Jake Hager, NCAA All-American wrestler for the Oklahoma Sooners before becoming Jack Swagger in WWE, will be making his debut as a professional mixed martial artist at Bellator 214 in late January.
Hager will be on the card at "Bellator 214: Fedor vs. Bader" at The Forum in Inglewood, Calif. on Saturday, Jan. 26, taking on J.W. Kiser in a heavyweight (265-pound) bout.
The 41-year-old Kiser brings a 0-1 pro MMA record to what will be his Bellator debut as well. In his first pro bout, the Leavenworth, Kan. fighter lost to Antonio Martinez by TKO in 24 seconds of Round 1 in May 2018. Prior to his pro debut six months ago, Kiser had amassed a 1-3 record in amateur competition going back to April 2014.
Hager, 36, is five years younger than Kiser, with a seven-inch height advantage.
The Hager-Kiser heavyweight bout is on the same card as the finals of the Bellator Heavyweight Grand Prix, featuring the main event between Fedor Emelianenko (38-5, 1 NC) vs. current Bellator Light Heavyweight champion (and former Arizona State All-American wrestler) Ryan Bader (26-5) to determine Bellator's new Heavyweight champion.
Most MMA fans may only know Hager from his WWE career as Jack Swagger. However, Jake Hager brings impressive amateur wrestling credentials to MMA. Wrestling for the storied Perry High School wrestling program in Oklahoma, Hager was a two-time state finalist, winning the 215-pound title as a junior.
Hager then headed south to the University of Oklahoma, where he was a runner-up at the 2006 Big 12 conference championships, then earned All-America honors a couple weeks later at the 2006 NCAAs, placing seventh in the 285-pound weight class. That year, Hager set a Sooner record for the most pins in one season, with 30.
After graduating from Oklahoma in 2006, Hager launched his career in professional wrestling. He was a former WWE World Heavyweight champion and U.S. champion before being granted his release in March 2017. Hager signed with Bellator in November 2017.