Claressa Shields made her MMA debut with the Professional Fight League on Thursday night – the first step in an intriguing extension of her legacy.
The two-time Olympic gold medalist, three-weight world champion and undisputed two-weight champion is called the “GWOAT” – the greatest woman of all time – and strongly claims to be the No. 1 in boxing feminine.
But she switches from sports to mixed martial arts to fight Brittney Elkin and recounts Air sports moving to New Mexico, an MMA hub, to train alongside UFC great Jon Jones and trailblazer Holly Holm.
Describe the first time you felt how painful MMA could be…
It happened the first time I trained. I got knocked down and thought, “Oh, this is what it feels like! “
I thought, ‘It’s not that bad.
I avoid being lowered, coming up from the cage, owning the center of the cage with my punches.
I put in the work and now things come to me more easily.
I can kick, I can kneel. I got stick for my boxing footwork for only advancing aggressively, but I still had footwork. I could step in the ring and bounce like Muhammad Ali. You will see my angles in MMA.
The girl I’m fighting is a brown jiu-jitsu belt so we don’t want to play her game, we want to play my game.
How important is it to have Holly Holm in your gym?
She’s well balanced – she can kick, wrestle, wrestle, she’s tough. I consider her to be my mentor.
I have heard Kayla Harrison call herself my mentor but it is not true. Holly is my mentor.
I discuss my sparring and have real conversations with Holly. She is the only boxer to have entered MMA and to have real success.
She has the cheat code.
Does Jon Jones give any great advice?
For four hours, we just drill. The coaches sit down and watch him teach. They say, ‘We hate breaking this but it’s been four hours!’
Jon said, “Claressa, let’s go again!
Jon shows me things and will say: ‘It will take you 30 minutes to figure this out’.
People talk about his physical qualities but he’s so technical. I can understand and understand what he teaches.
People expect you to compete against world champions …
I don’t let it add pressure. It’s cool to be compared to these girls, but Amanda Nunes, Cris Cyborg, and Kayla Harrison have been doing MMA for years.
The only thing I have on them is my boxing.
I don’t think about these girls yet.
I text Cyborg asking for advice. I’m cool with Kayla too but we fight [for Professional Fight League] so I can’t call it! We are friends but we will fight one day so we have a disconnect.
After a year in MMA, you can’t fight a world champion yet, but I’m the exception.
People want to see me fight world champions. I learn really fast and not everyone has the skills I have.
Why aren’t more boxers making this change?
I trained five times – wrestling, cage work, jiu-jitsu, I did pads with my trainer, I did kicks. It takes time to put these things together.
Your mind must understand. And you have to prepare the body – after the fight your arms are tired so you don’t want to hit.
That’s why boxers don’t come to MMA.
Savannah Marshall’s verdict
The WBO middleweight champion is on a Shields collision course inside the boxing ring …
Marshall said: It’s a good thing for her. Women’s MMA, in my opinion, is comparable to men’s MMA.
If she reaps the benefits, she may be tempted to stay in MMA.
It’s another level of fitness. She looks professional so she won’t leave anything to chance.
There are no easy fights in MMA, there are no companions or padded records. You never see an undefeated MMA champion.
She will be thrown into the deep end.