Claressa Shields is as decorated of a boxer as it comes, winning multiple championships and two Olympic gold medals all before her 25th birthday. And now, she is looking to make her mixed martial arts debut this year.
Holm, who was a professional boxer with a record of 33-2-3, and who is arguably the most successful MMA fighter to have made the switch from professional boxing, was able to speak on the transition from experience.
She says in the interview, “I think two things. I think that in order to succeed with something, you have to have big dreams. So, that’s a good thing. On the other side of it, after doing the transition, I do really know how much work it takes to learn so many other disciplines of martial arts.”
Holm speaks on Shields making her debut, “You’ve already been a pro fighter; you have to start in the pros. You don’t get to start with an amateur career and build-up and get your feet wet with it. It will be an accelerated path if you transition already from professional boxing. Your fights are going to be big steps, not little steps. It’s different.”
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Holm then speaks on specific technical aspects that a boxer can do in a boxing ring, but not in an MMA fight:
“There’s a lot of habits I had to break from boxing when I came over. That inside boxing doesn’t really work in MMA. You can’t sit there in front of people and throw those hooks and uppercuts and block, throw. They’ll just clinch on you; they’ll shoot on your legs. There’s so much going on in there you can’t get comfortable there. And even that alone is a big habit I had to break.”
The Preacher’s Daughter then calls back to her kickboxing career, and the different range it necessitates compared to boxing.
She says, “And with that being said, I even came from a kickboxing background, which is even a different range. So, I at least had some of that knowledge coming into MMA.”
Holm then gives insight on which sport, MMA or boxing, prepares an athlete better for a transition to the other:
“My biggest thing, I think, going from MMA to boxing I feel is an easier transition because you already have knowledge of boxing. Going from boxing to MMA is harder because you have no knowledge of anything else. You have to start kind of from scratch and learn everything.”
Holm has a final verdict on Shields’ potential MMA experiment:
“She’s obviously done very well for 24 and done a lot with her career and [she’s] young and with big dreams. So, you can’t count anybody out that’s young with big dreams.”
Shields has a perfect professional boxing record, going 10-0 , with her most recent victory coming via unanimous decision on Jan. 10 over Ivana Habazin to win the WBC and WBO light middleweight titles.
Shields’ MMA training is limited. And specifically, she lacks jiu-jitsu experience. But with an offer from MMA star Cris Cyborg to help train her as well as scheduled training with UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Jon Jones, Shields’ venture into MMA is something for fight fans to keep their eyes on in 2020.
Holly Holm returns to the Octagon on Jan. 18 to take on Raquel Pennington at UFC 246.