Claressa Shields to return to PFL in 2024

On Wednesday, the Professional Fighters League (PFL) announced that two-time Olympic gold medalists and three-division boxing champion Claressa Shields will return to the PFL SmartCage with a multi-year agreement. Shields is regarded as one of the top combat sports athletes in the world.

According to PFL, Shields will return in 2024.

Shields, 28, began her MMA training in 2020 under the tutelage of Roberto Alencar. The PFL continues to bolster its roster with some of the biggest names in combat sports, including Francis Ngannou, Jake Paul, Shane Burgos, Cedric Doumbe, and Amanda Serrano.

“I am excited to return to a fighter-first organization, and I can’t wait to return to The PFL SmartCage,” said Claressa Shields. “My goal remains unchanged; I will be the first athlete to hold championships in both boxing and MMA simultaneously. I have grown so much since my first MMA fight and cannot wait to put my skills on display.”

Shields(1-1) made her PFL debut in June 2021, winning her first fight by TKO over Brittney Elkin. In her second fight in the cage, in October 2021, Shields lost to Abigail Montes by decision. 

Mayweather: ‘These other guys are just fighters, but I’m Floyd Mayweather’

Boxing legend Floyd “Money” Mayweather and RIZIN held a press conference in Las Vegas on Monday night to officially announce the Hall of Fame boxer’s next bout, which will take place in an exhibition against Japanese star and two-weight MMA champion Mikuru Asakura this September on RIZIN in Japan.

Fresh off of his induction into the International Boxing Hall of Fame this past weekend, Mayweather previewed his return to Japan on Monday alongside RIZIN CEO Nobuyuki Sakakibara and Asakura. Mayweather previously fought in Japan on New Year’s Eve 2018 in an exhibition against kickboxing star Tenshin Nasukawa.

Additional information regarding the September event will be announced later this month.

Here is what the Mayweather and Asakura had to say Monday from M Resort Spa & Casino in Las Vegas:

FLOYD MAYWEATHER, Legendary Boxing Hall of Famer

Photo/courtesy: RIZINFF

“I had so many great days competing at the highest level, but this is a great feeling now to be able to travel the world and do these exhibition bouts and have fun. My legacy is already engraved in stone. It’s great to be able to entertain people around the world and from all walks of life.

“This guy is going to come out and give his best, like every and any guy. But I’ve seen every style, so my job is just to go out there be me, have fun and do what I do best.

“Come September in Japan, we’re going to give the people what they want to see. They want to see me still competing and be entertained by Floyd Mayweather.

“I know that he believes in his skill, but no fighter that he’s ever been in the ring with is Floyd Mayweather. These other guys are just fighters, but I’m Floyd Mayweather. I’m on a different level. I’m special. Not just special, very special.

“I don’t have to watch tape on my opponents, he needs to watch me. I’m the one to watch. Everybody I face is just an opponent. It’s no different from facing Manny Pacquiao or Canelo Alvarez.”


“I’m an MMA fighter, but I’m going to use this opportunity and use Mayweather to raise my name and value internationally. I will win this fight.”

Shields believes she would embarrass Jake Paul in fight

Two-time Olympic Gold Medalist and three-division world champion Claressa Shields has done a lot in boxing and is trying to make her mark in MMA. In June, Shield made her MMA debut against Brittney Elkin, and she won via technical knockout in round three. 

On Wednesday, Shields will have her second MMA fight in the Professional Fighters League against Abigail Montes.

However, on Wednesday, Shields discussed the newest boxing sensation, Jake Paul. According to Shields, if she were to fight Jake Paul, she would embarrass him.

“Jake Paul? Please,” Shields said at a press conference on Monday. “I don’t know what world people live in that think a person that has no boxing background, a man who has not fought professionally, look, there are a lot of women in boxing that can beat up men, especially an average Joe like Jake Paul. If I was to spar Jake, which is all I would get because a real fight would be too embarrassing, right? But if we were to spar, I would use one hand – not even the banger – I’d use my (left) jab, and I could out jab and hook and uppercut him and embarrass him. That’s how skilled I am. It’s not a shot at Jake, but he’s not as good a boxer as me. If you are, go to the Olympics and medal. I’ve sparred against those guys too – Olympic Gold Medallists, Silver Medallists – I’ve sparred against all of them. Those guys would destroy Jake just like I would. I box for real – not play stuff – I box for real.”

