‘I would like to do MMA again’ – Boxing champ ‘in talks’ with PFL

Undefeated boxing champion Claressa Shields has no regrets about trying out MMA, may return to PFL.

By: Kristen King | 4 months ago
‘I would like to do MMA again’ – Boxing champ ‘in talks’ with PFL
Claressa Shields in 2016 | IMAGO/ZUMA Wire

One of the primary reasons Claressa Shields signed with the Professional Fighters League (PFL) in 2020 was to test herself. The two-time Olympic gold medalist and three-division champion was no stranger to etching her name in history, and she wanted to do so again in another sport. 

“I want to see if I can be a world champion in boxing and a world champion in MMA,” said Shields to ESPN after signing with PFL. “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.”

The Michigan native sought out help from one of the premiere gyms in mixed martial arts, traveling to New Mexico to train at JacksonWink MMA alongside Jon Jones and Holly Holm. Despite having only a few months of training to her name, Shields was successful in her promotional debut in 2021 at PFL 4, where she finished Brittney Elkin via third-round TKO. She returned to the SmartCage at PFL 10, where she lost to Abigail Montes via split decision. 

Claressa Shields: No regrets pursuing MMA

After suffering her first loss, Claressa Shields said she was ‘not discouraged at all’ and promised to ‘be on a different level’ when she returned for her next PFL fight. During a recent appearance on The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani, the 28-year-old reflected on whether or not she regretted her decision to test herself in MMA. 

“I don’t regret doing MMA,” said Shields. “I’m 1-1, I lost a fight, a split decision that could have went either way against an opponent who had been doing MMA her whole life. So for the fact that I was only doing MMA only a year, trying to learn the ground game and trying to learn some wrestling and add it to my boxing, and then to lose a split — like, I didn’t get knocked out, I didn’t get armbarred, I didn’t get submitted. I just lost a split decision. 

“I don’t regret it at all,” continued Shields. “It actually made me a better fighter. It showed me what I already knew—I can do whatever I put my mind to. I beat a girl who was a brown belt and had been doing MMA for 13 years. I went in there and I was able to beat her, so I just know that I’m dangerous whether it’s in a boxing ring or it’s in a cage.”

Potential PFL return in the works?

Since her loss to Montes, the ‘GWOAT’ has returned to the boxing ring, where she has earned two consecutive wins against Ema Kozin and Savannah Marshall. For her next fight, Shields was originally scheduled to defend her titles against Hanna Gabriels, but the latter was removed after testing positive for a banned substance. Now, Shields fights Maricela Cornejo in front of hometown crowd at the Little Caesars Arena in Detroit this Saturday. 

As far as what comes next, Shields is staying focused on her next test in boxing. However, she and her team are in contact with the PFL, so a potential return to the SmartCage is still an option. 

“I would like to do MMA again,” said Shields. “We are in talks with PFL now to try to see what the plan is, but I would like to be given the right amount of time to train and to learn the craft of MMA, to have me a solid team behind me, because I’ve just been winging it.

“I went to JacksonWink and I trained with them, and they were a great team. I did a lot of jiu-jitsu training, a lot of wrestling. But it just was like, you get a 30-minute session, a 45-minute session, you know? You don’t really get the full [session]. Like, I go to the gym and I don’t train less than three hours for boxing, and I’ve been doing boxing for 17 years.

“So I feel like in MMA, I want to have that same kind of routine in order for me to just learn those arts, because I’m far behind the other girls, but my boxing gives me a little lift,” continued Shields. “But if I can’t be on my feet, then we have to figure out something else. So I just want to learn those arts to where it can give me a better chance at winning. I’m not afraid to do MMA. I’ve already done it. I just want to—I like to win. I like to win fights.”

When is Claressa Shields vs. Maricela Cornejo?

Claressa Shields vs. Maricela Cornejo goes down on Sat., June 3, at the Little Caesars Arena in Detroit, Michigan. The event airs live on DAZN and starts at 9:00 PM ET/6:00 PM PT.

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About the author
Kristen King
Kristen King

Kristen King is a writer for Bloody Elbow. She has covered combat sports since 2016, getting her start with outlets such as FanSided, MyMMANews and MMA-Prospects. She joined the BE team in 2020, covering a mix of news, events and injuries. In her time with BE, Kristen has created ‘Fright of the Night,’ a series that highlights some of the worst injuries in the sport.

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