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Jack Swagger had a strong win on the Fedor vs Bader Bellator MMA card

Eighteen months in the making, Jake Hager (aka Jack Swagger and Lucha Underground champion Jake Strong) made his MMA debut with Bellator on the Fedor Emelianenko vs Ryan Bader fight card.

Hager faced off against J.W. “Mad Cannons” Kiser in the bout before the semi main event. Hager seemed focused yet relaxed in the pre-fight interview immediately before his entrance. He closed with a, “Yes, sirrrrrr.”

Here is the tale of the tape. Hager was promoted as training at Dave Batista’s MMA gym.

Bellator 214 on Paramount Network

There was no mention of Hager’s Lucha Underground championship on his resume. Booooo!

I believe Kiser entered to the song, “KCMO Anthem,” by Tech N9ne, but I’m not certain. That is what the Google machine relayed after I entered a line of lyrics. Kiser was wearing a shirt that said David, in what I assume was a reference to David and Goliath.

Hager’s music began with, “Please, rise. Place your hand over you heart and say along with me, we the people.” All of a sudden, out popped R-Truth.

R-Truth rapped the entrance tune for Jack Swagger. I believe it was R-Truth’s own ditty, “That’z Endurance.”

Let’s do this! Ding, ding, ding.

Hager took to the center of the cage. He came forward, ate a punch, and secured Kiser against the fence. Hager took Kiser down around the thirty second mark. Hager got top position and worked the arm for a kimura. Kiser hit some punches to the head to break the hold. Hager readjusted and landed elbows from above. Hammer fists followed with a little ground and pound. That punishment created the opening for Hager to lock in an arm triangle.

Hager submitted Kiser at 2:09 into round number one. Hager let loose a gleeful, “We the people,” chest pound afterward.

Bellator 214 on Paramount Network

In the post-fight interview, “Big” John McCarthy framed the narrative as Hager giving up a lucrative professional wrestling career to follow his dream into MMA. Hager shouted out his people from Perry, OK. For strategy, Hager wanted to slow everything down in his mind, keep control, lay on his opponent all day, and it was a matter of time before slipping his arm in for a triangle submission. Oooohhhh, Hager plans on being in the Bellator cage a lot more. He envisions MMA being his life.

Hager’s message to Vince McMahon was, “Sometimes to convince Vince, you have to con Vince, baby.” Nice word play, Swaggie.

Hager was fairly impressive in his MMA debut. Granted, the opponent was not a true heavyweight nor on Hager’s level of wrestling. Still, I could see Hager being ready for serious competition after two or three fights. His main skill, wrestling, is very strong. That will be enough to sidle decision victories, but let’s hope he has other tricks in his fighting bag.

In the semi main event, Aaron Pico squared off against Henry Corrales. After about one minute, Pico wobbled Corrales with a huge uppercut. Twenty second later, Corrales knocked Pico out clean.

That was like whoa.

Main event time. Ryan “Darth” Vader vs “The Last Emperor” Fedor Emelianenko in the final of a heavyweight tournament. The Bellator heavyweight championship was also on the line.

Here is the tale of the tape.

Bellator 214 on Paramount Network

Bader entered to, “Paint It Black,” by The Rolling Stones. Fedor had a song that sounded reminiscent to something Pride would play. Female voices classically sang la la la, followed by dong dong dong noises, then a deep-voiced blah blah blah.

Inside the cage, the Russian national anthem played first in honor of Fedor. Craig Morgan country twanged the US national anthem. Referee Mike Beltran issued his line, “Handle your business. Let’s go.” I’m so excited.

The two danced in the center of the cage. Bader had more active feet. BOOM!

Bader landed a lead left hook to drop Fedor. One more punch sealed the deal. Wow.

Bader became champ, champ, champ at 35 seconds of round one. One of those champs is from the heavyweight tournament, so I guess it doesn’t technically count as champ, champ, champ.

In the post-fight interview, Bader praised the legend of Fedor. He said it was an honor to be in the cage competing against Fedor. Bader wants to defend both the heavyweight and light heavyweight belts in Bellator, but he has to discuss the future with Bellator president Scott Coker.

Well, that was a bittersweet bout. Bader’s knockout sure was exciting, however, Fedor is my favorite MMA fighter. I know he’s on the downside of his career, but every loss still shocks the heck out of me. This photo is not how I want to see Fedor exit the game.

Perhaps he can go out on a high note in the Japanese promotion Rizin against someone like Bob Sapp. Another fight with Cro Cop would be cool in my book, provided Fedor’s chin isn’t completely shot.

Other notes:

  • Chris Pratt was present in support of Adel Altamimi, who won via armbar submission against Brandon McMahan at 1:16 in the first round. Pratt appeared in the cage after the fight.
  • Former MMA fighter Frank Trigg was a referee. It is kind of neat to see a quality MMA talent attempt to enforce the rules. My initial mental association of Trigg is his title fight losses to Matt Hughes and being an analyst on television. He also had a stint in TNA for whatever that’s worth.
  • The arena music was an interesting choice. When I was paying attention, I believe they played Dr. Dre’s, “Still D.R.E.,” and 50 Cent’s, “In Da Club.” Those jams are certainly still bangers, but do they classify as oldies now? I figured the arena would set the mood with more recent jams. I’m currently stuck on the Ranchero music scene. Do people actually play those classic grooves every day?

What did you think of Jake Hager’s performance? What is his ceiling? Who, after Fedor, is the second greatest heavyweight MMA fighter of all time? How will you remember Fedor? Should he retire? What is your favorite Fedor moment?

Bloody Elbow

Get the full results of Bellator 214 and analysis from Bloody Elbow.

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