Three division boxing world champion Claressa Shields is expected to make her mixed martial arts debut in 2021, and she’s putting in the hours in in the gym in preparation.
Shields signed a contract with the PFL last month, according to which the two time Olympic gold medalist will look to enter the 2022 lightweight tournament after two or three one-off fights.
Dana White’s Offer
The undefeated boxing champion was also in talks with the UFC over her transition into MMA, but speaking with MMA Fighting, Shields revealed that UFC president Dana White offered her an ‘unfair’ one fight deal against two division champion, Amanda Nunes.
“It was just the conversation,” Shields said. “It wasn’t like ‘Hey, come and train a few months and then fight against the best girl that we have at your weight. I think that’s unfair to me and it’s not giving me enough time to learn. If you’re talking about letting me train for two years and then I’ll fight against the best girl you have. All right, cool. But the conversation with Dana was almost like a one fight deal a little bit.”
Move To The PFL
The PFL’s offer was more reasonable for Shields, as it allows her the liberty to train and have a few tune up fights, before she competes with the best the promotion has to offer.
“With the PFL, it was ‘Let’s train, let’s start you at this level and work your way up’ and then I’ll have a chance to fight in the PFL tournament in 2022,” Shields shared. “And also, I’ll still be able to box, 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 getting rushed. And it’s a lucrative deal and a lucrative conversation where it was a three year deal. It’s not like ‘Hey come over here fight two times and go back to boxing.’ I’m a conqueror and I’m a winner so I want to put myself in a position to always win.”
Training Hard For Her Debut
Now that the negotiation process is over, Shields can finally focus on preparing for the toughest challenges of her career. The 25 year old is training at Jackson Wink MMA with the likes of former UFC champions Jon Jones and Holly Holm.
“When I signed a contract for the PFL, all these interviews started coming and I found myself having anxiety,” Shields said. “Because yes I’m signed to the PFL. Now I gotta start training. I’m a person that believes in the five Ps, proper preparation prevents poor performance. Man, I was just like ‘I gotta get prepared.’
“[Jones] always said if I ever came to MMA he would love for me to train with his coaches. But that was almost two years ago.”
Shields also shared when she expects to debut next year.
“We already have a deadline for that,” Shields said. “That’s why I’m already working now and learning right now. I’m looking forward to fighting in May, June next year, my MMA pro debut.”
Do you think Claressa Shields is going to succeed in MMA?