Claressa Shields intends to make her mixed martial arts debut three months after her next boxing match.
Shields informed BoxingScene.com that her plan is to schedule her first MMA match for some time in the middle of June. The undefeated, three-division women’s world champion revealed early in December that she signed a contract to compete in the Professional Fighters League, an MMA organization that has a television contract with ESPN.
Shields announced Tuesday that her 154-pound championship boxing bout against Marie-Eve Dicaire has been rescheduled for March 5. The Shields-Dicaire fight will headline a pay-per-view show from Dort Federal Credit Union Event Center in Flint, Michigan, Shields’ hometown (www.FITE.tv; $29.95).
“It’s looking like my debut in MMA will be in the middle of June,” Shields told BoxingScene.com. “So, this will be a busy year for me. I have the boxing match March 5th, an MMA fight in June and I’m hoping to fight again somewhere around August, September, in a boxing match, and then again in MMA. So, two boxing matches and then two MMA fights throughout the year.”
Shields has spent the past two weeks developing her MMA skills at Jackson Wink Academy, a renowned MMA facility in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The two-time Olympic gold medalist realizes she has a lot of work to do to compete at the championship level in MMA, yet she has been motivated by detractors that insist she cannot succeed in a sport in which she has no background.
“I’m super excited just to prove all the doubters wrong,” Shields said. “People said that I wouldn’t become undisputed. I did it in boxing. People said, you know, I wouldn’t break Lomachenko’s record and become a three-division champion faster than him. I did that. People said I couldn’t beat [Christina] Hammer, that I’d never fight in the main event. People said I’d never fight on pay-per-view, and now I’m doing all that. So, now just in MMA, people are saying, ‘Oh, it’s a whole different sport. You’re gonna get smashed!’ I just can’t wait to have those people just eating their words. Like, they’re gonna be so upset when I win.”
If Shields defeats Dicaire in their 10-round title bout, she’ll become an undisputed champion in a second division barely four years into her pro career. Dicaire, 34, and Shields, 25, will fight for Shields’ WBC and WBO, Dicaire’s IBF and the vacant WBA “super” 154-pound crowns.
Shields (10-0, 2 KOs) was supposed to meet Montreal’s Dicaire (17-0, 0 KOs) in the main event of a Showtime telecast May 9, but that card was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Shields is expected to compete as a lightweight in MMA, which is capped at 155 pounds in that sport. She’ll be matched modestly in her MMA debut, but Shields ultimately wants elite-level fights with MMA legends Amanda Nunes and Cris Cyborg.
“I’ve developed very well,” Shields said. “I’ve been out here to two camps at Jackson Wink. I have a dorm here now, and I train two or three times a day, on just everything. I work the ground game. I wrestle, ju-jitsu, learning the kicks, which have come very easily to me, strangely. And I’m just mixing it all together. It’s been a very informational journey, and I’ve learned so much. And I really do love all my coaches, and everybody on the team who even gives me any help or any advice.
“It’s just great to use my whole body to do something, with like no restrictions. That’s why I come here, to just focus strictly on MMA. Then, when I go [to Florida], to get ready for this fight in March, I’ll do a full four weeks of just boxing. And that’s just get my mental ready to know there is no kicking, there is no kneeing. It’s only 1-2, 1-2-3-4-5-6. It’s just with the hands. I’ve just been very on myself about that.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.