Olympic, professional boxing champ Shields wins MMA debut

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Claressa Shields climbs the cage after a Professional Fighters League mixed martial arts bout against Brittney Elkin in Atlantic City, N.J., Friday, June 11, 2021. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. – From the squared circle to the cage, Claressa Shields simply can't lose.

Shields made short work in her MMA debut of Brittney Elkin, and the two-time boxing gold medalist proved she might have a future in the sport with a TKO win on Thursday night in the main event of a Professional Fighters League card.

“I’m not losing this fight,” the undefeated boxer said.

A two-time Olympic gold winner, Shields proved in her 155-pound fight she’s just as adept at unleashing a beating in mixed martial arts. She shook off a slow first two rounds before she got Elkin on the ground and needed a few heavy shots to cause the decisive damage. She earned the win with a right hand from the top at 1:44 of the third round.

“I feel like I am dreaming. This is crazy,” she said.

Shields ditched some of the flamboyant costumes she’s worn in boxing (where she's 11-0) for straight red trunks and top. She still wore her hair in a blue ponytail to raise awareness to the clean water fight that’s gone on for years in her hometown of Flint, Michigan.

She already won the light middleweight, middleweight and super middleweight crowns in her boxing career and become the fastest fighter in history — either male or female — to become a three-division world champion. Shields only started her MMA training in December at the Jackson Wink MMA Academy in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Her inexperience showed early. Shields kept her cool and worked her way back after Elkin took her down against the cage early in the first round. Elkin mounted Shields and pounded her in the face — the Olympian taking more of a beating in one round than she did over most of her pro boxing career.