CLARESSA SHIELDS can become an unprecedented world champion in boxing and MMA as she eyes the Professional Fighters League season.
Only UFC legend and newly inducted boxing Hall of Famer Holly Holm has held titles in both combat codes.
But Shields, who calls herself The Greatest Women of All Time, could be about to change that.
Double Olympic gold, two undisputed world titles and belts in three divisions is not enough for the outspoken American.
She turned professional in MMA last year with the PFL and is currently 1-1 in the cage.
Shields’ immediate focus is on her unification super-fight with rival Savannah Marshall, set for September 10 in London.
But she is due to make a quick turnaround with an MMA return eyed for November in the hopes of fighting in the PFL’s season next year.
It would offer Shields the chance to not only win PFL’s $1million cash prize but also add an MMA world title to her name.
So even while usually finding herself as an underdog and outsider in the cage, the boxing star carries a weight of expectation wherever she fights.
Shields said: “People feel like I have the potential to be a MMA world champion in 2023 – which I do – but it’s still going to be a lot of pressure.
“Everybody’s going to want me to go out there and do spectacular things, even in the PFL season.
“There’s always pressure, even if I am the underdog in the PFL or the underdog in boxing, because of what I’ve already accomplished.
“I can’t go out there and not perform and not have a good fight because it messes with all my hard work from before.
“I always have to keep that up and do better than my last fight. There’s always pressure.
“Even people know I’ve only been doing MMA for a year, everybody thinks I’m super-women.
“That’s why I’m fighting September in boxing and then fighting in November after in MMA.”
Fighters in the PFL season have two regular season bouts, where points are earned for your method of victory.
The top four then qualify for the play-offs, which is a semi-final to determine the last two.
People feel like I have the potential to be an MMA world champion in 2023 – which I do – but it’s still going to be a lot of pressure.
Boxing champ Claressa Shields
Finalists then fight in a dramatic winner-take-all showpiece, where the $1m prize cheque is on the line.
Shields expects to focus solely on MMA after her grudge match with Marshall, 31, where all four middleweight boxing titles will be on the line.
She has only twice tasted defeat in her life, most recently last October in the PFL cage.
The other was against Marshall in the amatuer boxing ranks – a win her British nemesis has been keen to bring up when given the chance.
Shields said: “I wanted to do MMA to challenge myself.
“Even the amatuer loss ten years ago, I was 17, and for those who don’t know, I’m 27 now!
“If you’re living off a win from ten years ago – Lord have mercy.
“But, as we move forward, I won the Olympics two months later and I’ve been the best, the greatest ever since.
“Now in the PFL, I was upset I lost, but it was a split-decision and I did a lot of things good in that fight and had a lost of great things to take from.
“But losing sucks, it doesn’t matter if you’ve only been doing something for a year, me personally, I train to win and I don’t ever want to experience losing again.”
Source: The Sun
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