Ahead of her MMA debut against Brittney Elkin at PFL 4 June 10th, Claressa Shields says she wants to become the first athlete in history to hold MMA and boxing world titles simultaneously.
The much-awaited lightweight matchup won’t be a part of the PFL’s regular season, however. Shields, who is a two-time Olympic gold medalist and the undisputed light middleweight champion, said that she wants to pursue a career in boxing and MMA at the same time.
Two Sport World Champion
Speaking to The Mac Life, Shields said that she wants to test herself in MMA, as she feels she has already achieved everything in the world of boxing.
“I was 25 when I signed the contract for the PFL and I’ve accomplished everything in boxing,” Shields said. “I call myself the GWOAT, ‘the greatest women of all time’, and I feel like I’ve done everything in boxing to prove that — but being the GWOAT, it didn’t come with the million dollar cheques, I didn’t come with the endorsement deals, the sponsorships, it didn’t really come with the respect from the networks.
“What else is there to do for me in boxing? I’m a twelve-time world champ, two time undisputed, three time division champ but what else can I do to get to the million dollar cheque in boxing? What other female fighter can say that she can possibly become an MMA world champ and be a boxing champ at the same time? I don’t think there’s any other woman that can say that, or any male who’s willing to do that. For me, it’s like you get to be that one person in a lifetime again.
“It was a real conversation with myself. Can you do the MMA training? Are you willing to learn the different arts, are you willing to humble yourself and start from the bottom and work your way up? I always thought it would be a James Toney kind of thing, when I’m done, when I’m retired — but why waste the body, why waste time?”
Conor McGregor’s Tips
Shields has been training with superstars Holly Holm and Jon Jones at JacksonWink MMA in Albuquerque, but Irish megastar Conor McGregor has also shared tips with her through social media, something ‘T-Rex’ really appreciates.
“It feels great,” Shields said. “I’m super excited that he’s excited about me fighting. I’m happy that everybody’s respecting my work ethic but it’s just great to have another great reach out to you, who’s been great in the sport of MMA: Jonny Bones, Holly Holm, Nate Diaz, Conor McGregor, to have them reach out and let me know that they’re going to be watching and also to give me some tips.
“McGregor has sent me tips. ‘Look, you’ve got to work on this, you’ve got to bounce on one foot… get used to bouncing, they’re gonna grab your leg, get used to bouncing on that single leg so you can pull your leg out.’”
Katie Taylor Comparisons
As of now, Shields is second only to Katie Taylor in the women’s boxing pound-for-pound ranking. The undefeated Irish boxer fights three weight classes below the undefeated American phenom, which means it’s unlikely they will compete against each other to settle the GOAT debate once and for all.
Shields however, believes that she has achieved more than Taylor, who she does have a lot of respect for.
“People always compare me and Katie Taylor, right?” Shields explained. “And people think that I’m so mad when [the pound-for-pound list] switches. Some months it’s Katie, some months it’s me. People think I’m mad that some months it’s Katie. I tell everybody, bro, it’s an opinion. If you like fighters who get into wars and come out on top, you will go with Katie. If you like fighters who are super-dominant and own a fight and barely get touched, you like me. If you like power punchers, you like me. If you like people who got fast hands and quick feet, you like Katie Taylor.
“It’s not a big deal. We’re both skilled. I have a whole bunch of respect for her and I feel like sometimes people paint it out like I’m hating on her. How? Why would I hate on someone I have more accomplishments than but who I also respect as a fighter? I think one of the biggest fights in history would be me versus Katie Taylor but we’re nowhere near in weight. I told her maybe we can fight at 147 and Katie’s like, ‘I can’t make 47!’.
“It’s a fight that will never happen but whenever she fights I tune in, whenever she wins I DM her and say great fight. I’m not a hater.”
Do you think Claressa Shields will go on to become an MMA champion?