Claressa Shields’ second appearance in an MMA cage did not go nearly as well as her debut.
The two-time Olympic gold medalist and undisputed junior middleweight and middleweight champion boxer lost a split decision to lightweight Abigail Montes (3-0) on the main card of the 2021 PFL Championship in Hollywood, FL. Shields had won her debut back in June by third-round TKO against Brittney Elkin.
Shields did defend Montes’ takedowns effectively in the opening round and outstruck her with her boxing. But rounds two and three told a tale of Claressa having difficulties dealing with clinches and takedowns as a result of her trying to box. There were some instances where she used the whizzer and other techniques to keep herself upright, but nevertheless Montes (who trains with current UFC fighters and fellow Mexicans Irene Aldana and Alexa Grasso) got those takedowns. Shields did sting Montes with a right hand early in the 3rd, but it was towards the end of the round where she advanced to full mount and got in some ground-and-pound to seal the win.
There’s no particular reason that Shields should’ve gotten two rounds on that one scorecard, as it looked pretty clear that Montes deserved the win, and she did get her hand raised in the end. Shields congratulated Montes on the victory afterward, as she became the first person to defeat Claressa since Savannah Marshall did so in the amateur ranks back in 2012.
Shields has only been training MMA for nine months, so there’s a lot to learn still, but in the meantime she’ll return to boxing on December 11th to defend her middleweight belts against Ema Kozin. She’ll be on the same card as Savannah Marshall, with an eye on the two of them rematching in the pros in 2022.
Watch the highlights below:
Abigail Montes def. Claressa Shields by split decision (28-29, 29-28, 29-28)