DETROIT – Two-time Olympic boxing champion Claressa Shields only got to spar with UFC champ Cris Cyborg once. But she was impressed by what she saw.
Cyborg and Shields first became acquainted via social media. The two knew of each other thanks to their accomplishments in their respective combat sports, but the relationship tightened during Shields’ campaign in the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
It took a while for their schedules to line up, but the two finally got to hang out in person in Los Angeles. While they only trained together once, Shields said it was a productive session.
“She learned a lot that day,” Shields said. “She’s very athletic. I mean, 1 through 10, her boxing skills are at a 7. She’s very athletic. She’s strong. And if she puts 100 percent into boxing, to actually learn it, she’s going to have an easy transition over to boxing.” (via Twitter)
Although Cyborg also gave Shields some tips that would come in handy should she consider a transition to MMA, the boxer is not really planning on putting them to use for the time being.
“I’m going to try to stick to boxing as long as I can,” Shields said. “As long as I can make a million dollars.”
Even if they didn’t share that much time on the ring, the two hit it off. After Cyborg stayed by Shields’ side in her fight with Nikki Adler back in August, Shields returned the kindness by visiting Cyborg this weekend in Detroit, where the UFC’s women’s 145-pound champ promoted her upcoming UFC 219 encounter with Holly Holm.
Outside the ring, too, Shields is all praise for Cyborg. Like many who get a chance to personally interact with the UFC champ, Shields notices the contrast between Cyborg’s warm real-life persona and the more aggressive version that we sometimes see on social media.
But, for Shields, that too is part of the game.
“I think when you’re boxing, you have an alter ego,” Shields said. “And I think her alter ego speaks. On social media, she’s Cris Cyborg, the beast. But then off social media, she’s Cris cool, laid-back, funny. Nothing really gets to her outside the ring.”
At UFC 219, Cyborg (18-1 MMA, 3-0 UFC) gets to go against an ex-boxer in former UFC bantamweight champion Holm (11-3 MMA, 4-3 UFC). But, while Shields knows Holm is a tough challenge, she believes Cyborg has the proper tools to come out on top.
“One, she’s got to catch (Holm),” Shields said. “Holly Holm is a great mover. She has a really good jab. Some head movement and then, whenever she can, slam her a couple of times, take some of the wind out of her. And then, after that, throw hands. And I think that Cris Cyborg is really good at throwing hands.
“She’s strong, she’s fast, and she’s very physical. So I think that she needs to keep it physical with Holly, not let Holly keep it pretty. And she’ll have a victorious night on Dec. 30.”
To hear from Shields, check out the video above.
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Source: USA Today – MMA Junkie
Read the full article here: Two-time Olympic champion Claressa Shields rates UFC champ Cris Cyborg's boxing a solid 7