Jack Hager (formerly Jack Swagger of WWE) recently did an interview with the New York Post about his upcoming MMA fight at Bellator 214 against J.W. Kisner. Hager, a heavyweight, is set to step into the octagon on January 26 at 9 PM EST on the Paramount Network and the former WWE World Heavyweight Champion gave some of his thoughts about transitioning from pro wrestling to mixed martial arts and if he’s interesting in being a talent on the All Elite Wrestling roster. Quotes are below:
Jack Hager on feeling it was the right time to transition to MMA:
“A lot of factors went into it. One of the main factors was Bellator and how they treat their talent, and you could see MMA fighters gravitating toward Bellator and to their system because they do treat their talent so well. When you find a company, a great company, like that and they were so eager to work with me and work around what I was already doing (in pro wrestling). It was just a great opportunity.
“For me, the biggest thing was the ability to cross over into another sport to establish my brand in another sport is such a good opportunity. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, really. And I feel like I’ll be in the driver’s seat to be a really good pro MMA fighter and still a high-level professional wrestler because they are going to help each other across the board.”
On where his focus is right now on MMA or wrestling:
“My focus is still on both. But right now, it’s probably 70-30 towards MMA. I want to fight multiple times in 2019 for Bellator and get all the stigmas off my back. I don’t have anything to prove, but at the same time you always have something to prove.”
On how the wrestling world benefits him in MMA:
“Number one, mentally, the mental toughness. Getting in there and knowing when you need to train hard, knowing when you need to prepare yourself to go balls to the wall and really get crazy and really work on yourself. Along with that comes the honesty. Am I doing enough? Am I working on my weaknesses or am I just highlighting what I’m good at?
Another thing is, I’m used to the bright lights. The last 12 years I’ve competed on one of the biggest stages in sports entertainment where you tell me the time and place and I show up and perform at a high level.”
On what he thinks AEW will do for wrestling:
“I believe they’re gonna change the landscape of professional wrestling. I think they’re finally going to bring some competition to the big dog. I believe competition makes everybody better and I think it’s really cool. We’re in an unprecedented period of internet streams and peak in popularity on professional wrestling.”
On if he’d be interested in wrestling for AEW:
“Absolutely, you see what guys like Cody Rhodes, guys like The Young Bucks have done. Guys like Kenny Omega, who is expected to sign with them. They bring in Chris Jericho and he’s like the world, you know, universal greatest of all time.
It’s so cool to see the momentum. Honestly, I feel like it started a couple of years ago with Drew McIntyre doing such a good job on the independent scene and really showing, at least a lot of the wrestlers in WWE, that there is life outside of the WWE and that the independent scene is a viable place to make consistent money where you can provide for you family.
I absolutely would love to work with Cody and the Bucks. I invited them to the Bellator fight. So we will have to see if they show up.”
You can read the entire interview by going here.