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Claressa Shields set for February 24th MMA return

Claressa Shields has not fought in MMA since October 2021

Professional Fighters League Media Event - Arrivals Photo by Kate Green/Getty Images
Patrick Stumberg is a freelance writer for SB Nation, first joining the network in 2011 before linking up with Bad Left Hook in 2015.

Despite beefing with a range of boxers from Alycia Baumgardner to Rolando Romero, Claressa Shields’ next fight will be in a cage. Professional Fighters League has announced its first show since acquiring Bellator MMA last year, which features a number of champion-versus-champion matchups and the return of “T. Rex” on February 24th.

Shields (14-0, 2 KO boxing, 1-1 MMA) hasn’t laced up the four-ounce gloves since dropping a split decision to Abigail Montes in October 2021, instead dispatching Ema Kozin, Savannah Marshall, and Maricela Cornejo in the ring. She’s up against Kelsey DeSantis (no relation), who’s 1-1 since losing her 2013 pro debut and returning to action last year. Considering the laughable striking defense DeSantis showed last time, Shields may actually find her first (T)KO finish in more than six years.

Shields will never be any kind of MMA champion with monsters like Kayla Harrison, Larissa Pacheco, and now Cris Cyborg waiting for her, but it’s not like there’s much left to do in the ring. Unless she wants to come back down to 154 and feast on the gaggle of lightweights that congregated there, it’s basically a Marshall rematch or bust. I don’t blame her for trying to test herself in another discipline. It takes a lot of willpower to go from being the best at something to a novice at something new.

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