Hager: This Will Be "My Biggest Test In The Cage"

Former WWE star Jake Hager discussed his life, career and upcoming fight with Anthony Garrett at Bellator 231

October 23, 2019 - 8:34 am
Jake Hager MMA Bellator

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Former WWE wrestler and current Bellator fighter Jake Hager dropped by CBS Sports Radio to discuss his life, career, and upcoming match with Anthony Garrett at Bellator 231 in Uncasville, Connecticut, on Sunday.

“To me, it was essentially getting back to my roots,” Hager said on Ferrall on the Bench, referring to his transition to MMA. “Growing up in Perry, Oklahoma, there’s not a lot going on, so we would go wrestle anywhere and anyplace we could. It really is who I am. Most people know me from wrestling and WWE as Jack Swagger, so they’re kind of surprised to see this crossover. But if you grew up with me and you know Jake Hager, they understand this is partly what I’ve done all my life.”

Hager received a scholarship to play football for Bob Stoops at Oklahoma. After winning the Rose Bowl as a freshman, though, Hager joined the wresting team.

“I just wanted to get back to wrestling,” he said. “I missed it.”

While Hager, 37, had great success in WWE, his wife Catalina White, fully supported his transition to MMA. Hager has thoroughly enjoyed working for Bellator President Scott Coker.

“It was very refreshing,” Hager said. “Coming to WWE, where they treat the talent a certain way, I really gravitated toward Bellator because you saw the trend in fighters wanting to go over there because they were getting better deals and getting more freedom with it. It was really a breath of fresh air to talk to Scott.”

Still, Hager looks back at his WWE days with a “fond heart.”

“I got to work with great people,” Hager said. “I would not be in this position with Bellator if it wasn’t for that. I have to look at that like I was very blessed to have that opportunity, I made the most of it, and I’m glad to move on.”

Hager is 2-0 in his Bellator career with wins over J.W. Kiser and T.J. Jones at Bellator 214 and Bellator 221, respectively. Garrett will be the toughest test of his career.

“I’m about 251 right now,” Hager said. “For the first few fights, I weighed in at 238, 239. I feel like I had a better fight camp for this fight. I’ve really focused on keeping the weight on because this is going to be my biggest test in the cage. Mr. Garrett is all of 265, and I know he’s going to want to be a heavyweight and get that weight on top of of me. So we wanted to add a little more junk in the trunk and not lose any speed with it.”