Claressa Shields enters unproven MMA territory with terrifying expectations

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Winning a few Olympic gold medals in boxing will do that. Ditto, to become a three weight division champion, the undisputed middle and light middleweight title holder, and probably the tallest woman in boxing history – the self-titled tallest woman of all time, also known as the GWOAT. All at the age of 26, no less.

With references like hers, there are great expectations ahead of her mixed martial arts debut when she transitioned into a sport for which she officially started training only six months ago started. Headlining the unannounced Brittney Elkin for Thursday’s PFL 4 event at the Ocean Casino Resort in Atlantic City, N.J., which airs on ESPN2, she understands why so many expect great things from her. But she doesn’t feel the need to go out there and make a highlight reel win. A 1-0 MMA mark as soon as it leaves the Jersey Shore is enough.

« I made a decision early on when I chose MMA, I wouldn’t put myself under the pressure like I would when doing boxing because it’s so new, ”Shields recently told the post about Zoom. “And I know that everyone expects me to go out and, I don’t know, be that super spectacular MMA fighter, but that’s not possible. I think for myself it’s just my first « W » at the moment and then it goes from there. « 

The fight with Elkin (3-6, 1 finish) is more about Shields the Chance has to apply all of the skills she has added to her incomparable fistfight since beginning her apprenticeship at the acclaimed Jackson Wink MMA Academy in Albuquerque, NM. Mich., A native to train in the same room and from the former UFC -Champions Jon Jones and Holly Holm, who is a former boxer herself who has crossed successfully.

This was done by boxing champion Shields (11-0, 2 KOs in the ring), who found time, four weeks in particular training well outside of her comfort zone for her championship win over Marie-Eve Dicaire in March. Training kicks essentially never came into the equation. Grappling and Brazilian jiu-jitsu? Forget it. Who needed those when the only weapons needed were a pair of gloved fists were ?

But as much as grappling was a different challenge to get used to, Shields says she had the most fun immersing herself in this element of the sport of her MMA journey so far.

« When I started to understand, I was enjoying the jiu-jitsu and really enjoying the wrestling, » said Shields. “Wrestling is… because I’m a strong girl, but it’s muscles I’ve never used. Now I use those muscles and I see, ‘Oh, I have strong hips and I have a strong back and I have a strong feeling for it when I clinch you inside.’ If I want to hold you, I can hold you there because I know the handles and how to use body weight and so on. ”

Shields credits that grew up in Flint for a little informal base. This included fighting her four siblings who she claims could never beat them as children.

“I was a tomboy. I always wrestled with the guys who were on the wrestling team, ”she said, underlining the look into her youth with a laugh. « I never wrestled, but since I was only friends with them, I needed to know a little bit so they wouldn’t throw me around too much. »

Good wrestling and jiu-jitsu would probably come in handy against Elkin, who competes in grappling in addition to MMA. Shields’ first opponent also welcomed current PFL lead actress Kayla Harrison to the sport three years ago. Two-time gold medalist Harrison, a longtime friend of Shields who dates back to her days as dominant Olympians for Team USA, relied heavily on her grappling base to neutralize Elkin in less than 3½ minutes.

It is Easy for most to write off Elkin for the Harrison fight as fodder for building shields, but the style contrast in this classic striker-versus-grapple scenario makes it less of a lamb-and-slaughter battle than it may seem. And Shields doesn’t look past her opponent in any way, although she appreciates what it means for people to expect great things from the newcomer to MMA.

« I hate people calling me like that maintain a high standard, but that’s where I put myself, ”adds Shields. “I also stick to a high standard, just not too high a standard when it comes to MMA because I know that the time and work haven’t invested for me yet. Now I’ve put a lot of work into the past seven months, but it’s still only seven months and it’s five different arts. ”

Win or lose, Shields knows she needs time to progress in her training to be ready to compete for the PFL in a regular women’s lightweight season, be it next year or 2023. She is discussing with the league about a possible second MMA bout in August when the league holds its playoff events, but also plans has to compete in the ring towards the end of the year.

But even now the confident Shields believe that there are many women in this year’s 10-women field who are beatable. She was in Atlantic City last month when the 155 pounders competed against each other, hampering 2019 PFL champion Harrison and runner-up Larissa Pacheco as the two runaway top twos. As for the other eight women, let’s just say there was a hungry twinkle in the eyes of the woman nicknamed « T-Rex » at the prospect of facing many of them, even at their current stage in MMA development .

Does that mean she’s already banned for the 2022 season? Not clear. This decision is made with great dedication from their coaches Greg Jackson and Mike Winkeljohn.

« It’s not about beating a few, it’s about being able to beat everyone, » said Shields of the right time to be in one To start the season. “Me and my coaches will look at all the girls I could possibly fight that are in season next year and we will look at each of them individually.

“And when we feel like I can beat everyone, let’s go. But if they feel like, ‘Hey, we have to work on it [or] we have to work on it before we go into the season, I’ll respect whatever they say because they know MMA better than me, regardless of whether I really want it. « 

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Claressa Shields enters unproven MMA territory with terrifying expectations

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