Look, Shields is the better boxer for sure, but Paul is a man, with man strength, so I would not dismiss him. However, you could create a scenario where Shields does outbox him and do enough to win. I’m not sure if a boxing commission would sanction the fight, but skills pay bills, and in terms of skills, you do have to favor Shields.

Cyborg on fight with Smith: ‘The first fight was very fast, so I think this one is going to be a longer fight’

BELLATOR MMA and SHOWTIME Sports today announced BELLATOR MMA 259 on Friday, May 21, will be headlined by a featherweight championship rematch pitting current 145-pound titleholder and the top-ranked women’s pound-for-pound fighter Cris “Cyborg” (23-2, 1 NC) against Northern California’s Leslie Smith (12-8-1). The event airs live exclusively on SHOWTIME at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT and emanates from Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn.

In addition to the main event, two matchups are confirmed, as No. 7 lightweight Adam “The Bomb” Piccolotti (12-4) takes on No. 10 Georgi “Insane” Karakhanyan (30-11-1, 1 NC), while the undefeated No. 7 Christian “Pain” Edwards (4-0) meets Ben “Big Tuna” Parrish (4-1) in a light heavyweight contest. Additional bouts will be announced at a later date.

“I believe in five years she’s going to be a better fighter. More training, more working and fighting. More experience. The first fight was very fast, so I think this one is going to be a longer fight. She’s a warrior. She likes to fight and it’s going to be nice to fight somebody like this,” said Cyborg, who appeared on tonight’s BELLATOR 255 broadcast to confirm the event.

“Of course, I want this fight. Everyone’s goal is to get a title in the premiere organization, which this is. This is the best organization for my weight class, and the best possible place I can be. I can guarantee it will be an entertaining fight,” added Smith.

Just the second BELLATOR woman’s featherweight champion in the company’s history, Cris “Cyborg” is coming off the first defense of her BELLATOR title, a victory against Arlene Blencowe, that also marked the first submission win of her illustrious career. An MMA legend at 35-years-old, “Cyborg” will be looking to further her legacy as the greatest woman’s mixed martial artist of all-time when she faces Leslie Smith for the second time on May 21. After winning BELLATOR gold in the 12th title fight of her career, the native of Curitiba, Brazil made history by becoming a world champion in her fourth major promotion, previously holding belts in both the UFC and Strikeforce. With a pro record of 23-2, 1 NC, including 19 wins by finish, the Brazilian-born fighter who now calls Southern California home, holds victories over tough competition, including Julia Budd, Holly Holm, Marloes Coenen and Gina Carano.

Known for an exciting in-your-face striking style, Leslie “The Peacemaker” Smith will enter the BELLATOR cage on May 21 for the fifth time in her nearly 11-year MMA career. She gets a second shot at defeating “Cyborg,” following their first meeting at UFC 198 in Brazil on May 14, 2016. Since that bout, Smith has won four out of five fights with victories over Irene Aldana and Sinead Kavanagh among them. A teammate of fellow BELLATOR athlete Keri Taylor Melendez, Smith trains out of El Nino Training Center in San Francisco.

Photo: Bellator MMA

Bellator MMA unveils fighter rankings, Pitbull, Cyborg on top of list

The inaugural BELLATOR MMA™ Fighter Rankings have officially been unveiled, following the tabulation of votes submitted by a 17-member media panel.

Current BELLATOR MMA Featherweight and Lightweight World Champion Patricio “Pitbull” sits atop the men’s pound-for-pound list, while featherweight women’s titleholder Cris “Cyborg” was unanimously voted No. 1 in the women’s pound-for-pound list.

“Pitbull” takes on the No. 2-ranked featherweight Emmanuel Sanchez at BELLATOR MMA 255: Pitbull vs. Sanchez 2 this Friday, April 2, in the promotion’s first-ever event on SHOWTIME® at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT.

