Claressa Shields has known nothing but dominance in the world of boxing. Now she will try her hand at MMA. The 26-year-old will make her mixed martial arts debut Thursday night at 2021 PFL 4 from Ocean Casino Resort in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
Shields will meet Brittney Elkin on the main card as the organization rolls on with its regular-season format. The special main event has been highly anticipated since Shields signed with the organization in November.
To this point, not many boxers with Shields' level of success have made the transition to MMA. She doesn't appear to be doing it as a quick cash grab, either. At 26, she still has plenty of boxing in front of her. So the interest in how well her debut goes should be high because she could be a star in the sport.
Let's not get ahead of ourselves, though. Here's all the info you need about when to catch the fight.
Date: Thursday, June 10
Time: 10 p.m. ET
Live Stream: ESPN Plus
TV: ESPN 2
Odds: Shields -335 (bet $335 to win $100), Elkin +245 (bet $100 to win $245)
Odds via DraftKings Sportsbook.
As mentioned, Shields has been dominant in the boxing ring. Holly Holm made the transition to MMA after winning world titles as a boxer, but she didn't win her first world championship in boxing until her 17th fight.
Shields is a two-time Olympic gold medalist and captured her first world championship in boxing just four fights into her career and just under a year removed from her professional debut.
She comes into MMA with a boxing record of 11-0. Only two of those wins came by way of knockout, but with the much smaller gloves in MMA, her power could translate to a much higher knockout rate in her new sport.
She has been training in New Mexico with the Jackson Wink MMA Academy, which includes Holm, who could offer Shields a unique perspective as she looks to make the switch.
Little preview of @Claressashields exploring her MMA standup abilities with @mmacoachwink... and yes... there will be plenty of wrestling and grappling education with @GregJacksonMMA and the coaching staff! It will be an interesting project for everyone involved! 🙌 https://t.co/O5O9RZQ2YD
Shields is adamant she understands the difficulty that comes in adding different elements to her game. It's something she's excited to show on fight night.
"There's a stereotype that boxers don't do well in MMA or boxers just want to come in and stand up or boxers don't want to work on takedowns or defense," Shields said, per Bronson Wright of The Undefeated. "I know what I need to do, and I've given myself enough time to get ready for my opponent, and I will do well on June 10."
If her goal is to become a major player on the MMA scene, she will need to breeze through this fight with style. The PFL is giving her an opponent who should provide her the opportunity to show her skills.
Elkin is just 3-6 as a professional fighter, and none of those wins have come by submission. She's been finished in five of the six losses. Fellow PFL crossover star Kayla Harrison was able to submit her at 3:18 of the first round, so there's pressure to get an early finish.
The underdog is looking to spring the upset, though.
"I'm here for the upset," Elkin said at a press conference. "I'm just really excited about this matchup. I think the first round is going to be a lot of feeling each other out. I think we will both probably give our best in that. Then I predict we will go to the second round, and I will probably get the finish."
Shields should win this one on pure talent alone. She moves incredibly well, and her striking is going to be a huge advantage. Still, it is worth tuning in just to work out how long it is before Shields can take on much bigger challenges.
Prediction: Shields via first-round TKO.
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