Undisputed super middleweight champion Savannah Marshall is about to embark on a new chapter in her combat sports career. The 10th-ranked pound-for-pound fighter, according to ESPN, recently announced that she is signing with the Professional Fighters League (PFL) with the intention of competing in mixed martial arts (MMA) alongside her boxing endeavors. This decision marks a significant shift for Marshall, who saw MMA as an avenue for growth when the opportunities in female boxing seemed limited. With her first MMA fight expected to take place in 2024, Marshall hopes that joining the PFL will propel her profile to new heights.
Marshall’s path to MMA has been years in the making. Before the rise of female MMA, she recognized the UFC’s equal treatment of men and women, especially after witnessing the opportunities given to her good friend, Molly McCann. The allure of the octagon instigated Marshall’s contemplation of making the transition from the boxing ring to the MMA cage. Although she only has limited experience in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and MMA, Marshall believes that her association with the PFL, one of the world’s premier MMA organizations, can elevate her career as never before.
From Dabbling to Immersion
In her initial foray into MMA, Marshall acknowledges that she has merely scratched the surface. Accustomed to the traditional movements and combinations in boxing, she understands that venturing into MMA demands breaking the mold and adapting to new techniques. The prospect of starting from the beginning in a second combat sport excites Marshall, as she feels a level of intrigue she has not experienced in a long while. During her training sessions with McCann and other fighters, she had her first taste of being choked out, leaving her gasping for breath. Despite the learning curve ahead, Marshall embraces the challenge and the thrill that accompanies it.
For now, Marshall’s boxing career takes precedence, with her MMA aspirations intertwining with her success in the ring. However, both sports are momentarily on hold due to an injury to her right hand. Sustained during her victory over Franchon Crews-Dezurn, which secured her the undisputed super middleweight championship, the injury required surgery. Marshall currently awaits medical clearance to resume training for both boxing and MMA, with her return anticipated in early 2023. Planning to defend her title against Shadasia Green, the number two super middleweight, Marshall acknowledges the significance of their potential clash as two formidable punching forces going head-to-head in a colossal showdown.
Rivalry on Two Fronts
While Marshall gears up for her upcoming boxing match, she is not oblivious to the possibility of a rematch with her longtime adversary Claressa Shields. The PFL’s inclusion of both Marshall and Shields opens up the potential for a monumental showdown not only in the boxing ring but also inside the cage. Marshall recognizes that the PFL’s interest in signing her stems partially from the anticipation of a clash between her and Shields, as their rivalry remains as fierce as ever. In pursuit of this long-awaited confrontation, Marshall humorously suggests that she may be chasing Shields to another sport, eager to deliver a punch or a kick to her rival’s face.
Seizing New Opportunities
For Marshall, the decision to explore a second combat sport presents an unparalleled opportunity for growth. She wholeheartedly embraces the chance to raise her profile and accepts the challenges that lie ahead. Recognizing that such a chance would have been unfathomable just a couple of years ago, Marshall eagerly anticipates what the future holds for her career.
With the boxing-MMA crossover gaining popularity, the transition of athletes like Savannah Marshall from one discipline to another is becoming increasingly prevalent. As Marshall opens this new chapter, the combat sports world awaits her foray into MMA, ready to witness her tenacious spirit and unwavering determination in a whole new arena.