PFL World Championship: Olivier Aubin-Mercier wins decision over Clay Collard to win second lightweight championship

2023 PFL Championships Ceremonial Weigh-Ins at The Anthem in Washington D.C., Thursday, Nov. 23, 2023. (Cooper Neill / PFL)

In the main event of tonight’s PFL World Championship event, the lightweight title was on the line. 2022 champion Olivier Aubin-Mercier (20-5) was looking to make it two in a row as he took on the fan-favorite “Cassius” Clay Collard (24-10).

Since making his PFL debut in 2021, Aubin-Mercier has been nothing short of dominant. He’s been perfect with the promotion and held a perfect 9-0 record heading into tonight. This season, he was a perfect 3-0 and scored back-to-back finishes ahead of tonight’s championship event.

While not everyone has always loved OAM’s style, that’s not something you could say about Clay Collard. The boxing specialist has dazzled fans this year with two entertaining wins over Shane Burgos and Yamato Nishikawa. In addition to those, he knocked out Stevie Ray on his way to earning a spot in the finals tonight.

PFL World Championship Recap

Round 1

The PFL lightweight fight kicked off with Aubin-Mercier immediately trying to close the distance on Collard. Big left straight lands for Aubin-Mercier. Combination now from Collard. Left hand from Aubin-Mercier and Collard fires back. Nice head movement from Collard. Both men trade leg kicks and Collard circles away.

Body kick from Aubin-Mercier and now a left hand. Big left straight from Aubin-Mercier and Collard moves forward behind a combination. Big body kick from OAM and now he shoots for a takedown. Aubin-Mercier has Collard against the fence and he gets him down briefly. Collard gets to his feet but OAM is hanging on the back here.

Nice knee to the body from Aubin-Mercier. Aubin-Mercier secures the body triangle and now he has full back control. Collard trying to stay composed here. Collard postures up and he’s trying to get Aubin-Mercier high on the back to shake him off. However, Aubin-Mercier adjusts and Collard drops down.

Short shots from Aubin-Mercier as he looks to soften up Collard here. Scramble from Collard and he breaks the body triangle. Aubin-Mercier still has ahold of him. Collard rolls for a leg and breaks the control. Another scramble and Aubin-Mercier gets the back once again. The round comes to a close and it’s 1-0 OAM at the PFL World Championship.

Round 2

The second round is underway and OAM is right back on the pressure. Nice left hand from Aubin-Mercier. Collard is very light on his feet and eats a high kick from Aubin-Mercier. Both men trade rights in the center. Collard pushes forward with a combination that he finishes with a calf kick.

Takedown attempt from OAM and he looks awkward on his right leg. It might be damaged and Collard is able to stay on his feet. However, Aubin-Mercier still has a body lock and he pushes Collard to the fence. Collard breaks free momentarily but OAM is right back on the pressure.

Collard lands but Aubin-Mercier secures the takedown with three minutes left in the round. OAM settles into the guard of Collard halfway through the round. Aubin-Mercier moves right to mount and now he once again gets the back of Clay Collard. Dominant position for OAM with two minutes left to work.

Aubin-Mercier looking for a rear naked choke here but Collard is defending well. Collard tries standing but OAM stays right on his back and OAM takes things right back down. Full body triangle for Aubin-Mercier. Aubin-Mercier is just suffocating here and Collard is just hanging on. The round comes to a close and it’s 2-0 OAM.

Round 3

Aubin-Mercier looking like he’s on his way to winning a second straight PFL championship entering the third round. Collard comes right out with heavy pressure of his own to start the third. Big combinations from Collard and OAM lands a nice left. Aubin-Mercier goes for a takedown but he can’t get it.

Collard breaks away and lands a right hand. Aubin-Mercier deep on another double leg and down goes Collard. Immediate mount for OAM but Collard forces a scramble and gets back to his feet. Aubin-Mercier immediately goes right back on the pressure and pushes Collard against the fence. Judo throw from Aubin-Mercier and he gets back on top.

Just tremendous grappling from OAM here. Collard reverses things and now he’s trying get top position. However, Aubin-Mercier rolls with it and he’s going to end up with the dominant position here. Collard forces another scramble and he gets back to his feet. Less than two minutes left and Collard has OAM against the fence.

Nice knees to the body from Collard and now he works them to the thigh. Cage pressure from Collard and I’m surprised he’s not looking to break away here. OAM reverses things but Collard breaks away. The round is going to end and that was a close one.

Round 4

Entering the fourth and momentum might be turning at the PFL World Championship. Collard takes the center to start the fourth and Aubin-Mercier opens with two leg kicks. Collard pushes forward but can’t land. Big combination finished with a body shot from Collard. Now he’s starting to open up. Right hand for Collard and he’s walking OAM down here.

Body kick from Aubin-Mercier and a right hand from Collard. Vicious shots to the body from Collard. Spinning backfist from Collard and Aubin-Mercier shoots for a double. Nice defense from Collard and he breaks away. Another takedown attempt from Aubin-Mercier is stuffed by Collard.

Collard pushes Aubin-Mercier against the fence and he’s holding OAM there. Big knee from OAM and a right hand from Collard. They break and here comes Collard. Right hand from Collard and a nice leg kick from OAM. Huge body shots from Collard and Aubin-Mercier goes back on a takedown attempt.

Collard breaks the body lock and lands two big body hooks. Right back on the double leg attempt from Aubin-Mercier. OAM is just holding Collard here without doing much. The referee breaks the two guys apart and we are back to striking. The round ends and it should be another Collard round at the PFL World Championship.

Round 5

Entering the final round and I think whoever wins this round will win the PFL lightweight title. The final round starts and Collard begins with a huge combination. However, Aubin-Mercier secures a big takedown and immediately gets the back of Clay Collard. Four and a half minutes to work and this is the worst possible position for Clay Collard.

Collard staying composed here but he’s eating some soft shots here. Now Collard starts throwing back. Aubin-Mercier is definitely looking to attack a choke here. Shots from the back from Aubin-Mercier and now he settles on his back. Soft shots from OAM and he locks in the rear naked choke.

It’s deep but Collard is staying composed trying to defend. Collard is able to break free and survive, but Aubin-Mercier still has the full body triangle and he’s glued to the back of Collard. here. Collard tries to force a scramble but now OAM gets the choke position back briefly. Collard continues to try and get out but he can’t shake OAM. The round comes to a close and Olivier Aubin-Mercier should win his second straight PFL championship.

Olivier Aubin-Mercier def. Clay Collard by Unanimous Decision (49-46, 49-46, 49-46)