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Olympic medalist, Flint native Claressa Shields makes MMA debut tonight

By DAN GELSTON

AP Sports Writer

Claressa Shields has narrowed her walkout music for her MMA debut down to three songs. She needs a tune she can dance to on the way to the cage, though the gold gladiator costume and her customary entrance theatrics will be left behind with her boxing gloves.

“I actually need to make more TikTok videos,” she said, laughing. “I dance all the time. At the gym. In between rounds of sparring. I’m always doing some kind of dancing. When I walk out and I’m dancing and singing, that’s how I feel calm. I can’t walk out all serious.”

Her mood switched inside the boxing ring. Shields was fierce, focused, and carried that Flint chip with her all the way to two Olympic gold medals and championships in three professional weight classes.

She was undefeated, unchallenged and conquered boxing as the self-proclaimed GWOAT. Yes, the Greatest Woman Of All Time.

Tonight, Shields, 26, begins another attempt at greatness — six months after she started mixed martial arts training — when she makes her pro debut in a 155-pound fight against Brittney Elkin in the Professional Fighters League.

Shields says bring on the haters who doubt her skills will translate to MMA.

“What if your MMA debut goes all wrong and you lose? How are you going to feel,” she says, mocking some reporters’ questions. “Why would you ask me something stupid like that? Who thinks about losing?”

Certainly not Shields, who went 11-0 over five years and became the fastest fighter in boxing history — male or female — to become a three-division world champion. She took time out of her boxing prime and trained with former UFC champions Jon Jones and Holly Holm, most of it in Albuquerque, New Mexico.