BELLATOR also is revealing the amount of first place votes each athlete has earned in their division. This is represented with an (*) in the below charts. Please note, champions of each weight class will be automatically assigned to the Champions slot atop the rankings and do not receive votes within their division.

Please click here to view the rankings at


1. Patricio Pitbull (31-4)

2. Vadim Nemkov (12-2)

3. Gegard Mousasi (47-7-2)

4. Ryan Bader (27-6)

5. Juan Archuleta (25-2)

6. Douglas Lima (32-8)

7. AJ McKee (17-0)

8. Phil Davis (22-5)

9. Emmanuel Sanchez (20-4)

10. Corey Anderson (14-5)


1. Cris Cyborg (23-2)

2. Juliana Velasquez (11-0)

3. Ilima-Lei Macfarlane (11-1)

4. Julia Budd (14-3)

5. Arlene Blencowe (13-8)

6. Denise Kielholtz (6-2)

7. Liz Carmouche (14-7)

8. Cat Zingano (11-4)

9. Alejandra Lara (9-3)

10. Leslie Smith (12-8-1)


C. Ryan Bader (27-6)

1. Timothy Johnson (15-6) – 13*

2. Cheick Kongo (30-11-2)

3. Valentin Moldavsky (10-1) – 3*

4. Fedor Emelianenko (39-6)

5. Linton Vassell (20-8)

6. Tyrell Fortune (9-1) – 1*

7. Steven Mowry (8-0)

8. Matt Mitrione (13-8)

9. Sergei Kharitonov (32-8)

10. Javy Ayala (11-8)


C. Vadim Nemkov (12-2)

1. Ryan Bader (27-6) – 11*

2. Phil Davis (22-5) – 2*

3. Corey Anderson (14-5) – 4*

4. Lyoto Machida (26-10)

5. Julius Anglickas (9-1)

6. Grant Neal (5-0)

7. Christian Edwards (4-0)

8. Tyree Fortune (5-0)

9. Melvin Manhoef (32-15-1)

10. Alex Polizzi (7-1)


C. Gegard Mousasi (47-7-2)

1. John Salter (18-4) – 10*

2. Anatoly Tokov (29-2) – 5*

3. Austin Vanderford (10-0) – 1*

4. Fabian Edwards (9-1)

5. Costello van Steenis (13-2)

6. Johnny Eblen (7-0)

7. Charlie Ward (9-4)

8. Mike Shipman (14-3)

9. Romero Cotton (5-0)

10. Ed Ruth (8-3)


C. Douglas Lima (32-8)

1. Michael Page (18-1) – 8*

2. Yaroslav Amosov (25-0) – 6*

3. Neiman Gracie (10-1) – 3*

4. Logan Storley (11-1)

5. Derek Anderson (17-3)

6. Jason Jackson (13-4)

7. Joey Davis (8-0)

8. Sabah Homasi (15-8)

9. Oliver Enkamp (10-2)

10. Jaleel Willis (14-2)


C. Patricio Pitbull (31-4)

1. Brent Primus (10-1) – 12*

2. Patricky Pitbull (23-9) – 3*

3. Goiti Yamauchi (25-4) – 1*

4. Benson Henderson (28-10) – 1*

5. Sidney Outlaw (15-4)

6. Myles Jury (19-5)

7. Adam Piccolotti (12-4)

8. Alfie Davis (14-3)

9. Aviv Gozali (5-0)

10. Georgi Karakhanyan (30-11-1)


C. Patricio Pitbull (31-4)

1. AJ McKee (17-0) – 13*

2. Emmanuel Sanchez (20-4) – 4*

3. Adam Borics (16-1)

4. Pedro Carvalho (11-4)

5. Daniel Weichel (40-12)

6. Aaron Pico (7-3)

7. Jay Jay Wilson (7-0)

8. Jeremy Kennedy (16-2)

9. Tywan Claxton (6-2)

10. Mads Burnell (14-3)


C. Juan Archuleta (25-2)

1. Sergio Pettis (20-5) – 10*

2. Patchy Mix (13-1) – 4*

3. Raufeon Stots (15-1) – 1*

4. James Gallagher (11-1)

5. Magomed Magomedov (17-1) – 2*

6. Leandro Higo (20-5)

7. Josh Hill (20-3)

8. Cass Bell (5-1)

9. Frans Mlambo (9-5)

10. Jornel Lugo (5-0)


C. Cris Cyborg (23-2)

1. Julia Budd (14-3) – 16*

2. Arlene Blencowe (13-8)

3. Cat Zingano (11-4)

4. Leslie Smith (12-8-1) – 1*

5. Sinead Kavanagh (7-4)

6. Janay Harding (6-4)

7. Leah McCourt (4-1)

8. Amanda Bell (7-7)

9. Olga Rubin (6-2)

10. Jessy Miele (9-5)


C. Juliana Velasquez (11-0)

1. Ilima-Lei Macfarlane (11-1) – 16*

