Three-division boxing titleholder and two-time Olympic gold medalist Claressa Shields is making a long-rumored move to MMA, signing a deal with the Professional Fighters League (PFL), according to MMA Junkie.
The 25-year-old Shields is 10-0 (2 KO) in pro boxing after winning Olympic gold at London 2012 and Rio 2016, and has only one recorded amateur loss, so she’s been nearly unbeatable in boxing throughout her career, amateur and pro.
There had been talk of Shields making a move to MMA previously. In Oct. 2019, Shields talked about becoming a two-sport athlete, feeling she could make more money in MMA. Two months later, she attended UFC 245 and discussed doing a dual sport fight series with UFC champ Amanda Nunes. And in January of this year, prior to her most recent boxing outing, she said she planned to fight in MMA by the end of 2020.
That last boxing match came on Jan. 10, to be exact, where she dominated Ivana Habazin to win belts at 154 pounds, having previously won some at 168 and going undisputed at 160, in that order.
But there really aren’t many attractive fights for her left between 154 and 168 — Savannah Marshall, the British fighter who beat Shields in the amateurs, is easily the biggest — and going down to 147 just doesn’t seem reasonable, in all reality. The move to MMA is risky, but could pay off.
MMA Junkie’s sources say that “Shields will take one-off fights at lightweight to begin her MMA career with PFL.” Lightweight in MMA is 155 pounds.
As far as boxing game goes, she’ll be able to out-class anyone she fights. And that may be enough if the right opponents are chosen. But if she gets in there with someone who can get her on the ground, that is likely to be a big problem, obviously. Shields is going for something here, though, assuming she actually makes the move.
Boxing-wise, Shields was expected to face IBF titleholder Marie-Eve Dicaire in a unification bout, but the fight hasn’t come through.