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 her inexperience during several takedowns but also her power with punches.

Ultimately, it was too much for Elkin (3-7) in the Professional Fighters League bout at the Ocean Casino Resort in Atlantic City, N.J.

IT’S ALL OVER!!! CLARESSA SHIELDS IS HERE TO STAY!#2021PFL4pic.twitter.com/6zYPYwCGQY

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 grown increasingly frustrated by her income.

Having failed to make $1 million despite her accomplishments, she began to explore an MMA career.

Claressa Shields celebrates her win over Brittney Elkin. (Photo: Elsa, Getty Images)

Road to debut: Claressa Shields has conquered women's boxing world. MMA is next.

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.

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