Bellator is going to do business with a former WWE standout next year in the heavyweight division.Jake Hager, who wrestled for nine years in the WWE as “Jack Swagger,” has signed a multi-year deal with Bellator to fight in the heavyweight division, the promotion today announced. He is expected to make his promotional debut, which also will be his pro MMA debut, in 2018.
“Im excited to see Jake Hager debut for Bellator in 2018,” Bellator President Scott Coker stated. “When I heard he was seriously interested in competing in MMA, and when you look at what he did at the collegiate level, I was very interested in having him on our roster. I think Jake will expose new fans to Bellator from his previous run with WWE and he will be given every opportunity to prove that hes the real deal inside the cage.”
Hager’s heavyweight debut will come during the same year the promotion works through a recently announced grand prix tournament that will crown a new heavyweight champion at its completion, so it’s an interesting time to be a heavyweight under the Bellator banner.
Hager will turn 36 in March. The Oklahoma native wrestled collegiately at the University of Oklahoma, where he set a school record for most pins in a season with 30. But after his college career wrapped up, he signed a deal with the WWE in 2006.
“This is something Ive wanted to do for a long time,” Hager stated. “Its something thats a part of me, so it makes sense. Im very happy with the deal. Ive felt a lot of love from Bellator. I think there are certain types of guys who need to be punched in the face and taste blood. Ive always been a fan of MMA. Ive been wrestling since I was 5 years old. Its awesome to be with Bellator. Theyre really going to put 100 percent towards it.”
With the world’s biggest pro wrestling outfit, Hager held the WWE heavyweight title and an ECW title. He also was a WWE United States Champion.
As Jack Swagger, Hager spent the bulk of his time in the WWE as a heel. But he made a face turn late in his tenure. Earlier this year on an episode of Chael Sonnen’s podcast, he announced he had asked for his release from the WWE; it came a couple weeks later.
Now he’ll give professional MMA a try and almost certainly will draw comparisons to former WWE standout Phil “CM Punk” Brooks, who debuted in the UFC in 2016 to rather disastrous results. He hasn’t fought since then.For more on Bellator’s upcoming schedule, check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.