Boxing champ Claressa Shields transitioning over to mixed martial arts under the Professional Fighters League promotional banner is one of the biggest stories in sports, but it’s also one that her first opponent, Brittney Elkin, hopes to cut short. Elkin (3-6) revealed to Heavy that she plans on welcoming Shields (0-0) to MMA with a loss on her record, and she also revealed how she plans to do that.
“I’ll go for damage over submission. That’s just what I want. I want to hurt her…”, Elkins said.
But Elkin also knows what she doesn’t want in the fight.
“You know what I’m not very good at? Boxing, so let’s not do that,” Elkin said.
It’s a smart strategy. Shields was a two-time Olympic gold medalist in the sport, and the 26-year-old has already won world championships in the professional ranks across three different weight classes.
So Elkin knows she’ll be wise in avoiding anything that resembles a boxing match for this particular cage fight.
It means if Shields hopes to win her MMA debut, she’ll need to be prepared for multiple takedown attempts and all sorts of grappling moves at PFL 4 on June 10 on ESPN2.
“I don’t think it’s any secret. I’m very comfortable in jiu-jitsu and in wrestling. It’s what I’ve spent a lot of time on,” Elkin said.
You can watch Elkin chat about her fight below.
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Elkin Was Retired But Not Inactive
Elkin was retired for over two years when she got the call to face Shields after the popular boxer signed her three-year deal with PFL, but the MMA veteran wasn’t just sitting around doing nothing.
Elkin had stayed active in jiu-jitsu competitions and had also kept training in MMA even though she had retired from professional prizefighting.
“That’s something I’m not ever going to leave,” Elkin said.
Elkin admitted being a fan of Shields, an Olympic hero in the United States, and that she had even remarked to herself after seeing Shields sign with the PFL that she might have gotten the chance to face her if not for Elkin’s retirement.
But after coming out of retirement to accept the fight, Elkin will now get that chance.
“Seriously, when I said I was done with MMA, I was, until I wasn’t,” Elkin said.
Elkin plans on using her experience to show Shields the major differences between MMA and boxing at PFL 4 on June 10.
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Boxing Could Be Downfall for Both Stars
While Elkin knows trying to box with Shields would be her downfall, she also believes there are some things Shields does as a professional boxer that could be her own downfall inside the cage.
“I think Claressa backs into the ropes a lot for a position of advantage, and I hope that she accidentally does that in the cage,” Elkin said.
So Elkin is teeming with excitement about her opportunity to fight Shields under MMA rules. She knows Shields just started her MMA training in earnest back in January, and Elkin believes she might not quite be fully prepared for what it actually feels like inside the cage.
“I’m envisioning an exciting first round, like you just drank too much coffee, then I plan on taking her down a lot, then wearing her down, then holding her down, then beating her up in the second,” Elkin said.
Elkin is a brown belt in Brazilan jiu-jitsu, and she wants to use that knowledge plus the rest of her grappling skills to get Shields down to the ground and keep her there. Once that happens, Elkin wants to pummel the boxer.
“I’ll take the submission if it happens, but I envision that I’ll go for damage over submission. That’s just what I want. I want to hurt her so that she has a harder time recovering,” Elkin said.
Elkins Remains Unbroken After Tough Run in MMA
But if there’s any single area outside the confines of a specific skill set in MMA in which Elkin feels she might also have the advantage over Shields, it’s her toughness and resiliency.
In MMA fights to date, she’s had her teeth knocked out, her groin broken, her arm nearly torn off, another arm completely shattered, her eye just about poked out of her skull, and plenty of other horrific injuries, but she believes all those difficult experiences inside the cage in the past have helped prepare for the biggest fight of her life.
“I can get through this. I can weather the storm because this is the biggest fight of my life. I want to go to the end or be the end,” Elkin said.
Shields vs. Elkin is scheduled for three rounds inside Ocean Casino Resort in Atlantic City, New Jersey. It’s a stand-alone bout and not part of the PFL’s 2021 regular-season tournament. The fight will be televised as the showcase match of PFL 4 on ESPN2.
PFL 4: Shields vs. Elkin on June 10
Most of the eyes that tune into the fight will be doing so to watch Shields try her hand at MMA for the first time. Shields is one of the most popular names in combats sports, and she’s incredibly confident heading into her first MMA bout.
“The PFL fans can expect me to go out there and be just as great as I am at boxing and have that same confidence. I’m a fighter at heart, I’m not gonna just go in there and bow down to Brittney,” Shields said.
But Elkin is just as sure of herself, too. More than that, she has worlds of experience, nothing to lose, and everything to gain. That could make her dangerous.
“She’s very confident. I hope that confidence leads her into my game,” Elkin said.
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