5 Things You Should Know About Jake Hager

Jake Hager (as “Jack Swagger”) wrestles Tyler Breeze. Photo: Joachim Sielski / Stringer (Getty Images)

Jake Hager will attempt to follow in the footsteps of Brock Lesnar, Bobby Lashley, Dave “Batista” Bautista, Phil “CM Punk” Brooks and others when he makes the crossover leap from World Wrestling Entertainment superstar to mixed martial arts hopeful.

The 36-year-old heavyweight meets J.W. Kiser in his professional debut at Bellator 214 on Saturday at The Forum in Inglewood, California. A decorated amateur wrestler, Hager was released by the WWE in March 2017 and agreed to terms with Bellator MMA some six months later. He spent more than a decade in the WWE and continues to work as a professional wrestler for various regional organizations, including Lucha Underground Championship.

As Hager prepares to dip his toes in MMA waters for the first time, here are five things you should know about him.

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Jake Hager

Photo: Chris Ryan – Corbis / Contributor (Getty Images)

1. Small-town roots gave rise to a primetime talent.

Hager was born on March 24, 1982, in Perry, Oklahoma, a small 6.8-square-mile city in the central section of the Sooner State. Perry is also the hometown of three-time NCAA champion and 1956 Olympic silver medalist Dan Hodge — the man after whom college wrestling’s equivalent to the Heisman Trophy is named.

2. He had options.

Hager was recruited as a two-sport athlete — wrestling and football — by the University of Oklahoma. However, he shifted his focus entirely to wrestling as a sophomore and went on to earn All-America honors as a senior, setting a single-season school record for pins by a heavyweight (30).

3. He finished what he started in the classroom.

Hager graduated from Oklahoma with a bachelor’s degree in finance.

4. When professional wrestling called, he answered.

Hager joined the World Wrestling Entertainment roster as “Jack Swagger” and went on to become a one-time ECW Champion, onetime World Heavyweight Champion, one-time United States Champion and the 2010 “Money in the Bank” winner.

Jake Hager as Jack Swagger

Photo: Marc Pfitzenreuter (Getty Images)

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5. Family motivates him.

Hager married model Catalina White in 2010. They have two children: a 7-year-old son and a 3-year-old daughter.

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