2. Liz Carmouche (14-7)

3. Denise Kielholtz (6-2) – 1*

4. Alejandra Lara (9-3)

5. Kana Watanabe (9-0-1)

6. Kate Jackson (11-5-1)

7. Veta Arteaga (5-4)

8. Mandy Bohm (7-0)

9. Valerie Loureda (3-0)

10. Bruna Ellen (5-3)

(*) denotes first place votes received.

Bandejas-Pettis headline Bellator card on 7/24 in Connecticut

Bellator MMA returns to action for the first time since the global coronavirus pandemic began earlier this year, bringing the sports world to a standstill. Next Friday, July 24 at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn., Bellator will deliver an exciting card headlined by two of the bantamweight division’s top contenders, as Ricky Bandejas (13-3) faces Sergio Pettis (19-5) in a three-round clash on Paramount Network at 10 p.m. ET.

On March 13, Bellator made the decision to postpone that evening’s event at Mohegan Sun Arena for the health and safety of the athletes, staff and everyone involved. Keeping the health and safety of all involved as the top priority, the event on July 24 will be held without fans in attendance.

Bellator 242: Bandejas vs. Pettis airs live on Paramount Network on Friday, July 24 at 10 p.m. ET/9 p.m. CT. Preliminary action will stream on Bellator MMA’s YouTube channel at 8:45 p.m. ET/5:45 p.m. PT.

Hailing from Brick, N.J., Ricky Bandejas will return to the cage for the second time in 2020 and sixth overall since signing with Bellator MMA in 2018. Coming off an impressive KO victory over Frans Mlambo at Bellator 240, Bandejas is looking to extend his current winning streak to three and is no stranger to fighting elite competition. With nine of his 13 career wins coming by way of knockout or submission, including four in the first round of action, the heavy-handed 28-year-old will be looking to notch another highlight reel finish on July 24 and earn his shot at the 135-pound world title.

A longtime UFC-veteran, Sergio Pettis made his Bellator debut in January when he submitted Alfred Khashakyan via guillotine a mere three minutes into their bantamweight matchup at The Forum in Los Angeles. Training out of the famed Roufusport gym in Milwaukee alongside his brother, Anthony, and fellow Bellator athlete Emmanuel Sanchez, Pettis won nine of his 14 UFC appearances with victories over Joseph Benavidez, Brandon Moreno and John Moraga. Now, Pettis has his sights set on a world title fight, which is all but guaranteed with a win at Bellator 242.

The main card on Paramount Network also sees a co-main event pitting Jason Jackson (11-4) against Jordan Mein (31-12), who will be making his Bellator debut, in a welterweight contest, a 145-pound bout between the always-exciting Tywan Claxton (6-1) and undefeated Jay Jay Wilson (5-0) of New Zealand, while Aaron Pico (5-3) returns to featherweight against Chris Hatley, Jr. (8-2), who upset Bellator mainstay Gaston Bolanos earlier this year.

The preliminary portion of Bellator 242 includes a bantamweight affair featuring Roufusport’s Raufeon Stots (13-1) taking on Cass Bell (5-0) of Humboldt County, Calif., a heavyweight slugfest between Steve Mowry (7-0) and Rudy Schaffroth (6-1, 1 NC) and Logan Storley (11-0) putting his unblemished record on the line against Mark Lemminger (10-1) in a 170-pound matchup.

