Claressa Shields wins MMA debut via third-round TKO

ATLANTIC CITY, NEW JERSEY - JUNE 10: Claressa Shields of the United States punches Brittney Elkin of the United States during the third round of their lightweight bout in Ovation Hall at Ocean Casino Resort on June 10, 2021 in Atlantic City, New Jersey. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

11-0 in boxing, 1-0 in Mixed Martial Arts. (Picture by Elsa/Getty Images)

Claressa Shields is 1-0 as an MMA fighter.

The three-division boxing champ scored a third-round TKO win over Brittney Elkin in her Mixed Martial Arts launching, the centerpiece of 2021’s PFL 4.

Shields’ punching power was plainly evident through the very first 2 rounds, however was reduced by Elkin consistently attempting to remove Shields. It wasn’t unexpected to see Shields’ have a weak point in her ground video game, however she handled to prevent a defeat by submission.

Trying to take Shields to the ground didn’t go almost also for Elkin in the 3rd round, as Shields wound up in a dominant position and continued to go to town on her challenger. After a list of shots to the head, the ref called the defend Shields.

“My coach said ‘Let her up,” he was stating ‘Let her up,’ and I informed myself ‘Hell nah,'” Shields stated after the bout.

By the PFL’s count, Shields outstruck Elkin 90-43 in the fight, with 39 arm strikes, two leg strikes and 49 on the ground.

Claressa Shields’ MMA career off to good start

Shields made waves late last year when she interrupted an undefeated professional boxing career to sign a three-year deal with PFL. 

The two-time Olympic gold medalist had been frustrated with her lack of opportunities as a boxer despite holding an 11-0 record and active titles in two divisions (she’s currently the undisputed champion at middleweight and light middleweight). The move to MMA doesn’t put Shields’ boxing career on ice, but it’s not often you see a sport’s top athlete try her hand somewhere else during her prime.

In PFL, Shields has an MMA promotion with fighters in her weight class — Shields fought Thursday at lightweight, and the UFC has few fighters even at featherweight — but the biggest lure is the prospect of a fight against 2020 lightweight champion Kayla Harrison. 

A Shields-Harrison fight would be one of the biggest events in the history of both women’s MMA and PFL, and the PFL’s structure would set it all up for a clash on New Year’s Eve. Shields’ win on Thursday is her first step toward that hope, and the MMA world will certainly hope she sees it out.

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Jobber Wiki author Frank Long contributed to this report.