Ex-WWE star Jake Hager on joining Bellator: 'No big reward comes without a big risk'

LOS ANGELES Recently signed Bellator heavyweight Jake Hager knows he’ll have to get used to some things as he transitions from pro wrestling to MMA like taking a real punch, a real kick and being on his back.
About that last one: Is Hager used to being on his back yet?
“Only with my wife,” he deadpanned.
All jokes aside, Hager formerly “Jack Swagger” of WWE stardom knows he has his work cut out for him and won’t pretend otherwise. But that’s exactly why he’s decided to embark on a career in MMA.
“Personally I feel very confident doing it,” Hager said. “I know it’s a big risk leaving professional wrestling and jumping over into professional fighting without an amateur background in it. But no big reward comes without a big risk. Bellator’s doing a great thing here. As soon as I started talking with them it felt like the right place to be. So, I’m excited.”
Of course, Hager isn’t the first man to try his hand at MMA after a successful career in pro wrestling. After joining the UFC in 2008, Brock Lesnar (5-3-1 MMA, 4-3-1 UFC) quickly rose to stardom before winning the UFC heavyweight title from Randy Couture and defending it twice. Lesnar retired after back-to-back losses to Cain Velasquez and Alistair Overeem, respectively, before returning four-and-a-half years to fight Mark Hunt at UFC 200.
Then there’s heavyweight Bobby Lashley (15-2 MMA, 4-0 BMMA), who remains undefeated in five Bellator appearances but hasn’t fought since Oct. 2016. While both Lesnar and Lashley have experienced success, CM Punk (0-1 MMA, 0-1 UFC) is the cautionary tale of what could go wrong, with the former WWE champion putting on a pitiful performance in his lone MMA fight, a submission loss to Mickey Gall in Sept. 2016 at UFC 203.
Comparing Hager to those men is only natural, which doesn’t seem to bother him.
“I’m OK with it,” Hager said. “I understand that I have to go out there and prove everything right. Everything is just talk. Everything is just me signing a contract right now. I have to go out there and back it up. It’s going to be exciting, and it’s going to be a lot of fun.”
“I want to fight in 2018 for sure,” he continued. “I almost want to fight twice. That’s a bold statement, but I don’t want to waste any time. I want to jump in there. I feel like I’m in good shape now. I feel like in six months, in the summertime, I’ll be ready to make a statement.”
To hear more from Hager, check out the video above.And for more on the upcoming Bellator schedule, visit the MMA Rumors section of the site.











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