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Claressa Shields: UFC wanted ‘one fight deal’ against ‘best girl they had’

Claressa Shields Media Workout Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images

Olympic gold medalist and multi-title boxing champ Claressa Shields made headlines earlier this month when she announced her intentions to jump into the world of mixed martial arts, signing with the PFL. It wasn’t long after that she showed just how serious she was about the sport by showing up at Team Jackson-Wink, getting down on Instagram with the likes of Holly Holm, Michelle Waterson, and one Jon “Bones” Jones.

In a recent interview with MMA Fighting, Shields explained how she ended up going from putting pen to paper to getting in the Albuquerque cage so quick.

“When I signed a contract for the PFL, all these interviews started coming and I found myself having anxiety,” Shields said. “Because yes I’m signed to the PFL. Now I gotta start training. I’m a person that believes in the five Ps, proper preparation prevents poor performance. Man, I was just like ‘I gotta get prepared.’”

Shields revealed it had been Jon Jones who had planted the seed of training at Jackson-Wink and then a call from Greg Jackson following her announcement that drew her to New Mexico.

“[Jones] always said if I ever came to MMA he would love for me to train with his coaches,” she said. “But that was almost two years ago.”

While things actually came together this time, it’s not the first flirtation with MMA that Shields has had. There were negotiations with the UFC a year ago in December of 2019 but they didn’t go anywhere because Shields felt like she was getting set up to lose.

“It was just the conversation,” Shields said. “It wasn’t like ‘Hey, come and train a few months and then fight against the best girl that we have at your weight. I think that’s unfair to me and it’s not giving me enough time to learn. If you’re talking about letting me train for two years and then I’ll fight against the best girl you have. All right, cool. But the conversation with Dana was almost like a one fight deal a little bit.”

“With the PFL, it was ‘Let’s train, let’s start you at this level and work your way up’ and then I’ll have a chance to fight in the PFL tournament in 2022,” she continued. “And also I’ll still be able to box, so my boxing career isn’t just over because I’m doing MMA. I actually have a boxing match in February, it just hasn’t been announced yet. I still get to box and I’m not getting rushed. And it’s a lucrative deal and a lucrative conversation where it was a three year deal. It’s not like ‘Hey come over here fight two times and go back to boxing.’ I’m a conqueror and I’m a winner so I want to put myself in a position to always win.”

As for how long it’ll take for Shields to make her MMA debut?

“We already have a deadline for that,” Shields said. “That’s why I’m already working now and learning right now. I’m looking forward to fighting in May, June next year, my MMA pro debut.”

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