It might have taken beating a former UFC and WEC champion, but Clay Collard feels like he is finally getting the respect he deserves.
Collard (20-8-1) makes his return to the PFL smart cage for the playoffs in the semi-finals this week. Before the season began, according to the Draft Kings, Collard was a +15,000 to win the whole thing. Now that he is one fight away from the title and payday, the odds have him at +240.
In an exclusive interview with Cageside Press, he gave his thoughts on the odds.
“You know, it feels like I’m finally getting that respect that I deserve. They kept counting me out, calling me the underdog for so long. It is nice to see those odds change a little bit because of the hard work, the wins that we’ve gotten, and the things we’ve done in the sport,” Collard said. “So yeah, man, whoever bet back then-they are a lucky man.”
With the odds changing and Collard seeing the respect from the oddsmakers, he also realizes that the fans see him as an elite fighter. And if they don’t well, “They are living under a rock in the fight world,” Collard said.
“I’ve been at this a very long time. I’ve made it to many of the biggest organizations in the world. I’ve fought ex-world champions; I’ve fought guys before they came world champions. I’ve been around forever, and I’ve been working. So, I think I’ve finally come into my own as a man and as a person with physical and mental maturity, you know, just growing up a little bit.
Right now, I’m focused, and when I’m focused, working, and having fun, I’m dangerous.
“I think you have to respect the fact that I am one of the best dudes around because I’ve proved it. If you don’t think so, keep lining them up.”
Collard faces Raush Manfio, who, just like him, defeated former UFC and WEC lightweight champion Anthony Pettis in the semifinals.
“I think it’s an exciting [matchup], and I think it has the potential to be a battle. He’s tough, gritty, quick, explosive, and he’s got to deal with me,” Collard said.
Watch the rest of the interview above where Clay Collard talks about the PFL format, his break, being on the undercard of Anthony Pettis, who he wants next, and more.
The first round of the PFL playoffs is this Friday, August 13, and will air on ESPN+ and ESPN 2.