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Meet the ten PFL lightweights going head-to-head in the first round of the $1M season from ex-UFC champion to pro boxer

FOR ten Professional Fighters League lightweights, just four fights separate them from taking home the $1 million cash prize.

The PFL is MMA’s only league format to span a regular season and playoffs.

Clay Collard will face Jeremy Stephens

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Clay Collard will face Jeremy Stephens

Fighters in eight different weight classes compete in the two-fight regular season as they battle for a place in the playoffs.

That consists of a two-round quarter-finals and a three-round semi-finals on a night where the winner advances to the championship finals.

Up for grabs is life changing $1 million check and championship belt included.

The lightweights are in action tomorrow night in Dallas, Texas, and here’s SunSport showing you who’s set to win it.

Intoxication Manfio

The 30-year-old Brazilian is the reigning and reigning champion, going 4-0 to take home the gold and cash prize last year.

He has a 15-3 record and beat ex-UFC champion Anthony Pettis and pro boxer Clay Collard last season.

Manfio almost retired before last season to focus on coaching and his job as an office cleaner.

Luckily, he tried again and walked away a million dollars richer. Manfio defends his crown against Don Madge.

Rausch Manfio won the 2021 PFL lightweight season

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Rausch Manfio won the 2021 PFL lightweight seasonPhoto credit: Professional Fighters League
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Collard started boxing to fix his car - now it has given him

Don Madge

South Africa’s Madge, 31, is 10-3 and made his PFL debut against Nathan Williams last year.

He has also played in the UFC, winning both fights with one on Khabib Nurmagomedov’s undercard.

Visa issues and opposition cancellations saw Madge leave the UFC to sign for the PFL – where he will fight champion Manfio in his first full season.

He said: “I wanted to get the champion out of the way first and compete with the guys who’ve already been through it and already achieved what I’m trying to achieve.”

Raush Manfio will face South African Don Madge

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Raush Manfio will face South African Don MadgePhoto credit: Professional Fighters League

Jeremy Stephens

Stephens, 35, comes into the season as one of the most experienced talents in the squad, with a record of 28-19-1.

In his UFC career he fought against the likes of Max Holloway, Jose Aldo and Frankie Edgar.

But perhaps he’s most remembered after Conor McGregor said, “Who the hell is this guy?” during a press conference with Stephens.

The American veteran makes his PFL debut against professional boxer Collard.

Former UFC star Jeremy Stephens

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Former UFC star Jeremy StephensPhoto credit: Professional Fighters League

clay cabbage

Collard was another veteran in MMA but rose to fame during the coronavirus pandemic when bouts took place behind closed doors at Bob Arum’s top-rank stable.

During this time he only went 3:1 started boxing in 2017 to pay for his car repairs.

Collard, 29, who has had four UFC fights, signed with the PFL in 2020 and stunned Pettis in the opening round last year.

He was KO’d by eventual winner Manfio and returns to the league by taking on fellow power-puncher Stephens.

Professional boxer and PFL contender Clay Collard

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Professional boxer and PFL contender Clay CollardPhoto credit: Professional Fighters League

Nathan Schulte

The 30-year-old Brazilian is a two-time PFL champion after back-to-back wins in 2018 and 2019.

Schulte was only paid $400 when he debuted in 2011 — but he now has $2 million in prize checks to his name.

The former champion lost to Marcin Held last season.

But he’s hoping to bounce back in his rematch against Canadian Olivier Aubin-Mercier.

Two-time PFL champion Natan Schulte

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Two-time PFL champion Natan SchultePhoto credit: Professional Fighters League

Olivier Aubin Mercier

Born in Montreal, Quebec, Aubin-Mercier, 33, is nicknamed “The Canadian Gangster.”

He was making a name for himself in the UFC, but after three straight losses, the lightweight was looking elsewhere.

Aubin-Mercier signed with PFL and won his two opening bouts for promotion.

But this year he’s going into the regular season, but he has to beat two-time champion Schulte in the opener.

Canadian fighter Olivier Aubin-Mercier

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Canadian fighter Olivier Aubin-MercierPhoto credit: Professional Fighters League

Anthony Petti

The former UFC lightweight champion, 35, signed an exclusive deal with PFL last year but was stunned in Collard’s opening stretch.

A second loss to Manfio meant Pettis’ departure from the season was confirmed.

But he’s back for more, returning on May 6, two weeks into the lightweight league.

Pettis will take on Irishman Myles Price, who is trying to recover from last year’s excitement.

Anthony Pettis returns for his second PFL season

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Anthony Pettis returns for his second PFL seasonPhoto credit: @showtimepettis

Myles price

Price, 33, made his name fighting in Europe in BAMMA and Bellator, even beating Conor McGregor’s training partner Peter Queally in 2019.

But he’s ready to crack America by fighting ex-UFC star Pettis, who claims to be the perfect opponent.

Price told SunSport, “I definitely feel that if he wants to go out and look good, it’s not the ideal style for Pettis – which you really can’t allow.”

He added, “I’m going to go in there and be the best version of myself and that’s important.”

Irishman Myles Price will face Anthony Pettis

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Irishman Myles Price will face Anthony PettisPhoto credit: @mylespricemma

Stevie Ray

Ray, 32, has flown the flag of Scotland for many years in the UFC, most recently beating Michael Johnson in 2019.

He then announced his retirement, but after a nearly three-year hiatus, Ray is back and ready to make it big.

The Briton signed a multi-fight deal with PFL and will debut in the 2022 season with his first fight against Alex Martinez over the weekend.

Ray overcame a knee injury during the coronavirus pandemic by becoming a yoga teacher.

Stevie Ray returns after three years

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Stevie Ray returns after three yearsPhoto credit: Professional Fighters League

Alex Martinez

The 27-year-old Paraguayan was beaten twice in the PFL last year after winning 7-0 in his career.

Martinez has fought in South Africa, Abu Dhabi and Canada before signing with PFL in America.

With only ten fights, he is perhaps the most inexperienced of the season.

But Martinez is battling the returning Ray, who is coming out of retirement after almost three years.

Alex Martinez fights Scotland's Stevie Ray

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Alex Martinez fights Scotland’s Stevie RayPhoto credit: Professional Fighters League

https://www.thesun.co.uk/sport/mma/18312915/pfl-lightweights-season-ufc-pro-boxer/ Meet the ten PFL lightweights going head-to-head in the first round of the $1M season from ex-UFC champion to pro boxer

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