Bellator 242: Bandejas vs. Pettis Main Card:

Paramount Network

10 p.m. ET/9 p.m. CT

Bantamweight Main Event: Ricky Bandejas (13-3) vs. Sergio Pettis (19-5)

Welterweight Co-Main Event: Jason Jackson (11-4) vs. Jordan Mein (31-12)

Featherweight Feature Bout: Tywan Claxton (6-1) vs. Jay Jay Wilson (5-0)

Featherweight Feature Bout: Aaron Pico (5-3) vs. Chris Hatley, Jr. (8-2)

Completed Preliminary Card:

Bellator MMA’s YouTube Channel

8:45 p.m. ET/5:45 p.m. PT

Welterweight Preliminary Bout: Logan Storley (11-0) vs. Mark Lemminger (10-1)

Bantamweight Preliminary Bout: Raufeon Stots (13-1) vs. Cass Bell (5-0)

Heavyweight Preliminary Bout: Steve Mowry (7-0) vs. Rudy Schaffroth (6-1, 1 N)

Lovato Jr.: ‘I dreamed of having a long reign as champion, but sometimes life has another plan’

Following the medical complications that were publicly disclosed by Rafael Lovato Jr. (10-0) late last month, the Bellator middleweight champion has decided to relinquish his 185-pound world title. The unbeaten Lovato Jr. defeated former champ Gegard Mousasi to win the title at Bellator 223 in London on June 22, 2019.

 “My journey with my team and family to become the Bellator middleweight world champion was incredible and something I will cherish forever,” said Lovato Jr. “I dreamed of having a long reign as champion, but sometimes life has another plan. Bellator has been very supportive during this difficult process, a situation that has never really happened before in our sport. I know the division must move on while I am on the sidelines and I wish everyone great fights on their way to that belt. I will be working to come back if it is possible – and if not, life will continue to be amazing for me and I look forward to working with Bellator in another fashion.”

“This has been an incredibly challenging time for Lovato Jr., his team and his family at home,” said Bellator President Scott Coker. “He is a true warrior of the sport and I cannot say enough about him for making such a difficult decision. His health is the priority for us and we will continue to work with him on addressing the next steps in his career.”

Bellator will announce plans for the vacant middleweight title in the coming days.

Budd-Cyborg set for January 25

Bellator is set to deliver one of the most anticipated bouts in the history of women’s MMA on Saturday, January 25 at the “Fabulous” Forum in Inglewood, Calif. when reigning champ Julia Budd (13-2) defends her world featherweight title against Cris “Cyborg” (21-2, 1 NC) in the main event.

Bellator: Budd vs. Cyborg will stream live exclusively on the DAZN app at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT, while preliminary action will stream on, DAZN and globally on the Bellator Mobile App. Additional bouts will be announced in the coming weeks.

Fighting out of Port Moody, British Columbia, Canada, Budd will enter the Bellator cage in January for the fourth time since claiming the inaugural Bellator women’s featherweight world title in 2017. Currently riding a winning streak of 11 bouts, including seven straight fights since joining forces with Bellator in 2015, “The Jewel” has her eyes set on a fourth consecutive world title defense when she finally has the opportunity to challenge “Cyborg.” Since knocking off Dutch legend Marloes Coenen for the 145-pound strap at Bellator 174, the Gibson MMA-product has since collected victories over top contenders Olga Rubin, Arlene Blencowe and Talita Nogueira. With seven of her 13 career wins coming by way of knockout or submission, the former kickboxing standout will look to derail the Bellator debut of “Cyborg.”

On the heels of signing the largest contract in women’s MMA history, Cris “Cyborg” will enter the Bellator cage for the first time on January 25, with the opportunity to lay claim to Bellator gold. Just like her upcoming opponent, “Cyborg” too was an inaugural champion, winning the inaugural Strikeforce Featherweight Championship in 2009 after defeating Gina Carano. The 34-year-old Curitiba, Brazil-native’s Bellator tenure follows a three-year run in UFC,  multiple world title and a 20-fight unbeaten streak that includes notable victories against Holly Holm, Tonya Evinger, Marloes Coenen and Leslie Smith.

