Claressa Shields Opens Up On Balancing Two Careers While At PFL

Published 12/20/2020, 11:46 PM EST
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – AUGUST 21: Gold medalist Claressa Maria Shields of the United States poses on the podium during the medal ceremony for the Women’s Boxing Middle (69-75kg) on Day 16 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at Riocentro – Pavilion 6 on August 21, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)


Claressa Shields may be the most exciting women’s combat sports athlete around right now. The undefeated boxer has announced a move to MMA with the Pro Fighters League. However, she has also mentioned that she wants to pursue her career in boxing while also competing in the PFL.

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In an exclusive interview with us at EssentiallySports, Shields revealed how she plans to manage to compete in two sports at this elite level.

ATLANTIC CITY, NJ – APRIL 13: Claressa Shields reacts after defeating Christina Hammer (not pictured) and becoming the women’s undisputed middleweight champion at Atlantic City Boardwalk Hall on April 13, 2019 in Atlantic City, New Jersey. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

“It’s gonna take a lot of mental strength. To be able to box and also be able to do MMA. When I say mental strength, being fully aware of which one I am in. In a boxing match, I don’t want to accidentally throw a kick, so that is more on me. To be a 100% there in the ring and I think that’s all mental strength.

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She also spoke about adjusting to MMA. “Also inside the MMA cage, I wanna make sure I am a 100% there because I know all the rules in boxing go out the window. You can kick, you can knee, you can slam. When you hit the ground, there is no eight count. Getting used to that will be a task in itself. Just being fully aware of which one I am in. This is not something I do every day, it is a different thing.”

Claressa Shields: Guaranteed to dominate in the PFL?

When a boxer openly announces a switch to MMA, many people are hesitant in evaluating them. This is mainly because MMA is so multi-faceted that many people feel that just being a boxer will not help anyone in the sport. However, if a fighter can grasp the different forms of fighting well enough, they will be dominant.

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Claressa Shields will continue evolving her striking for the PFL and MMA, but will have to also maintain it for boxing. Considering these are two very different forms of combat sport, it will be very exciting to see how she manages to pull this off.

Mental strength will become the key for Shields as her career progresses. MMA fans are just as unforgiving. The PFL has a stacked roster. Whoever Shields face in her debut MMA bout in mid-2021 will be a dangerous opponent regardless. However, if she can get past her, she will start building her own legacy in the sport.

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Hopefully, we see this debut sooner than later. While many are unsure of her move to maintain high-level careers in two sports, it something unprecedented and something that will pique everyone’s interest.

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Ishaan Bhattacharya

1510 articles

Ishaan Bhattacharya is an NBA, NCAA Basketball, and Combat Sports writer at EssentiallySports. Currently, Ishaan is pursuing a Post Graduate Degree in Journalism from Xavier's Institute of Communication. Previously, Ishaan has written for The Indian Express, The Quint, Sportskeeda, and WrestleClub.

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