There were expected miscues and missteps, but three-division boxing champion Claressa Shields made a successful crossover to mixed martial arts under the Professional Fighters League flag.
Operating out of the famed Jackson-Wink MMA camp, Shields weathered significant adversity, stayed composed and turned away Brittney Elkin with punches in the third round of their PFL 4 headliner on Thursday at the Ocean Casino Resort in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Elkin (3-7, 0-2 PFL) succumbed to blows 1:44 into Round 3, as she suffered her fourth straight defeat.
The performance was far from perfect. Elkin largely dominated the first two rounds with well-timed takedowns and positional advances. She achieved full mount in both rounds, but her failure to close the deal proved costly. Near the end of the middle stanza, Shields (1-0, 1-0 PFL) reversed position, cut loose with her hands and started to turn the tide. She sprawled out of a takedown in the third, trapped the fading Elkin beneath her and forced referee Gasper Oliver to intervene with a sustained barrage of punches to the head.
Meanwhile, Ultimate Fighting Championship veteran Clay Collard waded through considerable difficulty and edged a disruptive Joilton Lutterbach by split decision in the three-round lightweight co-main event. All three judges scored it 29-28, two of them siding with Collard (20-8, 2-0 PFL).
Lutterbach (34-10, 0-2 PFL) secured takedowns in all three rounds and nearly choked out the former Showdown Fights titleholder inside the first five minutes. Even so, he did not do enough to counteract Collard’s advantages in the striking department. “Cassius Clay” connected with occasional power punches to the head, zeroed in on the body in short but effective volleys and delivered standing body kicks to the grounded Lutterbach more than once. Collard sprawled out of multiple takedown attempts in the third round, made a pass at a kneebar and stayed active enough off his back to keep the Brazilian out of his comfort zone.
Collard, 28, has pieced together a four-fight winning streak.
Elsewhere, former Brave Combat Federation champion Bubba Jenkins leaned on a suffocating clinch, positional control and ground-and-pound, as he earned a unanimous decision over Bobby Moffett in a three-round lightweight feature. All three cageside judges scored it the same: 29-28 for Jenkins (16-4, 2-0 PFL), who finds himself on a five-fight winning streak.
The 31-year-old Moffett (13-6, 0-1 PFL) failed to keep the two-time NCAA All-American wrestler at bay through two rounds. Jenkins was surprisingly effective on the feet, closed the distance with ease and piled up points with punches at phonebooth range. Moffett made his move in the third, where he threatened his visibly weary counterpart with a ninja choke and kept his foot on the gas until the end. However, one last burst of punches and knees did not fell Jenkins along the fence, a late rally falling short for the Fight Ready representative.
Moffett has lost three fights in a row.
Finally, Dana White’s Contender Series alum Brendan Loughnane outstruck Tyler Diamond to a majority decision in a three-round lightweight showcase. Two judges struck 30-27 and 29-27 scorecards for Loughnane (21-3, 4-0 PFL), while a third ruled it a 28-28 draw.
Diamond (12-2, 1-1 PFL) absorbed copious amounts of punishment across the 15-minute scrap. Loughnane cracked him with repeated kicks to the lower leg and paired them with crisp punching combinations upstairs. He did his best work in the second round, where he nearly finished it on more than one occasion. Fatigue—and the significant damage Loughnane had suffered to his nose—stole some of his zip down the stretch and allowed Diamond to stay competitive. However, the finish he needed was never in play. Loughnane turned up the heat in the waning seconds, as he pinned the Team Alpha Male rep to the fence and unleashed with punches and knees.
The 31-year-old Loughnane has rattled off seven consecutive victories.
In other action, Natan Schulte (21-4-1, 10-1-1 PFL) eked out a split decision—28-29, 29-28, 29-28—over Alex Martinez (8-1, 1-1 PFL) in a three-round lightweight tilt; Olivier Aubin-Mercier (12-5, 1-0 PFL) took a unanimous decision from Marcin Held (27-8, 1-1 PFL) in a three-round lightweight affair, drawing 30-27 scores from all three judges; Loik Radzhabov (14-3-1, 3-3-1 PFL) put away Akhmed Aliev (20-7, 3-3 PFL) with punches 27 seconds into the first round of their lightweight encounter; Sheymon Moraes (12-5, 1-1 PFL) submitted Jesse Stirn (11-5, 0-1 PFL) with a kimura 4:59 into the second round of their featherweight clash; and Chris Wade (19-6, 7-3 PFL) cut down Arman Ospanov (11-4, 0-1 PFL) with a head kick and follow-up punches 2:18 into the second round of their featherweight pairing.