighting the night’s itinerary is the battle for supremacy at 155 lbs. in the PFL 10 main event. No. 1 seed Olivier Aubin-Mercier (20-5 MMA, 3-0 PFL 2023) will try to defend his strap from a year ago when he meets No. 2 seed Clay Collard (24-10 MMA, 3-0 PFL 2023.)
Like all PFL championship bouts, the PFL 10 main event is an advertised maximum of five rounds at five minutes per round to close the show.
𝑰𝑻’𝑺 𝑭𝑰𝑮𝑯𝑻 𝑾𝑬𝑬𝑲❗️It’s all led up to this 🏆💰
6️⃣PFL World Title bouts
6️⃣Million Dollars on the lines
6️⃣Lives changed in Washington DC
— PFL (@PFLMMA) November 20, 2023
PFL 10 Main Event Fighter Comparison and Betting Odds
Heading into the PFL 10 main event on Friday night, Clay Collard stands as the taller man at six feet even, compared to the 5-foot-10 frame of Olivier Aubin-Mercier. Collard owns a three-inch reach advantage (74 inches to 71 inches) over Aubin-Mercier, who has a one-inch leg reach advantage (42 inches to 41 inches.)
As of Tuesday afternoon, the oddsmakers have Olivier Aubin-Mercier installed as a -265 favorite on the money line, with Clay Collard countering as a +215 underdog. If you plan on betting on this or any other fight happening this weekend, please wager responsibly.
Can Aubin-Mercier Bring Home the Payday Again?
Olivier Aubin-Mercier has posted a record of 5-0 in his last five fights. Currently, he’s on a nine-fight winning streak since joining the PFL in 2021.
Last time out, he booked a spot in the championship card with a second-round knockout of Bruno Miranda (16-4 MMA, 2-1 PFL 2023) in the semifinals back in August. Recently, Olivier Aubin-Mercier was interviewed by John Morgan about facing Clay Collard in the PFL 10 main event on Friday.
“You have a strange style,” Aubin-Mercier said of Collard. “He’s really game. Great personality, too. I like the guy. The guy is crazy. His family is crazy, too. They almost fought one of my friends two fights ago, so it’s an interesting matchup. I like it, I really like it.”
Clay Collard Ready to Knock Olivier Aubin-Mercier from Ranks of Unbeaten in PFL
In the other corner, Clay Collard has gone 4-1 in his last five MMA fights. Currently, he’s on a three-fight winning streak dating back to April 14.
Most recently, he scored a unanimous decision victory against Shane Burgos (16-5 MMA, 1-2 PFL 2023) in August to secure his place in Friday’s fight. A boxer who competed in Top Rank during the pandemic, Collard is poised to take the title from Olivier Aubin-Mercier, if his recent interview with MMAJunkie is any indication.
“I called it at the first of the year that it was going to be me in the championship,” Collard said. “I had a couple little hiccups throughout the season with little, minor injuries and things like that. We battled through adversity and stayed focused, and we’re ready to fight for a world title.”
Analysis, Film Study, and Prediction
Stylistically, the PFL 10 main event looks to favor Olivier Aubin-Mercier, a decorated combat athlete with black belts in judo and Brazilian jiu-jitsu and a blue belt in Taekwondo, while Clay Collard is a boxer by trade.
Watch for Aubin-Mercier’s Knees
Sometimes in MMA, you do not have to finish a fight by going upstairs. A strike down the middle can be just as sufficient. Anthony Romero found this out the hard way back in June.
During the third and final round of that semifinal fight, Romero pieced Aubin-Mercier up with a combination, while the latter returned with some feints. A moment later, Romero made a crucial mistake as he stepped into the path of an Aubin-Mercier knee to the body, getting knocked out on contact.
Clay Collard Can Box His Way to a Million
In the other corner, do not discount Clay Collard’s chances in the PFL 10 main event. He can get the job done with his boxing prowess, like he did against Stevie Ray.
Round two of the fight saw Collard knock Ray down with a punch. Upon Ray getting back up, Collard went to work again, landing furious punches to wobble and knock him down.
At this point in the contest, Collard knew he had the win wrapped up. A burst of ground and pound served as the exclamation point to a successful night inside the PFL SmartCage.
Look for Clay Collard to come out swinging in the main event.
These two fighters have worked their hardest to get to this point, but who will be the better man on Friday?
Prediction: Olivier Aubin-Mercier by Unanimous Decision.