When Clay Collard exited the UFC, few might have guessed at the combat sports future awaiting the then 21-year-old. A debut Octagon loss to Max Holloway was followed by an ugly win over Alex White, and then back-to-back defeats at the hands of Gabriel Benitez and Tiago Trator. With a 14-7-1 record already under his belt, he seemed primed to go the route of journeyman action fighter, winning and losing in smaller MMA promotions around the US.
Instead, he’s plunged headfirst into a surprisingly successful career as a professional boxer. Collard has a long history both with amateur wrestling and boxing growing up, so the move to the ring isn’t necessarily a shock. But, the success he’s finding there feels very unexpected for a fighter who didn’t even always look the part of a dominant striker in the cage.
Collard has run up a 6-2-3 record as a pro boxer—which may not in and of itself seem impressive. But, he’s been doing it largely as the journeyman opponent brought in to face young prospects on the rise. His opponents have had a combined record of 59-3 at the time he’s faced them.
In his latest win, Collard looked dominant, punishing unbeaten prospect Raymond Guajardo with long combinations to the body and head on his way to a 2nd round TKO. Check out the highlight below:
Collard was briefly linked to a UFC return back in August of 2019, as a short notice replacement for John Makdessi against Devonte Smith on UFC 241: Cormier vs. Miocic 2. Unfortunately, unspecified medical complications prevented Collard from getting licensed for the fight. However, alongside his boxing career, he’s put up a 4-1 MMA record following his UFC release back in 2015.
During the broadcast of his fight with Guajardo, the commentary team reported that this would be Collard’s last boxing bout before returning to MMA. Apparently ‘Cassius’ Clay is targeting a run in one of PFL’s million dollar tournaments this year, most likely at lightweight.
“I’m chasing some money right now, man,” Collard said when asked about his move back to MMA after the fight. “I’ve been doing this since I was 6-years-old. It’s my dream, but I’m ready to scrap, so let’s go. Line ‘em up. And right now, that’s where I think I’m gonna cash in a little bit.”
Assuming he and the promotion can strike a deal, Collard may be primed to give two-time winner Natan Schulte a run for his money.
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