Claressa Shields to make her 2021 debut in MMA
Undisputed middleweight champion Claressa Shields, arguably the number 1 pound-for-pound female boxer, is now breaking into the world of MMA.
Shields signed a three-year contract with MMA promotion PFL (Professional Fighters League) in late 2020. Despite early concerns that she was jumping ship to MMA as a money grab, she has made it clear that it is not about the money and that she will not be abandoning boxing either.
“I wanted to test myself,” Shields told ESPN. “I want to see if I can be a world champion in boxing and a world champion in MMA. That’s something I want to test myself on. I’m not saying boxing is easy, but I’ve been on top of the world for almost 14 years now.”
Shields is looking to dominate in both fields, and believe that her past experience in boxing will help her to do so.
“Since turning pro, it has been my goal to be the GWOAT (greatest woman of all time) and to be a two-sport star like Bo Jackson and Deion Sanders,” Shields said.
Shields spoke to MMA Fighting about her decision to join with a smaller promotion as opposed to joining the likes of UFC even though she has met and talked to Dana White previously.
“The conversation with Dana [White] was almost like a one-fight deal kind of a little bit. With the PFL, it was more like ‘let’s train, let’s start you off at this level, and as you work your way up, the competition will get harder’ and then I would have a chance to fight in the PFL season in 2022,” said Shields. “Also, too, I would be able to box also, too. So my boxing career isn’t just over because I’m doing MMA. I actually have a boxing match in February. It just hasn’t been announced yet. I still get to box, and I’m not being rushed.”
Shields is training her grappling skills under Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt Roberto Alencar, a 4-time IBJJF no-gi World Champion who is best known in the MMA world for being Holly Holm’s BJJ trainer.