Boxing star Claressa Shields defeats Brittney Elkin via TKO in MMA debut
Claressa Shields, the world champion boxer, won her MMA debut Thursday night with a third-round TKO over Brittney Elkin.
Elkin controlled most of the first two rounds, keeping Shields pinned on her back.
But in the third and final round, Shields reversed the story, got on top of Elkin and unloaded punches until the referee called the fight at 1:44 of the third round.
“I feel like I’ve been dreaming,’’ Shields said, beaming during a post-fight interview. “This is crazy.’’
Fighting in the 155-pound women’s lightweight division, Shields (1-0 MMA) showed inexperience during takedowns but displayed power with punches. The punches came in a flurry in the third round when Shields got on top of Elkin and let her right hand go to work.
“My right hand has never failed me,'' she said.
After the fight, Shields revealed instructions her coaches shouted in the final moments.
“They were saying, 'Let her up,' " Shields said. "And I just told myself, ‘Hell, no.’ "
Shields continued to pound away, and it was too much for Elkin (3-7) as the referee stopped the featured bout in the Professional Fighters League bout at the Ocean Casino Resort in Atlantic City, N.J.
Shields, 26, had been training in MMA for the past six months but took breaks to continue boxing.
Shields won an Olympic gold medal in boxing at the 2012 Games in London and at the 2016 Games in Rio before turning professional. She has won world titles in three weight divisions, but has grown increasingly frustrated by her income.
Having failed to make $1 million despite her accomplishments, she began to explore an MMA career.
At the end of 2020, Shields signed a three-year contract with the Professional Fighters League (PFL), which was founded in 2018 and offers a season-ending, $1 million payout for champions of each weight division.
Her second MMA fight is scheduled for August, and she is expected to fight twice next year and join the PFL’s regular season format in 2023. But on Thursday night, Shields was relishing the moment.
“Listen, I never doubted myself going into a boxing match in all of my life,'' she said. "MMA was something like, 'It's possible I could lose this first fight. I don't want to lose. I’m going to try dang hard not to lose.' And that's all I did. I had a never-quit attitude every round.''