by Dane McGuire
Although she won’t be taking part in the official 2021 season of the Professional Fighters League, boxer Claressa “T-Rex” Shields’ MMA debut is just around the corner.
The two-time Olympic gold medalist faces Brittney Elkin on June 10, the promotion told The Associated Press in April. The bout in Atlantic City, New Jersey in the PFL’s own COVID-19 bubble, which is similar to what the UFC, Bellator, and other sports leagues have created due to the pandemic.
Shields will officially become a part of the PFL’s season style competition format in 2022 after a series of select bouts this year, starting with her debut.
The AP reported in April, “After winning Olympic gold in London and Rio de Janeiro, Shields is 11-0 as a pro boxer. She doesn’t intend to give up her boxing career while pursuing MMA glory, and she unified the four major light middleweight titles last March with a unanimous decision over Marie-Eve Dicaire.”
“Elkin is 3-6 in an MMA career that has included bouts in Bellator and the PFL. She was arm-barred by two-time Olympic judo gold medalist champion Kayla Harrison in the first round of Harrison’s MMA debut in 2018.”
Shields may not be giving up boxing, but she has shifted her focus fully to MMA, she told MMA Fighting May 30.
“In women’s boxing, women don’t get paid that much,” Shields explained when speaking to MMA Fighting. “I’ve won every title you can think of, every last organization. Three-time division world champ, two-time undisputed champ at 154 and 160 [pounds]. I’ve held titles at 168 and it’s like I’m not a millionaire. I’m known worldwide but I’m not a household name yet.
“There’s nothing more I can do in women’s boxing to make me be a household name cause I’ve done everything. Nothing else I can do. People was talking about me and Laila Ali fighting or her coming out of retirement. I still wouldn’t be a household name after that win.”
Essentially, successfully crossing over is about legacy for Shields. Doing so could put Shields alongside company like basketball and football star Bo Jackson.
“I am the GWOAT in boxing and I’ll be the GWOAT in MMA if I get the chance to fight in the PFL and I become a PFL MMA champion at the same time I’m boxing. Like who will be able to dispute that I’m the greatest woman of all time? I’ve beat all the girls in boxing and now I’ve beat girls in MMA. I feel like that’s just added to me being the GWOAT,” Shields said.
The June 10 event will air at 6 p.m. ET on ESPN+ and 10 p.m.ET on ESPN 2.