Claressa Shields falls in MMA bout to Abigail Montes

Claressa Shields celebrates her victory over Brittney Elkin in her MMA debut. (Professional Fighters League)

Claressa Shields suffered the first loss of her professional fighting career on Wednesday, losing to Abigail Montes via split decision at the PFL’s annual championship.

The two-time Olympic gold medalist in boxing was fighting in just her second MMA bout. The loss is her first as a professional fight, having previously dropped a decision to Savannah Marshall in an Olympic boxing qualifier in 2012, when Shields was an amateur. Shields is 11-0 in her boxing career and is now 1-1 in MMA after adding the sport in 2020.

The judges were split in Wednesday’s bout, with one scoring the bout 29-28 for Shields but the other two judges scoring it 29-28 for Montes.

“I did better in there. I did pretty good on the cage,” Shields told ESPN after the bout. “It was always the ground stuff. Gotta get better at defending the takedown and stuff. The game plan was to just do better than my last fight. Of course to win [also], but do better.

“It continues to show us what we need to work on, and I worked damn hard in camp. I knew I would look better. It was the last round that did it for me. She went for the god damn takedown and I didn’t respond quick enough.”

Prior to the bout, Shields told Just Women’s Sports that she thought it would be a good matchup. She added that she couldn’t “wait to see” Montes try to out-strike her.

Shields won the first round on all three scorecards before suffering a takedown in the second and third rounds by Montes.

Previously, Shields made a successful MMA debut in June, winning with a third-round TKO against Brittney Elkin.