Clay Collard understands how perception works in MMA. Because the UFC is the biggest promotion in the world, there’s a general consensus that athletes competing there are also the best.
Collard, a UFC vet now working in the PFL, doesn’t buy that at all.
While Collard knows there are a lot of great UFC fighters, he knows without a doubt the best of the best from the PFL could hang there. He doesn’t care that much if anybody believes him.
“People are going to think what they think,” Collard told MMA Fighting. “I can’t really control what people think. I know I’m one of the baddest men around, and I’ll prove it again and again and again and again.
“People can think what they want, but you can’t deny me. I’m big dog on campus right now.”
Since joining the PFL roster, Collard has quickly become must-see television, engaging in memorable wars with established veterans like ex-UFC lightweight champion Anthony Pettis and Jeremy Stephens. He’s gone 5-1 in his past six fights with his only loss coming in 2021 against PFL lightweight champion Raush Manfio. Collard still feels he won the bout.
As much as Collard could justifiably feel slighted that he doesn’t get mentioned among elite fighters at 155 pounds, he’s not all that concerned about people holding him in the same regards as names like Charles Oliveira, Islam Makhachev, Dustin Poirier or Justin Gaethje.
“I don’t care,” Collard said. “I know I’m one of the baddest dudes in the world. I’m going to have the people who love me, and I’m going to have the people who hate me. I had people saying that was one of the greatest fights they’ve ever seen when I fought Jeremy Stephens. I think Jeremy Stephens was a killer in there.
“You’re going to have the people that love you and the people that hate you, but I’m a bad dude regardless. I honestly don’t give a s*** what people think. I’m doing it.”
More than anything, Collard is just happy with the personal growth he’s shown in recent years, which also included a number of professional boxing fights. He spent four fights with the UFC between 2014 and 2015, but looking back now, he doesn’t even recognize himself when compared to the work he’s put in lately.
“I signed with the UFC at a very young age,” he said. “I don’t feel like I was mature enough. I’m a grown-ass man now, and I feel like I’m coming into my prime. I’ve got a few good years left, and we’re going to take this fighting thing by storm.”
As he prepares for a main event fight against Alexander Martinez at PFL 4 on Friday, Collard is keeping his eyes on the prize. He aims to take out another opponent and reach the $1 million payout after coming up short one year ago.
Collard promises it will be impossible to ignore his name forever.
“The man to talk about is Clay Collard,” he said. “It’s good to have good competition, I beat both [Anthony Pettis and Jeremy Stephens], it’s time to start talking about me.”