PFL’s Abigail Montes empowered by upset win over Claressa Shields

Abigail Montes enters her first PFL season with plenty of momentum despite being one of the least experienced fighters on the roster.

The unbeaten 22-year-old fighter is part of the PFL women’s lightweight season set to kick off Friday night at 2022 PFL 3 in Arlington, Texas. Montes (3-0) takes on PFL and Invicta FC veteran Olena Kolesnyk on the preliminary portion of the card.

Although it’s her first season with PFL, it won’t be Montes’ first bout with the promotion as she debuted back in October. The Mexican fighter pulled off an upset victory, handing boxing world champion and two-time Olympic gold medalist Claressa Shields her first loss in MMA.

It was a massive moment for Montes’ young career and one that she’s using to fuel her run in the 2022 season.

“From that victory, that whole fight, I learned many things,” Montes told MMA Junkie in Spanish. “I think mentally, it made me very strong. I think most importantly what marked and impacted me for life was trusting myself and having the confidence that I can do it, that I can do anything.

“That right there changed my mentality and I think in this career it’s going to help me a lot – and just in life having a good mentality and believing in yourself. I was the underdog, nobody believed in me. Everyone had their doubts. But the only person that knew I could do it was me and I was able to get it done. That truly left a mark on me for the rest of my life and I learned so much.”

In the PFL women’s lightweight division, only one fighter has been champion in the two seasons the company has hosted the division. Kayla Harrison ran through the competition en route to winning two PFL titles in 2019 and 2021. She attempts a third title this year and it’s no secret she’s the favorite to win the season.

Montes is aware Harrison is talented, but she’s also not one to shy away from an underdog role.

“I feel like it’s similar to the Claressa Shields fight,” Montes said. “Everyone was rooting for her, everyone was favoring her to win, but at the end of the day, having gone through it, there’s no rival that’s superior than you.

“We’re a group of women that want the same goal. We’re all fighting for the same objective. We’re all getting ready for the same thing. We all have two legs, two arms. I don’t believe there’s a person that’s invincible. The truth is that she’s really good and I admire her a lot. She’s very talented and you can also see the dedication she has for her career. But we’re all going for the same thing, so it comes down to who wants it more. I think every girl has an opportunity to win the $1 million.”