You’ve probably already seen pictures and videos of UFC superstar Jon Jones helping three-division world boxing champion Claressa Shields prepare to make her MMA debut later this year under the PFL’s promotional banner. But Shields revealed to Heavy just how involved MMA’s best pound-for-pound fighter has actually been in helping her make the jump over to the sport.
“Jonny Bones…he doesn’t just come in and give me a few directions. We spend three to four hours [training]. It’s legit. We actually drill and train,” Shields said.
Shields Making Jump to MMA
Shields, 25, from Flint, Michigan, is a two-time Olympic gold medalist in boxing, and she’s already one of the most decorated professional women’s boxing champions in history.
But Shields signed a three-year deal with PFL in December 2020 intending to win a world championship in MMA, so the fighter has been consumed with her MMA training over the last two months at the world-famous Jackson Wink Academy in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
“I’m just so thankful. I feel like God always puts me somewhere where I have no business being…then all of a sudden, he just starts bringing people in my life who are there to help me improve,” Shields said.
Those people include famed MMA coaches Greg Jackson and Mike Winkeljohn, and Shields is also soaking up all the knowledge and experience she can from training partners like Jones and Holly Holm.
Shields Surrounded By Greatness at Jackson Wink
Both Jones and Holm are former UFC champions, and both superstars remain entrenched at the top of their professions.
Jones vacated his light heavyweight crown last year to pursue gold in the UFC’s heavyweight division. Moreover, Jones is considered by many to be the best and most decorated MMA fighter in history.
Meanwhile, Holm is a former UFC women’s bantamweight champion, and the 39-year-old remains ranked today among the elite and most popular fighters in the sport. Additionally, Holm is the only boxing champion in history to also win an MMA world championship.
That’s something Shields hopes to do, too.
“That’s the plan,” Shields said.
All that extra help and motivation from such notable and accomplished figures in the sport is something that should only help Shields in her pursuit of MMA gold.
“I think in June, I’ll be super ready for my MMA debut,” Shields said.
A Remarkable Decision and a Compelling Story
Just about everything Shields has done since announcing her intention of transitioning over to MMA has seemed like the right move.
Shields has immersed herself in training at a gym known for producing world champions at the highest levels of the sport.
All she’s doing right now in New Mexico is living the life of a fully committed and serious MMA athlete. She eats, sleeps, and trains at Jackson Wink under the watchful guidance of what seems like the perfect team around her.
Shields made a remarkable decision in moving over to MMA in the midst of her prime years as a boxing champion, and her story should only get more interesting as it continues to develop.
YouTube: Real Talk with Kelsey and Rachel