Former WWE star Jack Swagger, real name Jake Hager, will be making his MMA debut next month for Bellator. Hager will be fighting J.W. Kiser, an 0-1 fighter who will be making his Bellator debut. The bout is set for Bellator 214, taking place Jan. 26 at The Forum in Inglewood, CA. Hager made the announcement on Ariel Helwani’s ESPN talk show.
Hager announced late last year that he was making the transition from professional wrestling to MMA. He last appeared for WWE in October of 2016 and was granted his release from the promotion in early 2017. He was, for a time, a well positioned performer for WWE, winning the Money in the Bank match at Wrestlemania XXVI in 2010 and cashing in his contract for a world title match a few weeks later, defeating Chris Jericho for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship on an episode of Smackdown. Hager eventually fell out of favor with the promotion, and was never heavily featured in the ensuing years.
Unlike WWE’s most recent defector to MMA, CM Punk, Hager has a skill set he can apply to MMA. Hager is a 2006 collegiate All-American while wrestling for the University of Oklahoma.
Also unlike Punk, Hager will be given a first opponent that he should be able to compete with. Kiser’s first pro MMA appearance was a May, 2018 TKO loss to Antonio Martinez that lasted only 24 seconds. Kiser just fought this past weekend picking up his first win.
Bellator 214 will be headlined by the heavyweight championship fight between Ryan Bader and Fedor Emelianenko.