Is Bellator’s Scott Coker interested in signing boxing champion Claressa Shields?
Based off of a tweet, one of the hottest free agents in MMA is not even from the sport. Instead, this person is from the boxing world.
Undisputed Middleweight Champion Claressa Shields recently spoke out against the boxing scene, briefly talking about an interest in leaving the sport and going to MMA. Shields (9-0) has been a true advocate for women’s rights in boxing, whether it is equal pay or equal time. Women in MMA appear to get that treatment, especially the main stars.
It begged the question if she was serious or not. When asked by BadLeftHooks.com’s Michael Woods, she confirmed the tweet was legitimate.
“Yeah, debuting September of next year,” Shields shared. “I’ve done some wrestling training, going to start my BJJ next month and learn some kicks. So next year September I’ll be ready!”
Another question was simple: who sign take the 24-year-old? Following Bellator 232, I asked Bellator President Scott Coker about Shields’ desire to join MMA. Bellator doesn’t carry her weight class (160+), but Coker would welcome any fight that makes sense.
“We really don’t have a fight for her at 160, our top weight class is 145. Coker stated. “If she wants to come down, maybe we can have her compete. If some of the girls want to go up and fight, maybe we could find something for her.”
After #Bellator232 I asked Scott Coker about signing #boxing’s Claressa Shields after she tweeted about potentially joining the #MMA world. While #BellatorMMA doesn’t carry her weight class, Coker would welcome superfights if it made sense. #WomenInSports pic.twitter.com/r7qUa4eL0o
— Daniel Yanofsky (@DanYanofsky) October 27, 2019
Bellator isn’t the only company with an eye on Shields. Dana White and the UFC are extremely interested in Shields and what she can do. There have been rumors of a Shields-Amanda Nunes bout, and Dana usually gets what he wants one way or another. Logistically, however, the weight gain/loss issue would come into play.
Bellator has fighters with the caliber of Nunes in Cris Cyborg and Julia Budd. Like he has done with atomweights and various catchweight bouts, Coker is not afraid to test the limits of”random” fights. He has been known to be very accommodating.
“It is not something in our core business to fight at 160 pounds,” Coker continued. “Just like with Keri (Melendez) and just like with Ava (Knight), if it makes sense and we can put her in some superfights, let’s do it. I’m not afraid to do that.”
Shields has had quite a 2018. The Olympic medalist went 4-0 before beating Christina Hammer this year to win the WBO and The Ring Middleweight Titles. She was set to face Ivana Habazin for the vacant WBO Junior Middleweight Title in her hometown of Flint, Michigan. It was quickly canceled just a few days before fight night when Habazin’s trainer was attacked.
It is expected Shields will face Habazin at some point before facing another high-caliber opponent. After that? Her MMA dream may eventually become a reality.
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