We had the opportunity to speak to Jake Hager aka Jack Swagger aka Jake Strong and get his thoughts on starting his new career in MMA ahead of his first fight at Bellator 214 this Saturday.
Hager says he got the MMA bug in 2013 when he attended an MMA event live. Bellator accommodated his independent wrestling dates well, allowing Hager the opportunity to earn a living while also training for his MMA debut.
Hager’s opponent, JW Kiser has only two professional fights – one win and one loss in 2018 for the KC Fighting Alliance promotion. Both fights ended via first-round stoppage. Kiser says he’s a fan of Hager’s. Hager says training for MMA was much more difficult than pro wrestling but he also thinks training for MMA will make him a better professional wrestler down the line.
Hager has wrestled since he was a very young child. As a former Collegiate All-American and former WWE star, the bright lights and big stage of Bellator won’t be an issue for Hager, who has seen it all during his career.
Hager described his new career with a t-shirt worthy one-liner.
“I’m a jab guy now, not a job guy.”
Hager means that quite literally. At 6’7″, Hager will have a significant reach advantage over Hager and many of his future opponents. The closest a notable Bellator heavyweight can come to matching Hager’s height is 6’4″ Cheick Kongo, an opponent that Hager acknowledged may be in his near future.
He knows that entering the world of mixed martial arts at the age of 36 is a little late but he had this to say on last week’s media conference call, “Yes I’m Late to the party but you’re going to find out that I am the party.”
When it comes to another WWE performer turned MMA fighter, Brock Lesnar, Hager acknowledged their similarities saying, “We both have big teeth and no necks.”
Hager is keenly aware of the comparisons between himself and the former UFC champion but to Hager, those comparisons stop after wrestling pasts.
“Brock raised the bar but I have better hands,” he said. “That’s something people will be surprised about most.”
Jake Hager says he belongs on the main card and soon, the main event, “People aren’t gonna like it; enough said.”
The man is here to get paid, the man is here for opportunity, the man is here to stay.
That’s all you need to know about Jake Hager and his venture into MMA.