Olympic gold medalist boxer Claressa Shields signs multi-year deal to fight in MMA, sources say

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Claressa Shields, arguably the world’s No.1 pound-for-pound boxer, has signed an exclusive multi-year contract with the PFL that will see her transition to professional mixed martial arts, sources confirmed to ESPN.
Two-time Olympic boxing gold medalist Shields, 25, will not compete in the traditional PFL ‘season format’ in 2021 but intends to aim for a berth for the season in 2022, the sources confirmed. . She will continue to box in 2021 and compete in MMA.

MMA Junkie was the first to report the signing.

A native of Flint, Michigan, Shields was a gold medalist boxer for the United States at the 2012 and 2016 Olympics. She teased the idea of ​​a transition to MMA for over a year and, at a given time, challenged UFC two-weight champion Amanda Nunes to a two-fight contest consisting of a boxing match, an MMA match.

Shields also told ESPN earlier this year that she attended a few jiu-jitsu classes and started taking MMA training in preparation for a possible MMA transition.

“I’m not going in there blind. I’m not, ”Shields said. “I can kick a little bit and I learned jiu-jitsu and submissive moves and stuff like that, but I haven’t done it seriously enough to do this in my sleep.” I can fight my sleep. I can’t do that stuff. I have to really think about the moves that I learned, the things that I learned and the kicking techniques where in boxing I know how to let go of my hands and form and power and everything.

“I want MMA to be the same. ”

The PFL has postponed its entire 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but plans to resume its 2021 season in April in Las Vegas. The promotion offers a lightweight 155-pound division for women, and it’s led by 2019 winner Kayla Harrison. Harrison also won Olympic gold in 2012 and 2016 for the United States in judo. Harrison is 8-0 in MMA.

Information from Brett Okamoto and Mike Rothstein of ESPN contributed to this report.

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