Claressa Shields is the champion. She showed it for years in the boxing ring, winning gold medals at two Olympics and becoming a world champion in three divisions (twice unbeaten) in an undefeated professional career in the ring.
On Thursday night, she showed the other side of her championship by surviving rough two rounds in her MMA debut before turning the fight around in her own way. She made money WHO wins in the third round special showcases presented the fight against Brittney Elkin at PFL 4 in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
Shields is not the first professional boxer to win an MMA fight. He’s not even the first in his gym because he trains as part of the same team in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where he is home Holly Holm, a former boxing champion who went on to win the UFC Women’s Championship in the worst category. But Holm also had kickboxing pedigrees. When Shields entered JacksonWink MMA seven months ago, she was basically a blank canvas in her new sport.
Shields, the undisputed world middleweight champion and three-belt middleweight champion – and boxer No. 2 on ESPN’s women’s boxing rankings per pound – is 11-0 in the sport and now 1-0 in her new one. To achieve that victory, Shields showed the fruits of all the hours of training she did at the gym – and then defied the coaches who prepared her.
After being stripped and controlled on the canvas during most of the first two laps – but never absorbing significant damage – Shields hit a few hard blows early in the third and then spread out on the canvas in defense of the removal attempt. But Shields decided to keep the fight there, bringing damage from the highest position. “The coach kept saying,‘ If you lift her to the ground, let her get up, ’” Shields said. “But I say, ‘I’m not letting her go.’ “Then she turned to me, I pushed my hips again and kept hitting her. And then it was over.”
Let’s not get carried away with this winning debut now. Shield’s opponent, Elkin, is a relatively inexperienced fighter who came in with a 3-6 record and has not competed in MMA for more than two years. And Elkin coped with the Shields for most of the fight, gaining a full mounting position in each of the first two rounds. Shields is ongoing, but has shown she is definitely investing her job, which sets her apart from some former boxing champions who have tried out MMA. James Toney, for example, spent all 18 seconds on his feet and did not inflict a single blow on the way to being strangled in 2010 by the former UFC champion Randy Couture, who was almost 50 years old at the time.
But Shields, although far from being ready to compete with high-level MMA fighters, showed skills that need to be upgraded. Many buildings have yet to come, no doubt. But she is only 28 years old. And she has the heart of a champion.
“Listen, I’ve never doubted in my life that I won a boxing match. MMA is something like, it’s possible I could lose this first fight,” Shields said. “I don’t want to lose. I’ll try not to lose. And I did. I had an attitude that didn’t stop. … And when I heard my coaches say, ‘Let her go,’ I said to myself, ‘Damn, no . ‘”