WATCH: Boxing Champion Claressa Shields gets a split decision victory after making it through scary Armbar attempt

In a historic moment for mixed martial arts, Claressa Shields achieved a significant milestone by securing a split decision victory over Kelsey De Santis in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

The bout marked the first professional MMA bout in the kingdom featuring two female athletes, underscoring the growing presence of women in combat sports.

Shields is an undisputed world champion in boxing across three weight classes. She displayed her versatility by adding another triumph to her MMA record, which now stands at two wins and one loss. The emotional significance of the victory was evident as Shields expressed her struggles during training, highlighting the intensity and challenges she faced leading up to the bout.

The event also symbolized progress in women’s sports in Saudi Arabia, following the precedent set by British star Ramla Ali and Dominican Republic’s Crystal Garcia Nova, who competed in the kingdom’s first female boxing match 18 months earlier. Despite ongoing debates surrounding women’s rights in the country, initiatives like these reflect incremental advancements and opportunities for female athletes on the global stage.

Shields’ victory came as part of the undercard for the Professional Fighters League’s champion versus champion event, an occasion where top talents from Bellator and PFL collide. The significance of this milestone extends beyond individual achievement, resonating with broader discussions about gender equality and representation in sports.

Acknowledging the challenges of transitioning from boxing to MMA, Shields emphasized the dedication and effort she invested in her training camp. While De Santis attempted to exploit Shields’ relative inexperience on the ground, the boxer’s striking prowess proved decisive in convincing two of the three judges ringside.

As part of a select group of boxers venturing into MMA, Shields joins the ranks of athletes like former UFC champion Holly Holm, showcasing her willingness to embrace new challenges and expand her athletic repertoire. With an undefeated record of 14 professional boxing victories, Shields remains a trailblazer in women’s combat sports and continues to inspire future generations of athletes.

In a landscape where sports intersect with societal issues, Shields’ triumph serves as a testament to perseverance, determination, and the enduring pursuit of excellence.