Claressa Shields dominates in MMA debut victory
"I feel like I am dreaming, this is crazy!"
Former two-time Olympic boxing champion Claressa Shields won on her MMA debut, beating compatriot Brittney Elkin by a third-round technical knockout.
The 26-year old, who won gold for the USA at both the London 2012 and Rio 2016 Olympics, recovered from two early take-downs to eventually overcome the more experienced Elkin.
The match was part of the Professional Fighters League and took place in Atlantic City.
Along with her two Olympic golds, Shields is also the only boxer in history to hold all four major titles in boxing - WBA, WBC, IBF, and WBO - simultaneously in two weight classes.
And she's carried her skill over to MMA it would seem, as she showed great composure, endurance and accuracy to taste victory on her debut, landing 93% of her strikes during the fight according to BBC Sport.
— PFL (@PFLMMA) June 11, 2021
She had to weather some heavy punches early on but recovered well; her efficiency and consistency as she progressed were key. She eventually ending the contest with a series of strong right hands.
It was a remarkable comeback for Shields, winning by technical knockout one minute 44 seconds into the final round. After the fight, Shields said that she felt like she was "dreaming."
She said: "I feel like I'm dreaming, this is crazy!
"After seven months of training, I kept telling myself, it's going to be hard. Do not expect the easy win," Shields told reporters.
"She had me on the ground but she could never hurt me. Her punches didn't hurt me. I told myself, I may have lost the first two rounds, but I am not losing this fight.
"Coach said, 'I want to see Clarenzo' [referring to a fighting alter-ego], and when he said that, Clarenzo just came out!"
The defeat for Elkin sees her bad form continue though. She now has a record of three wins and seven losses, having lost her last four fights.
It's not too often you see athletes switch sports, at least not with huge success - McGregor, Jordan, Usain Bolt, Petr Čech - which is what makes Shield's performance so impressive. This may only be her first fight but the journey of a thousand miles begin with one single step.