Boxing Champion Claressa Shields Set to Make MMA Debut in Atlantic City
Women's boxing champion Claressa Shields has decided to try her hand (and foot) at mixed martial arts.
Shields, a three-division champion and two-time Olympic gold medalist, will be making her MMA debut in Atlantic City on June 10, when she faces Brittney Elkin as part of a Professional Fighters League (PFL) card at Ocean Casino Resort.
"I am very excited to cement my legacy as the Greatest Woman of All Time," Shield said in a statement on PFL's web site. " Shields said. "I cannot wait to step into the PFL cage for the first time on June 10 and show the world that I never back down from a challenge. I have shown I am the best boxer in the world and eventually I intend to do the same thing as a mixed martial artist."
The bout will mark the third time Shields has fought in Atlantic City in the last three years.
On April 13, 2019, the Flint, Michigan native became the second-fastest boxer to become a unified champion when she earned a unanimous decision over Christina Hammer to win the IBF, WBA, WBC, WBO middleweight titles. On Jan 10, 2020, she became the WBC and WBO junior-middleweight champ with a unanimous decision over Ivana Habazin. Shields is 11-0 with two knockouts as a pro boxer.
Elkin, from Westminster, Colorado, owns a 3-6 record in MMA while competing in PFL, Bellator, Sparta Combat League and Fight 2 Win. Her only previous fight with PFL ended with a first-round loss via submission (armbar) to future PFL champion Kayla Harrison in June of 2018.
"I'm very grateful to be back in the PFL and to have this opportunity to square off with Claressa Shields," Elkin said on the PFL web site. "I know she is a great boxer but this is MMA and I plan to show everyone that I am a well-rounded fighter who can compete wherever the fight takes me."
Shields has been training in MMA for the last four months at Jackson Wink MMA Academy in Albuquerque, New Mexico alongside former world champions Jon Jones and Holly Holm.
Holm is probably the most successful boxer to make the transition to MMA. Five years after switching disciplines, she knocked out Ronda Rousey to become UFC bantamweight champion. She's 4-5 in subsequent bouts, including losses to Miesha Tate, Cristine Justino (Cyborg) and Amanda Nunes.
"I think some of the biggest things I truly feel going from one sport to another is being humble, being disciplined, and having your own self-drive and ambition," Holm told MMA Junkie. "If somebody has all those things then they can do it. I think that (Shields) has the ambition, she has the dedication, she has the self-motivation."
The PFL will be holding its entire, six-card regular season at Ocean, starting on April 23. No fans will be permitted at Ocean's Ovation Hall, but all fights will be shown live on ESPN 2 and ESPN-plus. Shields is not competing in the regular season, but is scheduled to do so in 2022.
The PFL held events at Ocean in both 2018 and 2019 before the 2020 season was canceled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The April 23 show will be the first boxing or MMA professional event held in Atlantic City in 13 months. Vineland-based Cage Fury Fighting Championships has a card scheduled for May 29 at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City.
There are no boxing shows currently scheduled.