Boxing champ and two-time Olympic gold medalist Claressa Shields returned to the cage at Wednesday’s PFL 2021 World Championship, in her sophomore outing in MMA.
Shields was paired up with Mexico’s Abigail Montes, in one of just four non-title fights featured at the event — and the only non-title fight on the main card.
Early on, Montes stayed on the outside, circling, while Shields held center, working her 1-2. Montes was out of range early on, and fired a leg kick before Shields pressed forward. The pair would clinch, with Shields using an underhook to put Montes against the fence. Montes then got an underhook of her own, clasping her hands for a body lock, but she couldn’t get Shields down. They’d spend the remainder of the round in this position, which might have been a moral victory, but on the scorecards, it was Montes in control.
Shields charged forward to open round two, firing off a few punches before Montes tied her up again. Shields, again, showed some impressive takedown defense. This time, she was able to turn her opponent and create space, then charge in firing a combination. Shields was taking some big swings, but that opened her up to Montes shooting a takedown out in the open. She landed it; Shields quickly shrimped back to the fence. Montes dropped ground n’ pound, and with just under 30 seconds in the round, Shields powered up.
Round three had Shields again firing some big punches, but loading up, she was opening herself up to takedown attempts. Montes nearly scored a takedown, then drove Shields up against the cage as she had in the first two frames. This time, Shields got underhooks in, moved Montes to center and briefly landed a takedown of her own. Back in the open, her hands were going again, again, a big swing led to a takedown. Montes closed out the round on top, moving to full mount and dropping serious ground n’ pound until the bell. In the end, her game plan of capitalizing on Shields’ mistakes, and winning the positional battles along the fence, paid off.
— PFL (@PFLMMA) October 28, 2021
Claressa Shields will likely learn a valuable lesson from that fight: less is more. Fewer big swings leaving her open to takedowns, and she might have had a different result. Through two fights, Shields still looks like a boxer getting the fundamentals down; if she can build from this loss, she’ll still have plenty of upside.
Official Result: Abigail Montes def. Claressa Shields by split decision (28-29, 29-28, 29-28)