BOXING

All-time boxing great Claressa Shields’ dream MMA matchup would be against another GOAT

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If all goes according to plan, Claressa Shields hopes one day to be fighting against all-time great Cris Cyborg in MMA.

The highly decorated boxing champion and two-time Olympic gold medalist knows there’s a long road ahead to get to that point, but if it was up to her, Cyborg would be her ideal matchup in MMA. The possibility of a Shields-Cyborg bout did become a little more real now that the PFL, for which Shields fights in MMA, purchased Bellator, which is Cyborg’s home.

“The fight that I see – it’s the scariest fight for me in MMA – would be me vs. Cris Cyborg,” Shields told MMA Junkie Radio. “She’s a GOAT in MMA, and I’m a GOAT in boxing, and we both have multiple world titles in our field.

“I feel that fight right there would be the biggest fight and a fight that I would get up for. Listen, I would get up for a fight against Kayla Harrison or Larissa Pacheco. Those girls are badasses and good at what they do. But Cris just seems like she’s the beast. … If I had to pick a dream fight, it would be against her. I feel she’s better than Kayla and Larissa.”

Shields is one of the most accomplished women’s boxers in history. Many have the same regard for Cyborg in MMA.

Shields is only 1-1 in MMA, and hasn’t stepped back in the cage since her first professional loss in October 2021. Although she’s yet to go far in her MMA career, and her dream matchup is against Cyborg, the main goal is a championship.

Claressa Shields talks about becoming the greatest female boxer in ESPN's  Body Issue — Andscape

“I would like to become PFL champion,” Shields said. “I believe that is doable. I believe that it’s possible for me. Give me some years of training of just me making MMA a priority. I believe that I can be a PFL and boxing world champion at the same time. I know it’s big, but I feel like it’s achievable, 100 percent, for me.”

Shields expects to resume her fighting career in the cage early 2024.

“It’s looking like February or maybe April,” Shields said. “I’ve been training MMA with Murcielago Team in Lansing (Mich.) for the past few months, and I’ll continue training with them. I’ve been learning a lot. … I’m getting stronger in those fields that I’m not strong. I can’t say I’m strong on the ground, but I will be. I’m stronger than I was, so I’m just going to keep building from there. … I’ve just been grinding and working hard, so I believe February or April you’ll see me back in the PFL SmartCage.”

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