After winning world championships in three weight divisions in just 10 fights as a professional boxer, Claressa Shields has signed on to take her talents to the MMA cage. The two-time Olympic gold medalist signed a contract to compete in the Professional Fighters League, PFL officials confirmed on Tuesday.
"I want to thank Professional Fighters League and Peter Murray for believing in me and giving me this amazing opportunity," Shields said in a PFL press release. "What drew me to the PFL is that it is definitely a fighter-first organization, and I can't wait to be a part of that. Since turning pro it has been my goal to be the GWOAT and to be a two-sport star like Bo Jackson and Deion Sanders," said Claressa Shields. "I want to go where no man or woman has gone and hold championships in both boxing and MMA at the same time. The one-two punch of PFL in MMA and Salita Promotions in boxing will allow me to continue to show that there are no limits to what a woman can do. I can't wait to get to work!"
Shields won gold medals in 2012 and 2016 before turning professional in November 2016. In just her fourth professional bout, Shields won the WBC and IBF super middleweight titles. She then added the WBA and IBF middleweight titles in her sixth fight. Four fights later, she dropped to light middleweight and won the WBC and WBO world championships.
Her name had been previously tied to both two-division UFC champion Amanda Nunes and former UFC and current Bellator champion Cris Cyborg for dream fights, either in the cage or the boxing ring.
While those promotions didn't land Shields, there are some appealing fights in PFL. The promotion employs a "season" structure, featuring tournaments across multiple weight classes. In 2019, Kayla Harrison, who won Olympic gold medals in judo at the same two Olympic Games in 2012 and 2016, won the women's lightweight title.
Similar to Harrison's path, though, Shields will begin her PFL career by taking one-off fights in 2021 before competing in the 2022 season. Harrison took the same route in 2018 before claiming the PFL gold in 2019.
Shields teased the move in February, posting a social media video of her throwing kicks in training and stating she was "serious about transitioning."