Professional Fighters League has made a significant addition to its roster.
The promotion has signed boxing champion and two-time Olympic gold medalist Claressa Shields to compete in the lightweight division. MMAjunkie.com was first to report the news.
Shields will not participate in the PFL 2021 season format; instead she will take one-off fights at various events throughout the year. The arrangement is similar to how Olympic judo gold medalist Kayla Harrison began her PFL tenure in 2018 before winning the organization’s 155-pound championship in 2019.
In the past, Shields has publicly mused about a transition to MMA, and she has a enjoyed a training relationship with current Bellator featherweight queen Cristiane Justino.
Shields later attended UFC 245 in December 2019 to watch Amanda Nunes defend her bantamweight title with a unanimous decision victory over Germained de Randamie. UFC president Dana White confirmed that he had engaged in discussions with Shields and her team regarding a fight with Nunes in either MMA or boxing. Those talks apparently never got too serious, as Shields will now make her MMA debut under the PFL banner.
Shields is currently 10-0 as a professional boxer after compiling a 77-1 mark as an amateur. She is one of only a handful of fighters to hold all four major titles — WBA, WBC, IBF and WBO — in boxing. Shields last competed in January, taking a unanimous verdict over Ivana Habazin after weighing in 153.4 pounds for the bout.
Shields’ signing comes on the heels of another high profile addition by PFL, which signed former UFC heavyweight champ Fabricio Werdum earlier this month.
The PFL will begin its 2021 season in April. The organization canceled the 2020 campaign due to concerns regarding the COVID-19 pandemic.