Claresa Shields has already ruled boxing with two Olympic gold medals and professional titles in three weight classes.
Her next world to overcome is mixed martial arts.
Shields has signed with the Professional Fighters League in pursuit of becoming the first woman to win simultaneous titles in both MMA and boxing, she told the Associated Press on Monday. He will make his debut next year, and he hopes to hold two or three MMA matches, including two boxing matches in 2021, before attempting to win the PFL title in 2022.
“I’m not trying to do this for a show,” Shields told the AP. “I take it really seriously. I don’t think my hands are better than everyone else I win. I’m going to strengthen things that are weak.”
Shields realizes she is facing a steep learning curve as she prepares to fight a 155-pound lighter in the PFL. She’s still a newcomer to jiu-jitsu, wrestling and kickboxing: “I’ve never kicked anyone in my life, not even in a street fight!” She said.
But Shields is a singular athlete with a compatible work ethic, and she has the ability to fight other types of hand-to-hand combat with proper training.
“I’m not going out here knowing that I’m going to beat these girls because I can outbox them,” Shields said. “I’m going to stay away from takedowns. Take some kicks, do some kicks, take some knees. I have to get used to catching, because in boxing, when a girl catches me, I want to slam close to her.”
“I really think it’s against any other woman. Whatever it is, she won’t be able to beat me.”
Many fighters have tried the action that Shields is doing in both directions. Champion boxer Holly Holm changed sports and Ronda Rousey won the UFC belt, but Conor McGregor parlayed her UFC success into a lucrative boxing match with Floyd Mayweather.
Shields’ interest in trying MMA has been rumored for many years, and UFC champions Amanda Nunes and Chris “Cyborg” Justino have expressed interest in taking on the boxing ring. Now that the talks are real, Shields is eager to do the work necessary to make his boldest dreams come true.
“I want to be the best in everything,” he said. “I hate losing. I haven’t lost a fight since I was 17. I’m not here for a good time. I’m here to make my presence known to everybody in the cage. You don’t go there and fight the boxer. You are going up against some of the greatest female combat athletes that ever lived.”
The Shields family responded with varying degrees of disbelief when told of her decision on Thanksgiving. Her mother didn’t believe it, and her sister angrily warned Shields against trying to fight men (which wasn’t happening) – but both her father and boyfriend were excited about her.
Shields, from Flint, Michigan, does not live in a training regimen or a home MMA gym, but “he wants to train with some of the best MMA fighters and coaches to speed up my process.”
He has spoken with former UFC light heavyweight champion John Jones about his training in Albuquerque and how he will talk to other MMA stars about training dates. Shields said she relies on coaches to tell her when she’s ready to step into the cage.
Shields intends to work with a series of one-off PFL matches in 2021 at the competition level. The campaign usually hosts the annual tournament with a million 1 million prize, and Shields hopes to be in the 2022 field.
Shields’ last boxing match was in January, but she is not abandoning the sport: she plans to announce a soon-to-be new date for her deferred Junior Middleweight World title with Marie-Eve Dೈcire, in which she tries to consolidate four 154-pound championship belts.
Shields is already the undisputed middleweight champion, and she wants to be the first female boxer to make that distinction in the two weight classes. Shields is 10-0 as a pro boxer, and she doesn’t worry about the amount of time she spends for MMA that interferes with her boxing career.
“I can box in my sleep,” she said with a laugh. Boxing is for me. I will never forget how to box. Even though I’m 80, it’s best for a girl not to try me, because she’s still a whole bunch of problems. “Coaching Smart is something I’ve tried to do throughout my entire MMA career.”
Shields insists her primary motivation is to win belts in both sports, but she acknowledges the boxing industry’s inability to make her a star at the level of her male counterparts or MMA’s top female athletes.
“I’m not upset about boxing, but boxing has always been a sexist sport,” Shields said. “Until they start treating women fairly, women’s boxing will never get to where we want to go. Even men’s boxing has stopped right now. That’s why they are not fair, and the boxing gods look at it.”

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