Jake Hager On WWE Preparing Him For MMA, Having Support From His Pro Wrestling Peers

Jake Hager recently spoke with Wrestlezone’s Kevin Kellam ahead of his Bellator fight in Chicago this weekend. Hager, the former Jack Swagger, will face off with TJ Jones on Saturday night’s card.

Hager talked about his first professional fight against JW Kizer, saying his background in WWE prepared him to be comfortable and very calm in front of a live audience. Hager says money is a motivating factor for fighting, but he does feel like he can take things to a new level if he continues to be a mainstay in MMA:

“I was very calm that night, my team did give me a ton of credit afterwards for the fact that I didn’t need a lot of pep talks and I was just ready to go. I rely on my amateur background a lot, but I also rely on having twelve years of live television experience. It was a little surprising, I thought that I would be thinking about people watching me like [critiquing me] ‘oh, how’d that jab look?’ but I was very focused in on my opponent. Money is a great motivator for anyone, so I go out there and get that money, but it really is something that I’m excited about because this is something that can really transcend into something much bigger if I continue.”

After Hager beat Kizer, he says the response from his pro wrestling brethren was humbling and very much appreciated. He says they didn’t always see eye-to-eye, but their support was very heartwarming:

“Man, I just got goosebumps when you said that. It was really humbling, and I think it really shows that I have been able to work with some really good people over the last twelve years. To see the outpouring of respect from the pro wrestling fans was awesome, but to see these guys that I’ve worked with—that I’ve not always got along with, but we always worked together and found ways to help each other—to see them come out and stand up for me was really cool and really special. It definitely hit me really hard, right in the heart. It’s very cool when you get to do a job like that, and sometimes you lose sight of what you’re doing and who you’re doing it with. It’s easy to do, but to have that, it was so humbling, and I’ll forever be grateful to those guys.”

Jake Hager faces off with TJ Jones at Bellator 221 tonight at the Allstate Arena in Chicago, Illinois. Check out the full interview below:

Related: Jake Hager On His Motivation For Saturday’s Bellator Fight: ‘I Have Permission To Hurt This Guy’