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Kayla Harrison urges people to stop calling for fight with Claressa Shields: “That’s stupid”

PFL have a pair of two-time Olympic gold medalists on board, but Kayla Harrison isn’t interested in fighting Claressa Shields just yet.

PFL and Elsa/Getty Images
Scott Christ is the managing editor of Bad Left Hook and has been covering boxing for SB Nation since 2006.

Claressa Shields recently made her debut in mixed martial arts (MMA) with PFL, and is already set to return to the cage on Aug. 27.

Shields didn’t have a flawless debut in the new sport by any means, but did rally to beat Brittney Elkin. Fellow PFL fighter Kayla Harrison said Shields did a “good job,” but is urging people to stop calling for the two of them to fight any time soon:

“We all knew that she was going to struggle in some aspects of the game, which she did. But she’s a winner and she found a way to win, which is what winners do. So I applaud her for that. I think PFL’s job is a little bit tougher from this point on. Like, where do you go from here? And I think that hopefully now this whole Kayla fighting Claressa thing can be put to bed because it’s just like, it doesn’t make any sense. It would be like you guys saying, ‘Oh, Kayla should fight Amanda (Nunes) after I had my first fight.’ Like, it doesn’t make any sense. No, that’s stupid. Stop.”

Harrison (9-0 in MMA) is a former two-time Olympic gold medalist in judo, and is set to face Cindy Dandois this Friday at another PFL event. Shields, of course, is a two-time Olympic gold medalist in boxing, and you can see the obvious reasons people would be intrigued by the matchup.

But Harrison is right that Shields is way off of being ready to face her in MMA, and it’s not meant as any disrespect to Shields. Claressa knows very well what it takes to be great at a sport on a pro level, and and knows the amount of work it will take to get to where she’s legitimately ready to fight Harrison.

As for Harrison’s comment that “PFL’s job is a little bit tougher from this point on,” she’s also right about that, and keeping them apart while not losing whatever buzz they both have isn’t going to be easy. In reality, neither Harrison nor Shields have anyone particularly interesting to fight right now — women’s MMA just isn’t that deep at their weight. We’ve also talked at length about Shields, just 26, pretty much running out of anything to do in boxing, too, other than a fight with Savannah Marshall that doesn’t seem close to becoming a reality.

Considering all that, Harrison-Shields might get pushed by PFL sooner than Shields is really ready, because there just might not be anything any better to do with either of them. But absolutely it should not happen right now, and it won’t. Sometime in 2022, though, it might be on the table.

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