Claressa Shields isn’t lacking confidence heading into her second professional MMA bout or when looking ahead at her future in the sport.
All seemed to be lost for Claressa Shields during her MMA debut this past June. Though Shields was able to exhibit potent striking as expected, it was the grappling bugaboo that bit the boxing champion in the first two rounds. Then, in the final stanza, Shields was able to complete a come-from-behind victory punctuated by some ferocious ground-and-pound over her opponent, Brittney Elkin.
Tomorrow night, Shields will be back at it again as she faces Abigail Montes in the 2021 PFL season finale. Montes is 2-0 as a professional, so she brings a level of experience that is commensurate with Shields’. Weeks prior to tomorrow’s clash, Shields gave an update on how her training and said experience level is progressing.
“I’ve been learning on the job, and I’ve been just getting better and better,” Shields told The Albuquerque Journal. “… I’m being taught armbars and stuff, and I’m being taught how to get out of them. They’re showing me rear naked chokes, and I’m doing really good in wrestling and getting in great positions.
“That’s stuff that used to confuse me. Now I actually feel good doing them, and that’s just giving me more confidence for the future.”
Danger: Trouble Ahead
Shields’ coach Mike Winkeljohn has praised her fast-learning abilities and even shared that the MMA newcomer has been blasting double-leg takedowns in her training at Jackson Wink MMA. The prospect of Shields adding a wrestling component to her MMA game is frightening for some, and it should be, says Shields. And that’s not the only thing her future foes should be fearful of according to the Olympian.
“If I can stop the takedown, a lot of people’s in trouble. If I can go for takedowns, people are in trouble,” Shields said in an interview with TMZ Sports earlier this month. “When I start adding those kicks to my punches, people are in trouble.”
The first person up on the list of troubletakers is Abigal Montes. And if all goes according to plan for Shields tomorrow night, she will close out the year with a 2-0 record as the then-2-1 Abigal Montes exits the Seminole Hard Rock Casino with a broken jaw.
“People keep saying Abigail’s gonna be a challenge for me and all this crazy stuff, like, she’s a decorated amateur kickboxer,” Shields said. “So even though she only has two fights in MMA, she’s been kickboxing for I don’t know how many years in Mexico. And she comes forward with a lot of punches. So we’re definitely gonna see a very, very entertaining fight. But I know I’m here to handle business, and I’m here to break Abigail’s jaw for sure.”
The 2021 PFL season finale takes place Wednesday, October 27, 2021. The main card begins at 8:00 PM ET and will be available on ESPN2 and ESPN+.