Claressa Shields is a champion. She has confirmed that for years within the boxing ring, successful gold medals in two Olympics and turning into a three-division world champion (twice undisputed) in an undefeated skilled in-ring profession.

On Thursday evening, she confirmed a special facet of her championship mettle by surviving a tough two rounds in her MMA debut earlier than turning the struggle her method. She earned a TKO win in the third round of a particular showcase featured bout in opposition to Brittney Elkin at PFL four in Atlantic Metropolis, New Jersey.

Shields is just not the primary skilled boxer to win an MMA bout. She’s not even the primary in her health club, as she trains as a part of the identical group in Albuquerque, New Mexico, that’s residence to Holly Holm, a former boxing champion who went on to win the UFC girls’s bantamweight championship. However Holm additionally had a kickboxing pedigree. When Shields walked into JacksonWink MMA seven months in the past, she was primarily an empty canvas in her new sport.

Shields, at present the undisputed world champion at junior middleweight and a three-belt champ at middleweight, and the No. 2 boxer within the ESPN girls’s boxing pound-for-pound rankings, is 11-Zero in that sport and now 1-Zero in her new one. To get that win, Shields confirmed off the fruits of all of the coaching hours she has put in on the health club — after which defied the coaches who had ready her.

After being taken down and managed on the canvas for a lot of the primary two rounds — however by no means absorbing vital harm — Shields landed some sturdy punches early within the third, after which sprawled on the canvas to fend off a takedown try. However Shields elected to maintain the struggle there, delivering harm from high place. “Coach stored saying, ‘For those who get her on the bottom, let her up,'” Shields stated. “However I am like, I am not letting her up. Then she turned in the direction of me, I pushed my hips down once more, and stored hitting her. After which it was over.”

Now, let’s not get carried away by this victorious debut. Shields’ opponent, Elkin, is a comparatively inexperienced fighter who got here in with a file of 3-6, not having competed in MMA in over two years. And Elkin had her method with Shields for a lot of the bout, gaining full mount place in every of the primary two rounds. Shields is a piece in progress, however she confirmed that she positively is placing within the work, which units her other than some former boxing champions who’ve tried their hand at MMA. James Toney, for instance, spent all of 18 seconds on his ft and did not land a single punch on his strategy to being choked out in 2010 by former UFC champion Randy Couture, who was practically 50 years outdated on the time.

However Shields, whereas removed from able to compete with high-level MMA fighters, confirmed off expertise which can be one thing to construct upon. There’s a whole lot of constructing nonetheless to return, little doubt. However she’s simply 28 years outdated. And he or she has the guts of a champion.

“Pay attention, I by no means doubted myself successful a boxing match in my life. MMA is one thing like, it is doable I might lose this primary struggle,” Shields stated. “I do not need to lose. I am gonna strive dang onerous to not lose. And that is what I did. I had a never-quit perspective. … And after I heard my coaches say let her up, I advised myself hell no.”

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