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Tearful Shields makes history with win on MMA return

A tearful Claressa Shields secured a historic victory as she won the first women’s MMA bout to be held in Saudi Arabia on her return to the octagon for the first time since 2021.

Shields, a three-weight world boxing champion, defeated Kelsey DeSantis via split decision at PFL vs. Bellator on Saturday, coming through a submission attempt from her opponent in the first round.

The 28-year-old said afterwards while visibly emotional: “There was days in camp where I was literally in tears. I didn’t want to go back because it was so hard. It’s not easy what I’m trying to do.

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Shields says she has the PFL championship in her sights as she aims to become a two-sport champion

“I’ve been so respectful of the sport and I put in a lot of work. I’m going to go back to the gym and work harder. I almost got my arm snapped in a freaking armbar, I had to fight out of that.”

Shields’ bout was her third in MMA and first since a split-decision loss to Abigail Montes two and a half years ago, with her debut in the sport a TKO win over Brittney Elkin in June 2021.

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Sky Sports’ John Dennen and UFC’s Nathaniel Wood discuss whether or not we will see Savannah Marshall against Shields in a rematch inside an MMA cage

The American recently told Sky Sports she would “torch” Britain’s Savannah Marshall if they ever fought in MMA, with Marshall set to make her first appearance in the octagon this summer.

Shields beat Marshall via unanimous decision when the two met in a world middleweight title boxing bout in London in October 2022 and has since taken her professional record to an unblemished 14-0.

Shields added in her Sky Sports interview: “Savannah needs to understand – and the sooner she understands the better – you can’t beat me in nothing. The sooner she understands that the better we’ll all be. Just give it up.

“We can fight boxing, I’m going to win. We can fight MMA, I’m going to win. We can streetfight, I’m going to win. It doesn’t matter. We can play ping pong, I’m going to win.

“I’m just better than her at everything. She needs to understand that and I’m going to make sure whatever she wants to challenge me in, I’m better.”

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Shields sent a chilling message to rival Marshall saying that the she wouldn’t be able to beat ‘The GWOAT’ in MMA, boxing or ping pong!

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