PFL lightweight Clay Collard almost quit fighting altogether back in 2015 after he was cut by the UFC. Now the 28-year-old American is on a path to becoming a millionaire. Better yet, Collard is on that journey because he’s doing what he loves most: being an MMA fighter.
Collard’s story illustrates the life-changing magic of making a decision. Collard wasn’t sure what he wanted to do with his life five years ago until he was confronted with the choice. After that, it was all about making a decision and sticking to it in each moment moving forward.
“I finally made a decision that I’m a superstar, you know? And I’m going to prove it,” Collard said.
You can watch Collard chat about his PFL debut, his past fights, and plenty more things below.
Collard Beat ‘Showtime’ at PFL 1
Collard’s stunning victory over former UFC lightweight champion Anthony Pettis, coupled with two-time PFL champion Natan Schulte’s surprising loss on the same card, made “Cassius” Clay an early favorite in the men’s lightweight division.
Collard aims to become PFL’s next lightweight king. Doing so would nab him the PFL’s coveted championship belt as well as the million-dollar prize money that comes along with it.
While Collard’s victory over Pettis was a surprise to many in the sport, it wasn’t to him. The MMA star admitted he didn’t quite take his UFC career as seriously as he could have before, and that his two-year break from prizefighting helped him see what he wanted to do with his life.
“That run in the UFC, I just kick myself because I was hardly in the gym, and I was still going like three rounds with some of the top guys in the world and hanging with them, not even trying,” Collard said.
After stepping away from the sport to work odd jobs and wonder about his future, Collard eventually realized he truly wanted to be a professional fighter. And that now included doing all the things professional athletes have to do every day to be their best.
“I started to miss it more and more and more each day,” Collard said.
UFC Career Could Have Gone Differently
At the start of his 1-4 run in the UFC, Collard drew UFC superstar Max Holloway as his first assignment. While Collard said he had been serious about his MMA training before entering the UFC, once he got there things changed.
In fact, Collard said he took his first UFC fight against Holloway on just seven days’ notice and that he had to lose 26 pounds that week just to make the 150-pound catchweight for the bout.
“At the time, I had no idea who Max Holloway was. I looked him up after the fact…” Collard said.
To make matters worse, Collard probably wasn’t really in that great of a position to be accepting fights.
“I was out of the gym for about a month. I was out at a lake with my buddies, and…I think we had polished off about a half bottle of Jaeger by then, and we’re sitting on the boat and hanging out and my manager called me,” Collard said.
Collard took the fight, and he even thought he was on his way to winning it before Holloway stopped him in the third round.
“Honestly, I thought I had him in the first round. Then, I got tired and he didn’t…if I don’t get tired, who knows what happens?” Collard said.
So Collard would love to get that rematch, but he remains focused right now on achieving his PFL goals. After all, life doesn’t always bring back specific circumstances to rectify with new behaviors. Instead, it usually brings similar trials that offer new chances at making different choices.
Collard Hyped to Defeat Ex-UFC Champ
Beating Pettis in the first fight of the new season at PFL 1 was a great start, but Collard will need to keep the pedal to the medal all year long if he hopes to grab PFL gold.
White Pettis might still technically be the betting favorite to win the PFL’s lightweight championship this year, Collard believes he has the ex-UFC champ’s number and that’s exactly how he wants it.
Because Collard has seemingly had his eye on wrecking Collard for at least half a decade now.
“You know, I fought on the same card with Pettis back when we were both with the UFC, and…I don’t know, it’s just like the whole attitude that he brings to the fight, it was kind of like…’I’m the s***’, you know?”
Collard said he understands why every fighter has to have that same kind of attitude, but that there’s something about the way Pettis carries himself that still bothers him.
“It’s like he was looking past me…” Collard said.
But nobody will be looking past Collard now, not after his incredible win over Pettis at PFL 1 and not now that the American has his entire being ordered toward becoming the best MMA fighter he can be.
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