Jake Hager returns to the Bellator cage this weekend and while he has already got some buzz from his appearance in All Elite Wrestling (AEW), Hager is not taking fighting in MMA lightly. During Bellator’s media day session in New York City, Hager talked about how he will handle the sport of MMA and the pro wrestling business as well as some history he has with another heavyweight in MMA that is making the switch to sports entertainment.
Speaking with MMA News, Hager said that one of the fighters he watched was Cain Velasquez. He said they actually have faced each other before either of them ventured into professional combat sports or pro wrestling when they wrestled in college. “I wrestled Cain in college so when I saw what he was doing in the UFC back in 2010, 2009 I was like, ‘Oh…okay’,” Hager said. However, when he really got the bug was when he saw an old teammate wrestle at a UFC event in Tampa, “he was fighting in the UFC, in Tampa and my wife and I went to the fight.”
Hager was signed with the WWE at the time but watching so many wrestlers compete from his college days piqued his interest, and seeing Bryce compete is when he saw an opportunity himself to follow suit. Coincidentally, Ed Ruth and Phil Davis who share the roster with Hager in Bellator were also wrestlers that made him want to make the jump into the Bellator cage.
While some fans may have forgotten, Hager is not the first and likely will not be the last to juggle pro wrestling and fighting in MMA. Ron Watermen, Ken Shamrock, Bobby Lashley and many others have gone back-and-forth between both sports and Hager says between Bellator and AEW he has earned a “black belt in time management.”
Hager talked about the lone change he’s made now that he’s sharing time with AEW and Bellator.
“It’s gonna be one of those things where it’s a constant work in progress. The only adjustment we’ve had to make is move our rest days to our travel days and really be adamant about getting your rest on those days when you can.”
Hager faces Anthony Garrett at Bellator 231 on Friday night, how do you think he will do?