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Claressa Shields: If MMA debut is a war, I’m ready for it

Claressa Shields says she’s fully prepared for her MMA debut on June 10.

Claressa Shields v Ivana Habazin - Press Conference Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images
Scott Christ is the managing editor of Bad Left Hook and has been covering boxing for SB Nation since 2006.

Three-division boxing champion Claressa Shields is set to make her MMA debut on Thursday, June 10, when she faces Brittney Elkin in a PFL fight from Atlantic City, which will air on ESPN+ and ESPN2.

Shields (11-0, 2 KO in boxing) should be the favorite here, at least on paper. While it’s Claressa’s MMA debut and MMA is a totally different sport from boxing and vice versa, PFL made a splash when they signed Shields, and you’d expect them to want that relationship to go well beyond hyping one fight.

Elkin is an MMA veteran with a 3-6 record, having turned pro in 2014. She hasn’t fought since 2019, and has lost three straight fights, her last W coming in 2016. On paper, she’s being served up as “the opponent,” but we’ve seen companies in combat sports miscalculate these things, too. Though it was a more dangerous matchup than this one seems to be, BKFC were certainly not looking for Paige VanZant to lose to Britain Hart, but it happened.

“Everybody wants the knockout, everyone wants the stoppages, but for me, I just really want the experience,” Shields told TMZ. “I want to get in there and get out as quick as possible, I’m fine with that. But if I have to go 15 minutes and have an all-out war with Brittney Elkin, I’m fine with that.”

Shields also said that she hadn’t planned to do any of her customary trash-talking for this fight — feeling that with it being her first MMA fight, she doesn’t have the right — but that Elkin has pressed her buttons a bit.

“I saw an interview where Brittney Elkin said she wants to make me a 15-second highlight reel. Like she wants to go in there and knock me out in 15 seconds. And, I was just thinking to myself, ‘Bitch in your dreams. In your wildest dreams.’”

Bad Left Hook will have live coverage of Shields’ PFL debut on Thursday, June 10, because for one thing it’s a Thursday night, what else is going on? And for another thing it’s interesting to me, to see how Shields does in a different sport. She’s a very good athlete and despite her public persona as a shit-talking egomaniac, she’s an excellent student of boxing, I don’t see why she couldn’t be with MMA if she’s serious and takes her time. And for another thing I want to try and fire even the tiniest missile of defiance back for all those times the MMA sites cover boxing at random.

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