Boxing Powerhouse Claressa Shields Signs with the PFL

Clarissa Shields UFC 245
Claressa Shields Credit: Rodney James Edgar/Cageside Press

Female boxing superstar Claressa Shields will be making the move to MMA in 2021 as she has reportedly signed a deal to fight for the PFL.

Per MMAJunkie, one of the best female boxers in the world today will be making the transition to mixed martial arts as undefeated Claressa “T-Rex” Shields has signed a deal with the PFL.  Per the report, Shields will compete at the lightweight limit of 155 pounds but will not be a part of the season.  Shields plans to compete in both MMA and boxing in 2021.

Claressa Shields rose to prominence following back-to-back gold medals at the 2012 and 2016 Olympics for Team USA.  After accumulating a 77-1 amateur record, Shields became a professional and has since put together a perfect 10-0 record that has seen her win all four major titles in the same weight class, a distinction that has been accomplished by only 8 other boxers (male or female) in history.  Shields has flirted with the world of MMA in recent years, with her name being thrown in consideration for crossover bouts with female MMA fighters in boxing and her appearance at UFC 251 where she met with the media.

Per the report, Shields will not be part of the lightweight season in 2021 and instead will compete in special one-off fights throughout the year.  The situation is identical to what defending lightweight champion Kayla Harrison did in 2018 prior to the inclusion of a lightweight season in 2019.  Presumably, Shields not competing in the expected 2021 lightweight tournament is due to her desire to continue taking boxing fights when necessary and not be tied to the season schedule that could cause conflict.  Shields currently competes in boxing under the Showtime Boxing banner.

Shields will not be in completely uncharted territory when she competes in both sports next year.  Seven-division world champion Amanda Serrano competed in both boxing and MMA in 2018 where she made her mixed martial arts debut in Combate Americas and later returned to boxing where she won a sixth division world title later that year.

There is no word yet of when exactly Shields will make her MMA debut.  The PFL will return for their third season in the spring of 2021.