The PFL kicked off their 2022 season with a thriller of a card. There were close fights, quick finishes, and a war that closed off the event. Let’s take a look at what took place at PFL 1.
When the PFL announced that Clay Collard would take on Jeremy Stephens in the first main event of the 2022 regular season, you knew this fight was going to deliver and it did. Collard and Stephens put on arguably the greatest fight in PFL history. There was no feeling out process. They immediately met in the middle and slugged it out for 15 minutes. Collard went on to win a unanimous decision where all three judges scored the fight 30-27. The Verdict Scorecard had the fight closer than that, with Stephens edging out the 3rd round. Though he lost, Stephens was motivated by the fight and believes he’s going to finish every other fighter in his division. On the other hand, Collard is expected by many to make it to the Championship event. He was one fight away from doing that last year, but he lost a decision to Raush Manfio that many beleived was a robbery. A rematch between Collard and Stephens is possible in the PFL Championship event at the end of 2022 if Stephens is able to accumulate enough points in the regular season and win in the Playoffs. Imagine a 5 round rematch.
Returning PFL Lightweight Champion Raush Manfio took on Don Madge in the co-main event. Heading into the 3rd round, the judges and the Verdict Scorecard both had Raush Manfio losing a decision to Don Madge. It seemed like the reigning Champion was about to lose the first fight of the season, until midway through the 3rd round when Manfio cracked Madge with an overhand right then proceeded to finish him by TKO. With the stoppage, Manfio earned 4 points which put him in a great position to advance to the playoffs.
In January of 2021, Antônio Carlos Júnior was cut from the UFC. It seemed like it could have been the end of the road for Júnior until he got a call from the PFL a couple of months later. Júnior joined the PFL and went on to win a Championship and $1 Million that same year. This was the biggest purse Júnior had earned throughout his entire career. This prize motivated Júnior even more and you could see that in his return to the PFL as he submitted Delan Monte with a brabo choke in just 29 seconds. This first-round stoppage earned him 6 points. It looks like Júnior will be going far in this year's league again.
After withdrawing from his first fight in the PFL last year, Olivier Aubin-Mercier finally gets a fresh start and is able to compete in the league from the very beginning. Aubin-Mercier won 2 fights last year, but withdrawing from his first scheduled fight cost him points that led him to not qualifying for the playoffs. He got his chance to compete from the start in the PFL Season Opener and made the best of it as he was able to defeat former 2x PFL Champion Natan Schulte. It was a razor-close fight that could have gone either way but Aubin-Mercier secured the win via split decision.