A wise man once said “to be the man you have to beat the man” and then followed it with a “Wooo.” The same applies to women in sports. To be the best you must beat the best.
Boxing and MMA are two different sports with a devout following. Both have their stars, legends, and debates on who the best is. The two sports have also been long-time rivals but some of the athletes themselves seem to enjoy watching the other while fans bicker about who and what is better.
MMA is the younger of the two sports and the flagship promoter UFC has done more for women in sports than boxing has for the last few decades. Thanks to fighters like Ronda Rousey (whether you like her or not) women, especially in North America have a chance to step into the spotlight and put it all on the line in front of millions of fans. Meanwhile, boxing is slowly breaking out of the stone age way of thinking in regards to women.
The term GWOAT (Greatest Women Of All Time) is a very debatable term. On the MMA side, there is no doubt who the greatest female Mixed Martial Artist is without a doubt and that is Amanda Nunes. Nunes has only lost twice in the UFC (4 losses total in MMA) but has not lost a fight since 2014. As her career continues she gets better and has beat several names/top fighters in the sport while holding titles in multiple divisions simultaneously. There’s no denying the claim of many that she is the GWOAT but there is someone else that can make that claim as well. That person Claressa Shields.
Shields fought 65 fights as an amateur boxer from 2010 to 2016. In that time she lost only once in 2012 to Savannah Marshal but went on to win Olympic Gold not once, but twice. Shields’s professional career began in November of 2016 and she won her first two world titles in just her fourth fight. In 2019 she became the undisputed champion for the first time with a clear victory over Christina Hammer and most recently became undisputed for a second time but in a different weight class less than one week ago while still holding all of her titles in another division. She did not lay claim to being the GWOAT after being undisputed in either of these divisions but it was long before that Shields claimed to be so.
The debate of who the GWOAT is open for interpretation. If it is for solely one sport then it is easy to say who is the best. Shields’s main focus is on boxing while Nunes fights a combination of different fighting styles which includes boxing. Shields claims that because she is a boxer and moving into competing in MMA that she is ahead of Nunes in terms of being the GWOAT.
“If people can’t say that I’m the greatest woman of all-time because I just box, they can’t say she’s that she’s the greatest woman of all-time if she just does MMA,” stated Shields on SiriusXM. “You gotta be able to do both because boxing and MMA are both combat sports. Right now, I’m ahead of the game when you talk about that because I have my first MMA match June 10th.”
What sets the two women apart for Shields? Being able to compete in both. Shields feels that Nunes could not compete with her in a boxing ring but feels that she in turn could compete with Nunes in MMA in about two years,
“But when it comes to being the greatest woman of all time, you gotta be able to do both. And that’s what I’ve come up with. But Amanda Nunes could do nothing with me in a boxing match. But the thing is, I’ll be able to do something with her, in the MMA cage, just in about two, two, and a half years because I’m learning everything so fast. You may see me and her fighting against each other because I’m only 25, and I’ll be 28 in three years, I won’t be 40.”
Both can lay claim to being the GWOAT but what will matter in the end is who they’ve faced and beaten. If they want to prove to each other who is the best they should fight each other in the other’s sport. On that note, I will leave you with this quote… “Greatness is not measured by what a man or a woman accomplishes but by the opposition he or she overcomes to reach his goals.” – Dorothy Height