Claressa Shields could master MMA at a ‘rapid rate’ as she’s already got the mind of a warrior, PFL stablemate Clay Collard says

Claressa Shields signing PFL contract

  • Claressa Shields could master mixed martial arts at a "rapid rate" as she's already got the mind of a warrior, her PFL stablemate Clay Collard told Insider.
  • A former UFC athlete, Collard — a striker — has competed in six boxing matches but will make his PFL debut when the new season begins in April 2021.
  • Shields will fight twice for the PFL away from its regular season format, and as she will be transitioning from championship boxing to MMA, Collard offered advice for which skills she should look to upgrade.
  • Rather than drill aggressive wrestling techniques and seek submissions, Collard said Shields could do what he does — takedown defense and anti jiu jitsu — before looking to take the fight back to the feet.
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Boxer Claressa Shields could master mixed martial arts at a "rapid rate" as she's already got the mind of a warrior.

That's according to her Professional Fighters League (PFL) stablemate Clay Collard, who told Insider last week that there's a number of things Shields can do to become a well-rounded fighter in a short period of time.

Collard, like Shields, is a striker by trade — he's even competed in six boxing matches this year as a way to stay busy after the PFL postponed its 2020 season because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The New York-based MMA firm returns to operations with its 2021 season from April.

Collard will compete in the lightweight division, while Shields is expected to fight two bouts as she transitions to MMA from boxing — where she is a three-weight world champion and a former two-time Olympic gold medalist.

"I'm excited to see what she can do," Collard told us.

"More MMA fighters go into boxing than boxers go into MMA, so it's going to be really cool to see what she does and if she can be well-rounded."

Collard said Shields' biggest challenge will be to get up from the ground after she's been taken down, and stopping submissions.

"People are going to try and take her down," he said. "If they don't, I don't think they're very smart. But when you have that mind of a fighter, whether it's boxing or mixed martial arts, you're going to be able to learn at a very rapid rate.

"I'm sure she's taking it very serious and putting the work in and I'm excited to see what she's going to do in the cage."

Considering Shields is already 25, and could go on to compete in the 2022 PFL season, Insider asked Collard whether the American boxer would be better off getting to grips with takedown defense and anti jiu jitsu, as opposed to aggressive wrestling and seeking submissions.

"That's what I would say … it's all about the anti," Collard said. "Anti jiu jitsu is one thing my coaches are really big on because I'm a striker.

"I'm still a white belt, I've never tested, but I've been training jiu jitsu since I was 18 years old. His big thing is anti. Anti jiu jitsu, anti submissions.

"Getting back up to the feet, and working back up to the feet, because that's where I want to take the fight.

"So I would say defense, defense, defense on the ground, and work back up and get to where you're comfortable."

Shields has an unbeaten pro boxing record of 10 wins (two knockouts and eight decisions).

She will compete in pro boxing and in pro MMA in 2021.

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