Shields, a two-time Olympic gold medalist and boxing world champion in three weight classes, made her highly anticipated crossover to MMA last week. She defeated Brittney Elkin at PFL 4 with a gritty third-round TKO.
But despite the impressive comeback victory, Coker isn’t convinced “T-Rex” will be as successful versus an accomplished grappler.
“Congratulations to her,” Coker told MMA Junkie at the Bellator 260 post-fight news conference. “She’s an Olympic medalist and she’s had a great world championship career in boxing. I just will say this: I think that the road gets much tougher moving forward and somebody that really has a good wrestling background and good submission game is going to be very dangerous against a pure striker.”
Coker, the founder and former CEO of the Strikeforce MMA promotion, suggested it would take a lot longer for Shields to improve her ground game to the point of being able to cope with submission artists and technical grapplers.
“It’s going to take her years to really learn the submission game and wrestling to fight somebody that has a wrestling pedigree that’s out there. It’s going to be very tough. So to me, she’ll always have a shot because she has such great striking hands. But as far as moving forward, I think as the opponents get tougher, I think she’s going to have her hands full.”
Following her debut win, Claressa Shields laid out the timeline for her return to the cage, stating she wants her second fight to take place in the next two to three months.
Despite her unbeaten boxing record (11-0) and her winning start in MMA, it’s clear Shields still has a lot to prove before she’s accepted as a new star in the sport.
Do you think Shields will prove Scott Coker wrong?