Jake Hager – Potential or Publicity?
Those looking at the main card for Bellator 214, headlined by the legendary Fedor Emelianenko vs Ryan Bader in the final of the heavyweight grand prix, may wonder why an 0-0 fighter is so far up the bill.
Despite never having competed in the field of Mixed Martial Arts before, Jake Hager may well be the highest profile competitor on the main card this weekend. Hager may not be a name known to the masses but his alter ego ‘Jack Swagger’ has amassed 958,000 social media follows during his stint in the WWE.
After signing a contract with the world’s biggest wrestling organisation, with extreme talent on the microphone, he became a huge heal and a character fans loved to hate. In the WWE he would have an extremely decorated career, picking up the ECW and World Heavyweight championships alongside winning the Money in the Bank ladder match.
After surrendering his heavyweight title to Rey Mysterio, despite claiming the United States Championship, he would never pick up another world title which angered Hager. In March 2017, after an initial request to terminate his contract was rejected, Hager eventually got what he wanted.
After wrestling on smaller promotions such as 5 Star wrestling and Lucha Underground, on 13th November 2017 he would announce that he would be crossing over to the sport of MMA and that he had signed with the Bellator promotion.
This has raised several sceptics who view wrestling as scripted and therefore perceive Hager’s venture as unrealistic. This can be supported by the unsuccessful career CM Punk has had in the UFC. However, Hager is more comparable to former UFC world champion Brock Lesnar.
Not only is Hager an athletic specimen standing at six foot seven inches tall and weighing two hundred and thirty eight pounds he also has a rich history in martial arts. After starting the sport of wrestling at just five years of age, he would excel in the field and during his high school years he was ranked 5th best in the country at 215 pounds by Wrestling USA. Shortly after he would join the Junior National USA team. After leaving high school Hager continued pursuing the sport and continued to compete at Oklahoma university, where he became an all American American and finished seventh in the NCAA championships.
Taking his credentials into account, it seems that this is not a publicity stunt with the aim of expanding his profile but is more likely to be a serious endeavor. Looking at the evidence presented, it seems Hager has all the ability to make a real run at this sport. This will likely generate controversy due to those who aren’t overly keen on his past career, but in all likelihood, Hager who debuts against J W Kiser might be around for the long haul and who’s to say exactly how far he will go.