Cyborg signs with Bellator

Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino (21-2, 1 NC) has signed with Bellator, the organization announced today. The deal, according to Bellator, is the largest of its kind in women’s MMA history – exclusively secures “Cyborg’s” talents with a multi-year, multi-fight contract.

“Cyborg” joins current champ Julia Budd, Olga Rubin, Arlene Blencowe, Janay Harding and Leslie Smith among others, cementing Bellator’s 145-pound weight class as the strongest women’s featherweight division in MMA.

“Cyborg” joins Bellator following a three-year run in UFC, multiple world titles and a 20-fight unbeaten streak that includes notable victories against Holly Holm, Tonya Evinger, Marloes Coenen and Leslie Smith. Notably, the 34-year-old Curitiba, Brazil-native was the inaugural Strikeforce Women’s Featherweight Champion, defeating Gina Carano for the title in 2009.

“I have worked with countless athletes over my thirty-plus years of promoting combat sports, but there is no one quite like ‘Cyborg’,” Bellator President Scott Coker said. “Her ability to excite the crowd from the moment she makes her walk to the cage is special, and having had the pleasure of promoting several of her fights in the past, I am looking forward to the opportunity of promoting her once again. ‘Cyborg’ is the most dominant female fighter in the history of the sport and she will be a perfect fit here at Bellator, where champion Julia Budd and the other women that make up best female featherweight division in the world have eagerly awaited her arrival.”

Antonio Silva will battle Gabriel Gonzalez in Bare Knuckle Boxing

Former UFC stars Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva and Gabriel Gonzaga will go toe-to-toe in a Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship (BKFC) heavyweight attraction that headlines BKFC 8 on Saturday, October 19 live on pay-per-view from Florida State Fairgrounds Entertainment Hall in Tampa, Fla.

The event begins at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT and will be broadcast across the United States and Canada, exclusively on pay-per-view through MultiVision Media, Inc., on all major television distribution outlets for $29.99. It will also be available to BKFC’s international broadcast partners worldwide and via stream to all in-home and out-of-home connected devices through FITE. 

“I am very excited to have these two legends competing in the BKFC squared circle,” said BKFC Founder and President David Feldman. “They have fought and beat some of the best fighters in the world and now they will fight each other. Tampa is a great fight market and we are thrilled to be able to host another event there. The fans in Tampa love BKFC and we plan on giving them another great show.”

“It’s a great honor for me to fight for a great new company like BKFC,” said Silva. “They are doing everything right and this is a great opportunity for me to showcase my boxing. Fighting with bare knuckles is where it all started for me. I will be ready for Gonzaga, so he better be ready for me. I’m fighting for my children and nothing will stop me.”

 “I have fought everywhere in the world, in the biggest organizations, and bare knuckle is exciting, pure and it’s where it all started,” said Gonzaga. “I am excited to have the second half of my career fighting for BKFC. I have no doubt I made a great choice and BKFC will be one of the biggest promotions in the world. I can’t wait to fight ‘Bigfoot’ Silva. He is a great fighter, but I am coming ready to win.”

 Fighting out of his native Campina Grande, Paraiba, Brazil, Silva was a veteran of the UFC heavyweight division, having picked up victories over Alistair Overeem and Travis Browne, while also beating Fedor Emelianenko and Ricco Rodriguez on other MMA promotions on his way to compiling a 19-12 professional MMA record. Silva has won heavyweight titles for EliteXC, Cage Rage and Cage Warriors and has faced top fighters including Daniel Cormier, Frank Mir, Cain Velasquez and Fabricio Werdum

Originally from Rio De Janeiro, Brazil and now fighting out of Ludlow, Massachusetts, Gonzaga had a long and successful UFC run that began with wins in his first four UFC bouts. After losses to Randy Coutoure and Fabricio Werdum, Gonzaga stuck for years as a solid contender at heavyweight. He fell in bouts against Stipe Miocic, Matt Mitrione and Junior Dos Santos, but still compiled an overall MMA record of 17-12.