Jake Hager, who rose to the top of the WWE after being a two-sport athlete at the University of Oklahoma in football and wrestling, will make his professional MMA debut this Saturday night at Bellator 214. Hager, known in the WWE as Jack Swagger, takes on J.W. Kiser in a heavyweight contest that airs as part of the Paramount Network main card.
"I already feel like I won because of this journey," Hager said during a recent media event. "I've been able to better myself in so many ways mentally and physically. I think Saturday is just gonna be the icing on the cake. It's gonna be one of those things that I always remember in my life."
The 36-year-old Hager signed a contract with Bellator MMA in 2017 to begin his mixed martial arts career. He set the Oklahoma single-season record for pins with 30 and was an All-American at the NCAA Div. I level.
Hager also admitted that he knows "a lot of people aren't going to like me being on this card or what I get paid, but that's not my problem."
During his WWE run, Hager was a two-time world champion, holding both the WWE World Heavyweight title and the ECW belt. He was also the United States champion and won the Money in the Bank ladder match.
"A lot of pro wrestlers don't get the best receptions," Hager said. "I feel like everybody loves me. What's not to love. It's been a very positive reception. I feel like my background definitely has helped. As far as pro wrestlers, everybody from Vince McMahon to Rey Mysterio to Roman Reigns...I feel like I'm a pro fighter so to have that pro wrestling family stand by me and support me has been really, really special."
Regarding specific advice that McMahon provided, Hager revealed that McMahon said, "Don't lose."