Jake Hager recently spoke with Wrestlezone’s Kevin Kellam ahead of his Bellator fight in Chicago this weekend. Hager, the former Jack Swagger, said it’s a great time to be a fan and a participant in both pro wrestling and mixed martial arts.
“It feels awesome to be able to jump into Bellator, a great company that’s giving me a huge opportunity,” Hager said. “You look at what pro wrestling is doing, it’s at a peak and surge in popularity, and I think combat sports and MMA is right up there with it. It’s a great time to do both if you can, which is very rare.”
The All-American American talked about embracing his professional wrestling background in MMA, saying it not only helps him in negotiations, but also how to carry himself on television.
“I absolutely agree with that. It gives me more leverage when it comes to the negotiating table. I’m able to promote more because more stations—TV stations, radio stations—want me on instead of having to beg to get a fighter on. Being a professional wrestler and having that entertainment background definitely makes you a better MMA fighter.”
Hager added to that, saying the ‘little things’ are important, and people shouldn’t take him lightly because of his former career:
“My team joked around with me afterwards, like they’ve never seen a guy comb his hair more before a fight. It’s important! The little things are important and I’m going to embrace it. Why walk away from it? You know me as this, you know me as a pro wrestler, I’m going to embrace it and that’s who I am. I’m very proud of that, but that doesn’t mean I can’t whoop your ass.”
When speaking about his background, the subject of possible guests at ringside for his fight came up. After teasing it during interview with Fightful, R-Truth ended up playing him to the ring for his fight against JW Kizer. Hager didn’t shy away from the topic of AEW this time either, and heavily implied he would have some ‘elite’ guests at ringside with him this time around:
Jake: Those people might have a big show at the end of this month, so hopefully they can come.
Kevin: How ‘elite’ are these people?
Jake: I would say they are—‘all’ of them are elite.
Kevin: You might say that they are ‘bucking’ the system.
Jake: “Yeah, and they are ‘young’. I might say that they have a dream that they might want to kill an Attitude Era or something. This is the opportunity that pro wrestling brings, and this is the opportunity that MMA brings.
Ever since that first fight I’ve been reached out to by everyone in the world, like ‘hey will you come wrestle here?’ Now I’m in the driver’s seat and I get to choose who I get to work with. Like I’ve said, the last twelve years I got to work with some amazing people, maybe I’ll want to work with some people that will want to ‘buck’ the system in the future.”
Jake Hager faces off with TJ Jones at Bellator 221 on Saturday, May 11th at the Allstate Arena in Chicago, Illinois. Check out the full interview below: