The Professional Fighters League has made a significant addition to its roster.
The promotion hired boxing champion and two-time Olympic gold medalist Claressa Shields to compete in the lightweight division. MMAjunkie.com was the first to report the news. Shields will not be competing in the 2021 PFL Season format; instead, she will take on one-off fights at various events throughout the year. The arrangement is similar to how Olympic judo gold medalist Kayla Harrison started her tenure in the PFL in 2018 before winning the organization’s 155-pound championship in 2019.
In the past, Shields has publicly considered a transition to MMA, and she has enjoyed a training relationship with current Bellator featherweight queen Cristiane Justino.
Shields then attended UFC 245 in December 2019 to watch Amanda Nunes defend her bantamweight title with a unanimous decision victory over Randamie’s Germained. UFC President Dana White has confirmed he’s engaged in talks with Shields and his team regarding a fight with Nunes in MMA or boxing. These discussions have apparently never been too serious, as Shields will now make his MMA debut under the PFL banner.
Shields is currently 10-0 as a professional boxer after compiling a 77-1 rating as an amateur. She is one of the few fighters to hold all four major titles – WBA, WBC, IBF and WBO – in boxing. Shields last competed in January, taking a unanimous verdict on Ivana Habazin after weighing 153.4 pounds for the fight.
Shields’ signing follows another high profile addition from the PFL, which signed former UFC heavyweight champion Fabricio Werdum earlier this month.
The PFL will start its 2021 season in April. The organization has canceled the 2020 campaign due to concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic.