Claressa Shields' MMA career is off to a good start.
After losing the first two rounds of her MMA debut in dominant fashion, the three-division world boxing champion defeated Brittney Elkin via TKO at the 1:44 mark of the third round Thursday night.
The fight headlined PFL 4 at Ocean Casino Resort in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
Shields got on top of Elkin and unloaded right hands to the side of her head until the referee stepped in.
"I feel like I am dreaming," Shields said in her postfight interview. "This is crazy."
The 26-year-old battled through a ton of adversity in the opening two rounds. Elkin took her down and sat in full mount for an extended period of time in both frames while landing some ground-and-pound. She also attempted an armbar in the second round, but Shields escaped the submission. Shields struggled to return to her feet and was clearly down two rounds heading into the final stanza.
"Every time I sat down in the corner, I said, 'Damn, I lost another round,'" Shields said. "Then I said, 'You know what, I'm going to go out and win the second round.' Came out again, lost the second round. Came out the third round, my coach said, 'Do not get taken down.'
"She had me on the ground, but she never could hurt me. None of her punches hurt me, her trying to get me in armbars didn't hurt me, nothing."
Shields came out in the third round swinging big shots on the feet, looking for the knockout, and she did a better job of defending when Elkin shot in for a takedown. Shields eventually got into a dominant position, where she pounded out her opponent with devastating strikes for the come-from-behind victory.
"When that third round came, I said, 'I'm about to just dog her,' and I went crazy," Shields said.
Shields, who signed with the PFL in December but is not competing in the 2021 regular season, is widely regarded as the top women's pound-for-pound boxer. She is a two-time Olympic gold medalist and has won major titles in three weight classes. Shields is 11-0 as a professional boxer.
The PFL is considered North America's third-largest MMA promotion, behind the UFC and Bellator.
Elkin fell to 3-7 as a professional mixed martial artist. This was her first bout since January 2019, and she's now riding a four-fight skid. She also debuted in the PFL on Thursday.