Mirela Vargas has the chance of a lifetime to upset the undisputed super middleweight boxing titleholder Savannah Marshall, but there’s a catch — it will be in mixed martial arts.

Vargas faces Marshall on June 8 in Marshall’s MMA debut, headlining PFL Europe 2 at Utilita Arena in Newcastle upon Tyne, England. The bout will be contested at 155 pounds, the women’s lightweight division in MMA.

Vargas, 26, holds a 1-2 record as an MMA fighter. Marshall, 33, is making her pro MMA debut but has an impressive boxing record of 13-1, with 10 KOs. Marshall last fought Franchon Crews-Dezurn in July, securing all four super middleweight titles in her first fight since her only defeat to Claressa Shields. Since then, Marshall has transitioned to MMA, following in the footsteps of her rival, Shields, who has had mixed success in the sport. A future bout between Marshall and Shields in MMA appears inevitable if both continue to win, a plan Vargas aims to disrupt.

“I feel I have the upper hand with my MMA experience,” Vargas said during a media conference call for PFL Europe. “Her fans think she can beat me with her boxing, but to be an MMA fighter, your kicks must be up to date, you need to use the cage, grapple, submit people, and do a lot more.”

Marshall acknowledged that training for MMA has been “a massive change” and that she has been preparing for nine months during the virtual conference call. Vargas believes that may not be sufficient enough time to adapt.

Vargas, however, remains an unheralded MMA fighter, possibly explaining why she is getting this opportunity. Her pro debut in 2021 ended in a 12-second knockout of Ariele Ribeiro in Brazil. Two years later, she suffered two consecutive defeats on the regional promotion Iron Man MMA to Daiane Silva, first via a rear-naked choke submission in July and then by knockout in November. Vargas hasn’t fought since her last knockout loss.

“This is proof that hard work pays off,” Vargas reflected of her opportunity.

She expressed joy and excitement about fighting on such a major card. Having fought primarily in smaller promotions, this marks her first opportunity to compete on a larger stage.

“This is something I have been planning for a long time with my former coach who just passed,” Vargas said. “It’s been a dream of mine to sign with the PFL, more so than any other promotion. I am extremely honored and ready to go to work against a worthy opponent in Savannah Marshall.”

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