Claressa Shields Thanks Conor McGregor And Holly Holm
Although Claressa Shields isn’t taking part in the 2021 PFL season, she is set to make her MMA debut later this year on one of the promotion’s cards.
Shields follows in the footsteps of former boxing world champion Holly Holm, who successfully made the switch to MMA. The only difference however is that ‘T-Rex’ plans to continue competing in both sports.
The undefeated three division world boxing champion has been training with former UFC champions Jon Jones and Holm at JacksonWink MMA, and has also worked with US Olympic wrestler Adeline Gray.
The two-time Olympic gold medalist has also been posting footage of her MMA training on social media, and has been receiving advice from fans and athletes alike. Commenting on one such video of Shields training with Jones on Instagram last December, Conor McGregor shared some of his own advice.
In an interview with Betway Insider (as transcribed by The Mac Life), Shields said she really appreciated McGregor reaching out to her with his expert opinion.
“I just feel when Conor reached out, I feel like in a way he actually cared and he was wishing me good luck and that’s what I appreciated most,” Shields expressed. “He didn’t have to give me any advice, he could have just seen it and kept on but instead he was like ‘I’m going to give out this advice’, and it was great; I took it, I use it and hopefully everything goes as it’s supposed to go.”
Shields Returns The Favour
After conquering the world of MMA, McGregor made his professional boxing debut against Floyd Mayweather in 2017, but was stopped in the tenth round. He is eyeing another blockbuster boxing bout with Manny Pacquiao, but Shields believes his persistent efforts to land a boxing fight are getting in the way of his MMA prospects.
In his most recent fight against Dustin Poirier, ‘The Notorious’ was brutally TKO’d in the second round. A trilogy fight between the two is reportedly is in the works, but if McGregor is to beat Poirier in a rubber match, Shields believes that he should come out of his boxing mindset.
“Yeah, Conor can avenge it but it’s going to take some hard work. He’s been out of the MMA cage for a while, I know he had his last fight but before his last fight he’d probably been out two or three years,” Shields said. “I would say he needs to get out of the boxing mindframe to win that fight. He had his front foot too forward, too much weight on his leg, more like a boxer’s stance. It’s like he needs to get back to having light feet and [being] quick and explosive, using all his attributes, not just his punches; punches, kicks, knees, he needs to get back being creative.
“But I tell you what, it’s hard to do, it’s hard to cut off the boxing switch and cut on the MMA switch. When you’re doing both it’s hard, you have to be very mentally strong and say ‘this is MMA, everything goes’ and then you have to click that button and go to boxing and say ‘this is boxing, there are rules’ so it’s hard and I can just imagine that after being out of the cage for so long that his mind was adjusting and still looking to land those big shots.
“He probably didn’t generate it in his mind, he needs to go his mind and click on the ‘everything’ switch and use every part of the body as a weapon. I know he was boxing against Floyd but he needs to cut off the boxing switch and focus strictly on MMA for at least three or four months.”
Training With Holly Holm
With Holm’s experience making the switch between the two combat sports, she’e the perfect mentor for Shields.
“Holly just said to enjoy the process,” Shields said. “To enjoy the process, to train and to have fun. Make it my own style, you know? Holly has been super supportive. Inside the gym, outside the gym. We have Sunday dinners together, text sometimes, when I’m there, we can hang out a little bit. She’s super cool, super down to Earth. I love it.”
Although Holm left boxing behind when she transitioned to MMA, she was older than Shields is now. At only 25 years old, the Michigan native believes she has time on her side.
“Holly accomplished a whole lot in boxing, also she was older than me when she transitioned, so I think she wanted to take advantage of the time she had left,” Shields noted. “She decided to just focus on MMA. For me, I’m a lot younger, and have been boxing my whole life, so it’s not like I just can just give it up.
“I wouldn’t be alright spiritually because I love boxing so much, it’s a part of me. Holly Holm, back in her day, she did kickboxing, while it’s only been boxing for me. So it was easier to go to MMA with the fact she did kickboxing and boxing before, so she only needed to add jiu-jitsu and wrestling to her resume and she was a great MMA fighter.
“But I can definitely see why she chose to focus on one. It’s hard, but I’m a lot younger and I have maybe a lot more energy to just go for both of them. But that’s my goal: to be boxing world champion and to be an MMA world champion at the same time, that’s the overall goal.”
While Shields is expected to make her MMA debut in the PFL this summer, before then, she is set for a light middleweight unification bout against Marie-Eve Dicaire on March 5th.
How do you think Claressa Shields will fare competing in both boxing and MMA?