Clay Collard Secures Playoff Spot, Mads Burnell Wins PFL 5 Main Event

Mads Burnell, PFL 5
Mads Burnell, 2024 PFL 5: Salt Lake City Ceremonial Weigh-Ins at the Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City, Utah, Thursday, June 20, 2024. (Cooper Neill / PFL)

Capping off the night at Friday’s 2024 PFL 5 card in Salt Lake City, Utah, lightweight standout and 2023 finalist Clay Collard got to compete at home, taking on Bellator vet Mads Burnell.

A first-round finish would snag a playoff spot for Burnell, while a win of any kind would land Collard in another post-season. Were he to lose by finish, Collard needed it to come later in the second, or third round to advance to the post-season.

Collard, to the surprise of no-one, worked his boxing early, targeting the body – while both men mixed in kicks. Burnell ripped off an overhand, a kick to the midsection, and proved he was not adverse to standing toe-to-toe with “Cassius” Clay. Still, just over a minute in, Burnell opted to shift gears, change levels, and pull the legs out from under Clay. He could not keep Collard down, however, with the Utah native wall-walking up, once again letting his hands go. Strong body work by Collard underscored his game plan, and he seemed to be a step ahead of Burnell.

With a minute and a half on the clock, Mads Burnell again scored a takedown, but again, he could not keep Collard on the mat. Another takedown attempt led to similar results; Collard fought hands, posted up and regained his feet, only to roll and grab an arm from bottom just prior to the bell.

The second round found Burnell going back to the takedown just inside of a minute. This time, Burnell was in guard with Collard stacked up against the fence. Collard was warned for grabbing the fence; Burnell had wrist control. and finally got to spend some time on top. Collard would make it back up, with just about three minutes left in the frame. He fired a spinning back fist that fell well wide, but after all the time that had passed, Burnell was eliminated from the post-season, ensuring that no matter the outcome of the fight, both Collard and Michael Dufort were safe.

Burnell, meanwhile, landed another takedown, two minutes still on the clock in round two. Not a popular approach from the fans, who were in the house to see another Clay Collard banger. Instead, it was Burnell scaling the back with Collard on his feet; Burnell was a bit high up, and Collard tried to shake him off over the top. Eventually, Collard got his opponent off his back, and they ended the frame continuing to grapple along the fence, Burnell pursuing a single-leg takedown.

The opening two minutes of round three of the PFL 5 main event were spent mostly in the stand-up world, Collard and Burnell trading. Again, Collard was a step ahead, though both men had slowed ever so slightly. Burnell then blasted into a double-leg takedown two minutes in, landing it well away from the cage. Burnell got into half-guard, threading his leg around Collard’s. With the playoff bracket set, it was all about bragging rights, and the pair would ultimately go the distance, with the judges seeing it in favor of Burnell.

Official Result: Mads Burnell def. Clay Collard by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)