Let’s get right to the point: If you’re reading results and highlights here on Bad Left Hook to find out how Claressa Shields did in her mixed martial arts debut? You’re probably not expecting in-depth tactical analysis of her performance. You just want to know how the two-time Olympic gold medalist and two division undisputed champ looked in her inaugural MMA bout.
And that’s fantastic, because I am nowhere near an expert in this sport. But I did watch tonight. And to my untrained eye, Shields looked raw, but showed tenacity and plenty of potential.
It didn’t look great for her through most of the fight. At the start, Shields spent less than a minute on her feet. The last four minutes of the first round saw her on the ground, fighting against holds and strikes, with Elkin largely controlling the pace and space.
Round 2 started well for Shields, with a series of heavy strikes landing on Elkin. But Shields was back on the ground again around the 1:15 mark of the round. And once again, she struggled to find her way back to her feet. Late in the round, Shields almost got caught in an armbar. She managed to pull clear, and landed a few more shots from on top in the last 15 seconds.
The work Shields put in at the end of round 2 seemed to linger into the final frame. Elkin was not fully recovered, and Shields was able to press the advantage against her, finally able to strike from on top.
She spent most of the third battering Elkin with shots to the head, until a referee stoppage at 1:44 of the round.
Shields obviously has a lot of work to do. But it’s work in a new sport, after she’s largely swept away anyone and everyone she could possibly face as a boxer. For her first fight in a whole new form, Shields gave a great account of herself. She battled through adversity, avoided or slipped multiple potential submission holds, and used her tremendous conditioning and thoroughly developed punching skill to claim victory and start her new career off right.
She’s not the Greatest MMA Woman Of All Time, but she’s certainly not embarrassing herself out there. Not every boxer that’s attempted to cross over in the past can say the same.
After the fight, Shields was ecstatic, saying “I feel like I am dreaming! This is crazy!” She’s obviously thrilled with the result, and it’ll be interesting to see how far she can go as an MMA fighter.
Co-Feature: Clay Collard vs. Joilton Lutterbach
Clay Collard was one of the few winners of Our Quarantine Year. The national treasure of the MGM Grand Bubble enjoyed a 5-0 boxing run to start 2020, including three upset wins against undefeated prospects. But after a pair of decision losses in December 2020 and February of this year, Collard decided to switch back to MMA for a while.
Collard scored an upset unanimous decision over Anthony Pettis in his first PFL fight back in April as part of PFL 2021 #1. Tonight, he navigated a tough matchup against an opponent who came in over weight, earning a split decision win.
Collard started out aggressive, got himself caught up in an unpleasant extended chokehold, somehow broke free, landed a series of savage strikes on Lutterbach, then spent the bulk of round one wrapped up on the ground.
The second round was much more vertical and strike-heavy, largely to Collard’s benefit. He landed a series of impressive blows on Lutterbach, and managed to navigate holds and cage grappling much more cleanly.
The third and final round was tough for this novice MMA analyst to interpret. Collard got taken down repeatedly. But he landed a lot of solid shots to Luttenbach’s head and neck, even from the bottom of the tie-ups. As a boxing fan, it looked like a Collard round to me.
Two out of three judges apparently agreed, and Collard took a split decision victory (29-28 x2, 28-29). He moves on to the PFL playoffs, and I salute his success.