Boxing champion Claressa Shields made her return to mixed martial arts (MMA) last Sat. night (Feb. 24, 2024) as part of the historic PFL vs. Bellator fight card, held at Kingdom Arena in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Shields captured a split decision victory over Kelsey De Santis in a special catchweight bout at 165 pounds.

Bellator featherweight champion Cris Cyborg was critical of the promotion’s decision to move the bout from lightweight, then continued her criticism of “T-Rex” following the close call against De Santis, suggesting she “might be able to win that fight without throwing a single punch.”

“I don’t give a damn about Cris Cyborg,” Shields told at the PFL vs. Bellator media scrum. “Cris Cyborg can’t beat me in a fight. She can’t beat me in boxing. Why is she worried about my weight class and what I fought at? I’m not the only catchweight fight on the card. But Cris Cyborg is mad because she turned down a fight against Larissa Pacheco, the PFL champion, because she’s supposed to be fighting here.”

Pacheco is a two-division PFL champion who currently competes at featherweight.

“Her old self is just mad that she didn’t come here,” Shields continued. “I’m the first woman to come here and fight in Saudi Arabia. So my message to Cris Cyborg: get on my level! Get yourself a championship belt. It’s never gonna happen for you, boo. Get off my coattails and worry about yourself. That’s why you look the way you lookin’ now, stupid.”

PFL acquired Bellator MMA late last year and is expected to keep the bands separate for the foreseeable future, launching Bellator Champions Series later this year. Where “Cyborg” fits into those plans remains to be seen, but the Brazilian has been asking for a tune-up fight — citing inactivity — before facing Pacheco.

For more PFL vs. Bellator results and fallout click here.

Author: Staff

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