Claressa Shields has designs on being a two-combat sport superstar.
Shields, who has already won multiple world championships and two gold medals as a boxer, recently signed a contract to make her professional MMA debut with Professional Fighters League in 2021. Shields won’t be part of the PFL season next year — she will compete in one-off fights — but is targeting 2022 for her shot at a 155-pound championship run in the promotion’s season format.
As Shields begins her MMA journey, she will continue her career in the Sweet Science, PFL CEO Peter Murray and her management revealed in a release on Tuesday.
“I want to thank Professional Fighters League and Peter Murray for believing in me and giving me this amazing opportunity. What drew me to the PFL is that it is definitely a fighter-first organization, and I can’t wait to be a part of that. Since turning pro it has been my goal to be the GWOAT and to be a two-sport star like Bo Jackson and Deion Sanders,” Shields said.
“I want to go where no man or woman has gone and hold championships in both boxing and MMA at the same time. The one-two punch of PFL in MMA and Salita Promotions in boxing will allow me to continue to show that there are no limits to what a woman can do. I can’t wait to get to work.”
The 25-year-old Shields told ESPN that she has attended “a few” jiu-jitsu classes and trained with U.S. Olympic wrestler Adeline Gray in preparation for her transition to the cage.
"I can say, it's not as bad as I thought it would be," Shields said. "I thought I would absolutely hate it. I thought as soon as she grabbed my leg I would get frustrated and would try to bite her or something, but that hasn't happened.”
Shields could eventually be paired with PFL’s biggest star, two-time Olympic judo gold medalist and 2019 lightweight champion Kayla Harrison. Shields is friends with Harrison but told ESPN she wouldn’t be against squaring off against the undefeated judoka in the future.
"I was telling MMA fans, I'm not just a talker," Shields said. "I know that's what they are used to, all these clout chasers out there. I'm like, the real deal. Anything I say I can do, I put my best foot forward and I do it. I haven't lost a fight since I was 17 years old, and I'm 25. I had 77 wins as an amateur, one loss. I'm 10-0 as a pro.
"I'm not coming to MMA to lose. The next time they see me in the cage, I'm gonna have muscles coming out my damn neck training so hard to win.”
« Previous Boxing Champion, Two-Time Olympic Gold Medalist Claressa Shields Signs with PFL Next Reports: Mike Tyson vs. Roy Jones Jr. Exceeds 1 Million Pay-Per-View Buys »