FORT LAUDERDALE — Claressa Shields is fully committed to forging a strong and viable MMA career.
The former three-division 11-0 boxing champion and two-time Olympic gold medalist joined MMA as a PFL lightweight in 2021. The tournament formatted promotion currently has Shields on the outside looking in as she keeps gaining experience after successfully debuting in June with a third-round TKO against Brittney Elkin.
“I wish it was next year if I had the experience,” Shields told BJPenn.com of when she hopes to participate in her first PFL season. “The thing is, I could jump in next year and probably beat a few girls but it’s like, you’re going for a million dollars. You shouldn’t get in there just to go, ‘Oh, I beat a few girls.’ No, I want to be able to have enough skill and have enough knowledge to where I feel I can beat everybody in the tournament. So I think 2023 is my year. 2022 we’re gonna keep building and go from there.”
Claressa Shields is wasting no time getting in her MMA reps as her sophomore outing is scheduled for Oct. 27 on the 2021 PFL Finals card – six million dollars will be awarded throughout the night.
Standing in Shields’ way will be a 21-year old prospect out of Mexico, the 2-0 Abigail Montes.
“It feels different because I know more,” Shields said of prep for Montes. “So sparring has definitely picked up. The ground game has still picked up and just learning more and putting everything into my brain, just doing the homework on Abigail, me and my team having a game plan for her… It’s been different but it’s been different because I know better.
“I think Abigail is a very spicy fighter. She comes forward, she wants to fight. She’ll throw punches, she’ll throw kicks, she’ll go for takedowns. I think she’s just very sassy in there. But from her fights that I’ve seen, she fought against girls who weren’t athletic. Girls who I looked at and really didn’t take the sport seriously — that they kind of just fed her an opponent to just get a win on her record or whatever. That’s nothing to take away from her, that’s what she’s supposed to do. But I’m a different caliber type of fighter.”