By: Hans Themistode
No matter the circumstances, Claressa Shields always managed to find a way to win. Whether she was competing on the Olympic stage or fighting for an undisputed boxing crown, or better yet, in the cage during a Mixed Martial Arts bout, Shields would always have her raised in victory.
However, in her second trip to the MMA world, Shields suffered the first defeat of her professional fighting career.
As a newly signed member of the Professional Fighters League, Shields struggled with the physicality of Brittney Elkin approximately four months ago. With defeat staring Shields squarely in the face, she bit down on her mouthpiece and scored a third-round stoppage win. While she was ecstatic with the victory, Shields couldn’t muster up any magic this time around.
Standing across the cage from Shields tonight at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida was the undefeated Abigail Montes. Despite sporting an unblemished record, Montes was viewed as the heavy underdog. Still, even with little to no public backing, the Mexican product proved her doubters wrong.
Unsurprisingly, Shields moved comfortably in the octagon on the feet. The multiple division boxing champion, blasted Montes whenever she came within range. Realizing that she was up against one of the greatest strikers in boxing history, Montes opted to stay out of the wheelhouse of Shields and began mixing things up with her clinch game.
Montes drove Shields back against the cage and attempted to drag her down to the matt in the final minute of the opening frame. Shields though, showed much-improved takedown defense as she kept things standing for the majority of the round.
A more determined Montes came out in round two, hellbent on forcing Shields to fight uncomfortably. The two grappled against the cage with Shields unable to let her hands go as she struggled with the wrestling abilities of her opponent.
Just when Montes appeared to be in control, Shields broke free and landed a smooth combination. As blood began to gush from the mouth of Montes, she rushed Shields and pulled her down to the canvas for the duration of the round.
With the third and final round closing in, both women came out aggressive as their contest appeared to be up for grabs. Unwilling to exchange leather with Shields, Montes quickly dragged the boxing star into her world. For the vast majority of the final period, Shields was forced to fight on her back. Although Montes never landed any eye-catching blows, she was the far more effective fighter.
Following 15 mostly entertaining minutes, both women embraced in the center of the octagon. They then waited patiently on the final scores to be sorted and read out loud. Shields was none too pleased as Montes managed to eke out a close split decision win. But, regardless of her recent shortcomings in the cage, Shields is set to return to the sport she’s dominated for almost a decade.
On December 11th, in Birmingham, England, Shields will put her WBC, IBF, and WBA middleweight titles on the line against Slovenia’s Ema Kozin.