It has been over fourteen months since Jack Hager (aka Jack Swagger and Lucha Underground champion Jake Strong) signed with MMA promotion Bellator. The long road included sparring with Batista before an official opponent was announced. Now, tonight is his night, bro. Hager debuts with Bellator against J.W. Kiser.
Hager tipped the scales at 238 pounds, while Kiser weighed in at 224.3 pounds.
As for fighting experience, Hager was an All-American in collegiate wrestling at Oklahoma and set a record with 30 pins during his senior season. This will be Kiser’s third professional MMA fight but his 53rd fight total. Kiser stated that he is 11-7 in sanctioned fights with 18 unsanctioned fights and 12 amateur boxing bouts from high school. Kiser plans to knock Hager out in thirty seconds. I guess that means the fight will revolve around Hager’s ability to take a punch and Kiser’s ability to stop a takedown.
Hager is the favorite and the pay rate reflects that. He will pull in a cool $50,000. Kiser is on the books for $7,000 to show and another $7,000 if he wins.
Aside from getting advice from Vince McMahon, Hager expects some WWE stars to appear. He told Fightful:
“I think there will be some WWE guys at the event, and I think R-Truth, Ron Killings will be performing at the event for me. You’re just going to have to tune in and find out!”
Hager’s wife, Catalina, seems to be hinting at such an awesome occurrence.
This will be the best MMA entrance of all time!!!!! You’re not gonna want to miss this people!— catalina hager (@CatalinaSwagger) January 24, 2019
While making the press rounds, one quote to Gareth A. Davies stuck out to me. Hager already views this as a win in life.
“But I think if you look at life, that’s how you accomplish the big things. In 2016 and 2017, I wasn’t in a good place. I’d been on the road for 12 years, I was drinking too much. I needed to get back to who I was. This was a way for me to better myself. Be better than my past myself. That was really important. I feel with all that’s happened in the last year and a half, I’ve already won.”
It is good to hear Hager’s life is back on track. Despite Hager’s positive attitude, he is not taking this fight lightly. He looks to be in great shape and never cracked a smile during weigh-ins.
My biggest question is if the California State Athletic Commission considers being inhabited by a god as a performance enhancer.
Bellator 214 will be headlined by Fedor Emelianenko vs Ryan Bader. The show airs live Saturday, January 26 at 9:00 pm ET on the Paramount Network and also DAZN.
Are you picking Hager or Kiser to win? Which round and time?