BY Dollita Okine, 10:00am February 27, 2024,

Claressa Shields breaks ground as the winner of the first female MMA match in Saudi Arabia 

This was her first professional MMA battle since she was unexpectedly defeated by Abigail Montes in October 2021. Photo Credit: Instagram

Making history, undefeated boxing champion Claressa Shields emerged victorious in the first-ever professional female Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) match in Saudi Arabia.

According to CNN, Shields emotionally expressed “I had such a hard camp,” after her triumph. She added, “It’s not easy what I’m trying to do and I’ve been so respectful of the sport. I put a lot of hard work in; I’m going to go back to the gym and work harder.”

“I almost got my arm snapped in the freakin’ armbar,” Shields continued. “I had to fight out of that. There was days in camp where I was literally in tears. I was not considering going back to the gym because it was so hard but I forced myself to go back and that’s how I got the win tonight.”

This was her first professional MMA battle since she was unexpectedly defeated by Abigail Montes in October 2021. In an incredible victory, the 28-year-old unexpectedly defeated USA MMA competitor Kelsey De Santis by wriggling out of a tight hold.

Shields and De Santis competed on the undercard of Bellator MMA’s PFL vs. Bellator event, which was promoted by the Professional Fighters League.

In addition to Shields’ 14-0 boxing record, her most recent victory helped her achieve a 2-1 record in professional mixed martial arts, according to CNN. 

Shields, one of the best women boxers in the world, is a two-time gold medalist at the Olympics and was the first unchallenged winner in the light middleweight and middleweight weight classes in a time when there were four titles to be won.

Since the ultra-conservative country, Saudi Arabia, has recently relaxed some of the severe limitations placed on women residing there, there has been an increase in the visibility of female mixed martial arts participants. 

“It’s going to inspire the women there. It’s going to inspire their culture and their country,” Shields said of her fight and what it means for the country in an interview with The Athletic.

“If you go and look at my story to see everything that I went through and how sports changed my life, they will feel that every woman and every man deserves sports. Sports change lives and it saves lives.”

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: February 27, 2024


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