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Kayla Harrison thinks Claressa Shields’ performance in her MMA debut makes it clear that fighting her would make no sense.

Shields, a two-time Olympic gold medalist in boxing and multiple time boxing champion, faced a bit of early adversity when she squared off against Brittney Elkin (3-7) in a non-regular season lightweight bout at 2021 PFL 4. She rallied to win by third-round TKO. Elkin was able to secure full mount multiple times on the ground, but Shields was eventually able to sprawl in Round 3, raining down punches until the referee stopped the fight.

While Harrison lauds Shields for showing heart in her successful MMA debut, she thinks the way the fight played out indicates that she still has ways to go.

“(She did) just a good job,” Harrison told MMA Junkie. “I know that she has talked about wanting to fight in the season next year and wanting to fight me in the future, so I don’t want to be, like, too big sister to her. I said, ‘Good job. Way to go. Watched you.’ I think we all knew that she was going to have holes. We all knew that she was going to struggle in some aspects of the game, which she did. But she’s a winner and she found a way to win, which is what winners do. So I applaud her for that.

“I think PFL’s job is a little bit tougher from this point on. Like, where do you go from here? And I think that hopefully now this whole Kayla fighting Claressa thing can be put to bed because it’s just like, it doesn’t make any sense. It would be like you guys saying, ‘Oh, Kayla should find Amanda (Nunes) after I had my first fight.’ Like, it doesn’t make any sense. No, that’s stupid. Stop.”

Shields is already booked for next MMA fight at a PFL event on Aug. 27, which will take place at Seminole Hard Rock in Hollywood, Fla. Her opponent is yet to be determined.

Meanwhile, two-time judo Olympic gold medalist and 2019 PFL women’s lightweight champion Harrison returns to action Friday when she takes on Cindy Dandois in the main event of 2021 PFL 6 at Ocean Casino Resort in Atlantic City, N.J. The main card airs on ESPN2 following prelims on ESPN+. If Harrison is victorious and advances to the playoffs, she will share the card with Shields for her next fight.


Twitter reacts to boxing champion Claressa Shields’ successful MMA debut at 2021 PFL 4