Claressa Shields says PFL return targeted for Q1 of 2024, reveals MMA title aspirations

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Joined: Nov 2016

December 30, 2023 6:00 pm ET

As Claressa Shields continues to do her thing as an undefeated boxing champion, MMA is still very much part of her combat sports plan.

Shields, who is 14-0 as a boxer and 1-1 in MMA, hasn’t fought in the latter sport since October 2021, where she lost a split decision to Abigail Montes at 2021 PFL Championships.

There were questions about whether the 28-year-old had moved past the MMA experiment after the setback, but Shields assured anyone questioning her priorities that is not the case.

In fact, Shields’ third MMA bout is expected to happen in the coming months.

“It’s looking like February or maybe April,” Shields told MMA Junkie Radio. “I’ve been training MMA with Murcielago Team in Lansing (Mich.) for the past few months, and I’ll continue training with them. I’ve been learning a lot. … I’m getting stronger in those fields that I’m not strong. I can’t say I’m strong on the ground, but I will be. I’m stronger than I was, so I’m just going to keep building from there.

“I’ve just been grinding and working hard, so I believe February or April you’ll see me back in the PFL SmartCage.”

Although Shields could easily stay in her own world and continue to thrive as a world champion boxer, she said her passion for fighting and competition won’t allow her to be complacent. She craves greatness in every avenue available, and that’s what serves as the motivation to work on the parts of her game where she’s still a relative novice.

“I love fighting,” Shields said. “I don’t like the fact that I have to say, ‘There’s other girls in MMA that can beat me.’ That kind of angers me a little bit, like, ‘Ugh, she can beat me in a fight because she knows more of the things that I don’t know. But she can’t beat me in a boxing match.’ But I want to be the best fighter in the world. It doesn’t matter if it’s MMA or if it’s kickboxing or it’s boxing. I want to be the best.”

With that mindset, Shields said she sets a high bar when it comes to her goals. The 2012 and 2016 Olympic gold medalist in boxing and current WBA, WBC, IBF, WBO, WBF and The Ring women’s middleweight titleholder only has known the highest level of success in her combat sports journey, so to aspire for anything other than an MMA championship would be accepting she can’t reach those same heights.

“I would like to become PFL champion,” Shields said. “I believe that is doable. I believe that it’s possible for me. Give me some years of training of just me making MMA a priority. I believe that I can be a PFL and boxing world champion at the same time. I know it’s big, but I feel like it’s achievable, 100 percent, for me.”

Be sure to visit the MMA Junkie Instagram page and YouTube channel to discuss this and more content with fans of mixed martial arts.


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