”She’s tough as hell, she’s tough as s---. She can fight,” Olympic champion boxer Claressa Shields says of Holly Holm.
Claressa Shields has only ordered one MMA fight on pay-per-view and it was last November's UFC 193 bout between Ronda Rousey and Holly Holm.
She questioned the purchase given the fact that Ronda Rousey's previous fights would be on the Internet just seconds after the referee signaled the end. Shields quickly knew the $50 was worth it as she saw the blows that Holm was landing on Rousey.
Holm was no stranger to Shields given her background as a boxer. According to BoxRec.com, Holm's boxing career stands at 33–2–3.
“I know a lot of Holly Holm background and I know a couple girls that she’s fought,” Shields said. “She actually fought at 160 so fighting Ronda Rousey at 130, she dropped 30 pounds, when she’s way stronger than Ronda Rousey, I knew that Holm could box and I knew that Ronda Rousey couldn’t. The only thing I was wondering was ‘Can Holm wrestle? Is she going to be able to get out of the arm bar?’ I think that Holly Holm did a great job and she worked her butt off.”
Shields believes the attention given to Rousey has been great for MMA and women's sports but the hype around the former UFC champion is not fully warranted. The commercials, movies and television appearances put Rousey in the spotlight while Holm ran up mountains and continually prepared for the fight with fewer people watching. The Rousey mania reached Shields as she was repeatedly asked about Rousey and who would win in a fight between the two Olympians.
“The media just picks a person, whoever they want it to be, and they give this person all this attention,” Shields said. “I’m not saying that Ronda Rousey didn’t work for it, but it’s just I’m an Olympic gold medalist. I won literally every tournament. I don’t have a medal that’s not gold and they’re talking about how she can beat me. No the hell she can’t. No she can’t. Like why would you say that? And the media’s saying she can beat any woman, so she can beat any man. What the heck? But that’s the media doing it and people really biting to the media because that’s just what people do.”
Shields sees a much different competitor in Holm than Rousey. When Rousey attempted to put Holm in an armbar and Holm countered by throwing Rousey on the ground, Shields knew it was over for the glorified champion.
“I know a girl knocked out Holly Holm and Holm fought her again,” Shields said. “Now Holm got something there that I don’t know, I’ve never experienced that. I’ve never experienced being close to knocked out but if a girl knocked me out, I’m going to take my time before I fight her again. Holly Holm called her right back out and knocked her out. The girl didn’t call Holly Holm back out and that’s when I knew, man, she’s tough as hell, she’s tough as s--t. She can fight.”
(Note: The fighter Shields is referring to is Anne Sophie Mathis, who knocked out Holm in the seventh round of a fight in 2011 with the vacant IBF female and WBAN welterweight titles on the line. Just six months later, Holm returned to take Mathis' WBF female, IBF female, and WBAN welterweight titles with a unanimous decision)
If Holm ever decided to step in the boxing ring again would she accept a challenge?
“Oh yeah,” Shields said. “Of course. Why not?”
A full Q&A with Shields will be posted on SI.com next week. Christopher Chavez contributed to this report.