PFL’s mistake with Claressa Shields

Claressa Shields is in deep training in New Mexico in preparation for his PFL debut. Photo courtesy of PFL

PFL made huge waves last year when they signed Claressa Shields (1-1 MMA) to an exclusive contract for MMA. Shields is a two-time Olympic Gold Medalist in boxing and she’s won a number of world titles in her professional boxing career.

The 26 year old Shields wanted to challenge herself and she decided that she wanted to become a two-sport world champion. She had already climbed to the top of boxing and now she wanted to do the same in MMA.

PFL jumped at the opportunity and signed Shields to a deal at the end of last year. Shields wasn’t going to compete in the 2021 season, but she was going to compete and fight a couple of times. PFL gave her two fights this year.

The first matchup was against Brittney Elkin (3-7) back in June. Now, you’d think a 3-6 fighter at the time would be a good first step for Shields. However, it wasn’t a great decision when you factor in the kind of fighter that Elkin was.

Elkin was known for her skills on the mat and mostly dominated the first couple of rounds against Shields in the boxer’s first MMA fight. However, in the third round, Shields was able to defend the takedown and got a TKO win at PFL 4.

PFL’s Mistake

After her first win, PFL got to work on booking Shields’ second fight. Her second fight took place last night against Abigail Montes (2-0). Montes was making her debut with PFL but she walked in with a perfect record. In her two fights, she had shown really good wrestling and ground control.

The first round of last night’s matchup was pretty uneventful. Shields landed some decent shots, but Montes spent the majority of the round leaning Shields up against the cage trying to get a takedown. The next two rounds didn’t go well for Shields.

While the second round was mostly competitive, a takedown and good amount of control sealed the round for Montes. The third round was dominated by Montes who landed a takedown and finished the round in mount while raining down punches.

One judge somehow scored the fight for Shields, but the other two got it right and Montes picked up the win handing Claressa Shields her first professional loss in combat sports. With the loss, you have to think about the missed opportunity PFL had with Shields.

Both fighters that they gave her to start her MMA career were more grappling-first type of fighters. I don’t understand the logic behind the decision. If you wanted Shields to blossom into a star, you give her someone that will strike with her so she can show off her talent.

Eventually, she will have to face a grappler, but rushing her in against grapplers right away just is a massive miscalculation in my opinion. Shields is young enough and talented enough to overcome this and retrieve some of her mystique. However, after these first two performances, the luster is mostly gone for ‘The GWOAT’ in MMA and it’s not on her.