2024 PFL 5 Main Event Breakdown

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It’s the third week of June, and you know what that means in MMA circles: Playoff brackets are getting locked in as the PFL postseason looms in August. A week ago Thursday, the heavyweight and women’s flyweight playoffs were crystalized in PFL 4 from Mohegan Sun Arena, absent of any fighter withdrawals.

Over the next two Friday nights, the remaining four divisions will see their brackets finalized. It continues this week in Salt Lake City, UT where PFL 5 takes place from The Jon M. Huntsman Center, the home court of The University of Utah Runnin’ Utes men’s and women’s basketball teams.

Live coverage begins Friday afternoon at 5 pm ET/ 2 pm PT on ESPN+, continuing at 8 pm ET/ 5 pm PT on ESPN proper. This week, lightweights and light heavyweights head to the SmartCage to try and clinch a spot in this year’s postseason. Winners on Friday’s card advance to PFL 8 on Aug. 16 from Hard Rock Live in Hollywood, FL.

Collard and Burnell Meet with Paths at a Crossroad in PFL 5 Main Event

Highlighting the night is a contest at 155 lbs. in the PFL 5 main event. Clay Collard (25-12, 1 NC MMA, 1-0 2024 PFL, five points in the standings) looks to clinch a playoff spot when he faces Mads Burnell (18-6 MMA, 0-1 2024 PFL, zero points in the standings), who currently sits in last place.

As with all PFL main events up to the semifinal round, the PFL 5 main event is an advertised maximum of three rounds at five minutes per round to close the show.

2024 PFL 5 Main Event Fighter Comparison and Betting Odds

Heading into the PFL 5 main event on Friday night, Clay Collard stands as the taller man at six feet even, compared to Mads Burnell’s 5-foot-8 frame. Collard owns a six-inch reach advantage (74 inches to 68 inches), as well as a five-inch leg reach advantage (41 inches to 36 inches) over Burnell.

Currently, the oddsmakers have Clay Collard installed as a -298 favorite on the money line, while Mads Burnell counters as a +240 underdog. If you plan on betting on this or any other fight happening in MMA this weekend, please wager responsibly.

Collard Fighting In Front of a Hometown Crowd

Clay Collard enters the main event having posted a record of 3-2 in his last five fights. Friday’s contest is already his third appearance so far in 2024.

Last time out, he scored a second-round standing TKO (punches) against Patricky Pitbull (Freire) (25-13 MMA, 0-1 2024 PFL, zero points in the standings) during PFL 2 on April 12. If the PFL regular season were to end today, Clay Collard would be in the lightweight playoffs as the No. 2 seed in the bracket, having lost out on the No. 1 seed by having a slower second-round finish than Michael Dufort (13-4 MMA, 1-0 2024 PFL, five points in the standings), having finished Pitbull in 1:32 of round two, compared to Dufort stopping Burnell in 1:03 of round two.

Last month, he talked to our Andrew Benjamin about fighting in Utah, where he was born.

“I love it,” Collard began. “I love fighting in front of my people and in front of my friends and my family and the people that support me. That’s why I work so hard is for all of them and for them to all be able to show up and be there and be live. I’m just going to feed off [of] that energy and try to put on a banger.”

If there were ever a true meaning of a “home game” for Clay Collard, the PFL 5 main event would be it. Can he book a playoff spot in front of his friends and family?

Odds Stacked Against Mads Burnell in PFL 5 Main Event

In the other corner, Mads Burnell has gone 2-3 in his last five fights. On April 12, Burnell was on the receiving end of a second-round submission (guillotine choke) from the aforementioned Michael Dufort in PFL 2. Despite the long odds to make the playoffs, he hasn’t allowed himself to go there.

“That would be cool, but that’s not on my mind,” Burnell said of the $1 million jackpot awaiting champions to MMAJunkie. “I didn’t go into this tournament thinking about $1 million, I’m still not thinking about $1 million, I’m just thinking about (expletive deleted) whooping ass. That’s all I’m thinking about, and if you keep whooping ass, the $1 million will be eventually in my bank account.”

Only time will tell if he can play spoiler.

Analysis, Film Study, and Prediction

Stylistically, the PFL 5 main event looks to favor Mads Burnell, a first-degree black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, compared to Clay Collard’s status as a boxer.

Look for Collard to Swing Away

Given that Clay Collard has had a history as a professional boxer, it stands to reason that he’ll swing for the fences on Friday night. Patricky Pitbull knows this firsthand from their fight in April.

Midway through the second round, Collard moved in on Pitbull and started landing a variety of punches on his opponent. While Pitbull tried his best to cover up, “Cassius” was simply too tough to beat.  If Clay Collard lands the first big punch of the PFL 5 main event, it could be a done deal.

Burnell Can Get the Job Done Quickly

In the other corner, Mads Burnell is also a man who can work expediently. His 2019 fight vs. Ahmed Vila is a prime example.

Not even 20 seconds into the Cage Warriors bout, Burnell completed a takedown and grappled with him, locking up a Japanese necktie in just 50 seconds. If Mads Burnell pounces on Clay Collard quickly, he’ll score an upset and shake up the playoff pairings.

Final Thoughts

Don’t let the positions of these guys in the standings fool you. The PFL 5 main event could be a great contest.

Prediction: Clay Collard by Second-Round KO. 

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Drew Zuhosky has been writing about combat sports since May of 2018, coming to MMASucka after stints at Overtime Heroics and Armchair All-Americans. A graduate of Youngstown State University in Youngstown, OH, Drew is a charter member of the Youngstown Press Club. Prior to beginning his professional career, Drew was a sportswriter for YSU's student-run newspaper, The Jambar, where he supplied Press Box Perspective columns every week.