Olivier Aubin-Mercier Planning on Year Off After PFL Championship — And Possibly Retirement

In just a little over two months, Canada’s Olivier Aubin-Mercier will have the opportunity to defend his PFL lightweight championship and win a second million dollar payday.

After that, “The Canadian Gangster” is looking to take a lengthy vacation — and there’s a chance he could hang up the gloves for good.

That’s a bit of a shock, coming from a fighter who has found incredible success since parting ways with the UFC in 2019. Aubin-Mercier (20-5) has compiled a nine-fight win streak since, and after being criticized as a fighter known for decisions, he’s also finished three of his last four bouts.

That newfound knack for ending fights early is about the opportunity presenting itself in the cage, plus maturity, OAM told Cageside Press in a recent exclusive interview.

“I do think it’s a lot about the opportunity, the maturity I have now. I’m calmer about that stuff. That’s how I see it,” explained Aubin-Mercier. “Last year I finished the final with a KO, but the fight before too, I knocked down the guy two times. I was not able to finish it, but I was close, and I think this year I understood that I have to take my time when that stuff happens, and that’s what I did with [Bruno] Miranda, I took my time on the ground.”

It was against Bruno Miranda that Aubin-Mercier punched his ticket to return to the PFL Championship for the second year running. It’s a different feeling for the Canadian this year, however. In 2022, “it was kind of stressful. One fight could change your life. This year, I’m just here to have a bonus. I feel better than last year, that’s for sure.”

A year ago, OAM had debated if he would even come back for another PFL season. Despite his success and the spectre of back-to-back championship wins, there’s a very good chance he does not return for the three-peat.

“This year is different. I say the same thing, but I have other stuff. I’m just tired. I think I just need a big break, and that’s what I’m going to do after this fight, I’m going to take a year off minimum,” revealed Aubin-Mercier, adding that “it could even be my last fight.”

“I’m going to see how I feel, but right now I need a break. I need vacation. They say ‘yeah but you had vacation in between the two seasons.’ It’s like bro, the vacations are so small. It’s a month, it’s a month and a half and then you have to go back in training camp. So no, it was not a real vacation. I need at least a year off this time. I’m going to see how I feel, and if this is the end, this is the end, if it’s not, it’s not.”

Asked if that year off was set in stone, Aubin-Mercier said that it was. “Yeah for sure. Stuff happens in life, and some stuff happened in my life, so I do think I need a year off right now.”

That makes Olivier Aubin-Mercier’s fight with Clay Collard arguably even bigger. Collard told Cageside Press recently that he wasn’t exactly expecting a banger in the fight. Perhaps tongue-in-cheek, OAM asked us to tell Collard that it would be.

“Tell him it’s going to be a banger. Tell him we’re going to trade standing up. Tell him to be careful with leg kicks, tell him to be careful with defense— the thing with Clay though, it’s when you punch him once, he punches you three times after that,” Aubin-Mercier said with a chuckle. “So I do have to be careful with that actually. But tell him that next time you see him.”

If the Collard fight is the end of the road for Olivier Aubin-Mercier as an active fighter, he would like to continue in the sport in some capacity.

“I would like to stay involved, but there’s a lot of options. I could do a grappling match like GSP, or I could help PFL find the next fighters from Quebec, from Canada. I would like to grow PFL here in Canada.”

Noting the success he’s found — he considers himself one of the PFL’s best investments — Aubin-Mercier added that “I would like to bring PFL in Quebec, that’s for sure too.”

Speaking of Georges St-Pierre, a teammate of OAM, we asked for Aubin-Mercier’s take on who he should face in his upcoming grappling match at the Fight Pass Invitational.

“I think the smart thing to do would be Diaz personally. Because they’ve got the name,” replied OAM. And no doubt either Diaz brother would be interesting — Nate is the bigger star these days, but Nick and GSP have history. “But after that, Khabib [Nurmagomedov] would be great. I think Khabib would be awesome, after the Diaz [match]. I think both GSP and Khabib need a fight before that, but I think that’s what everyone wants to see.”

A fight between St-Pierre and Nurmagomedov was talked about frequently before both finally retired from the UFC. Talk of them meeting in grappling has also made the rounds, and would no doubt be a big seller. But could GSP be interested in more than one match?

“That’s a good question. We all know GSP was really open about that, that the stress was a big part of the reason he stopped MMA. But he still loves training and he’s still good, I can tell you that. But if he don’t feel that much pressure doing grappling, I think we could see him more often doing grappling,” said Aubin-Mercier. After all, in grappling, you can compete every week. “I do think we’re going to see him a little more. I have to talk to him about that, but I would like to see more, that’s for sure.”

Watch our full interview with defending PFL lightweight champion Olivier Aubin-Mercier above. OAM faces Clay Collard at the 2023 PFL Championship in Washington, D.C. on November 24.