Scott Coker says one hole in Claressa Shields’ game will make things a lot tougher for her

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UNCASVILLE, Conn. – Scott Coker thinks Claressa Shields will really struggle once she faces an accomplished grappler.

Two-time Olympic gold medalist boxer and world champion Shields (1-0) made good in her MMA debut when she rallied to stop Brittney Elkin (3-7) in the third round in a non-regular season lightweight bout at at 2021 PFL 4 this past Thursday.

But Shields’ win didn’t come without adversity when she found herself trying to fight off a full mount early. Although she showed toughness and heart to turn things around, Coker says the hole in her grappling game won’t be closed over night.

“Congratulations to her,” Coker told reporters at the Bellator 260 post-fight news conference. “She’s an Olympic medalist and she’s had a great world championship career in boxing. I just will say this: I think that the road gets much tougher moving forward and somebody that really has a good wrestling background and good submission game is going to be very dangerous against a pure striker.

“It’s going to take her years to really learn the submission game and wrestling to fight somebody that has a wrestling pedigree that’s out there. It’s going to be very tough. So to me, she’ll always have a shot because she has such great striking hands. But as far as moving forward, I think as the opponents get tougher, I think she’s going to have her hands full.”

Although Shields was dominated on the ground in the first two rounds, she managed to escape taking any significant damage, and fended off an armbar attempt from Elkin. The 26-year-old, who spent her training camp at the famed Jackson Wink MMA, showed good composure for a debuting fighter and let her hands fly on every occasion she had, which ultimately led to the finish.

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