The PFL announced the main event for the 2021 season and it features the debut of former UFC lightweight champion Anthony Pettis.
Pettis (24-10-0), 34, will face former octagon colleague and current two-sport athlete Clay Collard in the main event. Fans will remember ‘Showtime’ went out on a two-fight win streak in the UFC before entering free agency and deciding to go with the PFL.
Collard (27-8-0), 27, who initially took up boxing at 11 years old, has reinvented himself in the ring working with Top Rank since May 2019 after leaving MMA. He has a respectable 9-3-3 record with 4 KOs, and will be returning back to the cage for the first time since April 2019.
The co-main event will feature two-time PFL lightweight champion Nathan Schulte (20-3-1), who will begin his quest for a third consecutive title against 19-yea-old Polish submission specialist Marcin Held (26-7-0).
Two-time PFL featherweight champion Lance Palmer (22-3-0) starts off the main card against his former collegiate wrestling rival Bubba Jenkins (14-4-0).
Viral sensation Movlid Khaybulaev (15-0-1, 1NC) returns against undefeated submission ace Jason Soares (14-0-0).
“The PFL’s season kickoff on April 23 is one that is sure to be a showstopper and full of nonstop action,” PFL CEO Peter Murray said in a press release. “The talent that exists within these matchups is unparalleled and we can’t wait to see the outcome of each fight. The PFL is proud to kick off its season on ESPN and ESPN+ and we are excited for our fans, old and new, around the world to experience premium MMA content.”
“As a fighter-first organization, we take great pride in the matchups and superior talent of our fighters,” president of fighter operations Ray Sefo added. “I’m excited to kick off the season on April 23 with our featherweight and lightweight division matchups which are full of incredible talent.”
The full card is:
ESPN 2 Card
Anthony Pettis vs. Clay Collard
Natan Schulte vs. Marcin Held
Movlid Khaybulaev vs. Jason Soares
Lance Palmer vs. Bubba Jenkins
Loik Radzhabov vs. Johnny Case
Joilton Lutterbach vs. Olivier Aubin-Mercier
Akhmed Aliev vs. Mikhail Odintsov
Jo Sungbin vs. Tyler Diamond
Brendan Loughnane vs. Sheymon Moraes
The 2021 season begins on April 23 on ESPN2, ESPN Deportes and live streamed on ESPN+ in primetime. The regular season events are scheduled for April 29, May 6, June 10, June 17, and June 25.