Claressa Shields, arguably the No. 1 pound-for-pound female boxer in the world, has signed an exclusive, multi-year contract with PFL that will see her transition to professional mixed martial arts, sources confirmed to ESPN.
A two-time Olympic gold medalist in boxing, Shields, 25, will not compete in PFL’s traditional “season format” in 2021, but intends to target a season berth in 2022, the sources confirmed. She will continue to box in 2021 as well as compete in MMA.
MMA Junkie was first to report the signing.
A native of Flint, Michigan, Shields was a gold medalist boxer for the U.S. in the 2012 and 2016 Olympics. She has teased the idea of a transition to MMA for more than a year, and at one point, challenged UFC two-weight champion Amanda Nunes to a 2-fight contest consisting of one boxing match, one MMA match.
The PFL postponed its entire 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but has plans to resume its 2021 season in April in Las Vegas. The promotion offers a 155-pound lightweight division for females, and it’s led by 2019 winner Kayla Harrison. Harrison also won Olympic gold in 2012 and 2016 for the U.S. in judo. Harrison is 8-0 in MMA.
Information from ESPN’s Brett Okamoto contributed to this report.