Olympic gold medalist Claressa Shields is making the transition from boxing to mixed martial arts, signing a deal with Professional Fighters League (PFL).
Shields, 25, confirmed her signing with ESPN following an initial report by MMA Junkie.
"I wanted to test myself," Shields told the publication of her transition into MMA. "I want to see if I can be a world champion in boxing and a world champion in MMA. That's something I want to test myself on. I'm not saying boxing is easy, but I've been on top of the world for almost 14 years now."
"I can say, it's not as bad as I thought it would be," she elaborated on the grappling aspect of MMA. "I thought I would absolutely hate it. I thought as soon as she grabbed my leg I would get frustrated and would try to bite her or something, but that hasn't happened."
Shields assured she is committing fully to a career in MMA.
"I was telling MMA fans, I'm not just a talker," Shields asserted. "I know that's what they are used to, all these clout chasers out there. I'm like, the real deal. Anything I say I can do, I put my best foot forward and I do it. I haven't lost a fight since I was 17 years old, and I'm 25. I had 77 wins as an amateur, one loss. I'm 10-0 as a pro."
"I'm not coming to MMA to lose," she concluded. "The next time they see me in the cage, I'm gonna have muscles coming out my damn neck training so hard to win."
Boxing insider Mike Coppinger of The Athletic reports that Shields will debut for PFL on April 23. In the meantime, she will box Marie-Eve Diclaire in January or February.
Shields has amassed a professional boxing record of 10-0 (2 KOs). She most recently beat Ivana Habazin by unanimous decision in January for the vacant WBC and WBO light-middleweight belts. Current talks are for Shields to begin her career at 155, joining fellow Olympic gold medalist Kayla Harrison on the PFL roster.
Shields was previously asked about her chances in MMA when there were rumored talks of a fight with current UFC two-division champion Amanda Nunes.
“If they put me in four oz. gloves, they’ll be calling me Muhammad Ali," Shields told media at UFC 245.
New PFL athlete @ClaressaShields spoke last year about a move to MMA and the adjustments she'd need to make.— MMA Junkie (@MMAjunkie) December 1, 2020
"If they put me in 4oz gloves, they'll be calling me Muhammad Ali."
More on her signing: https://t.co/uetKZ4Hl2D pic.twitter.com/PzE0Qw0fDr