After spending almost a decade as Jack Swagger the WWE star, Jake Hager is about to embark on a whole new journey as an MMA fighter and Bellator heavyweight.
The transition into a new career came with a few surprises. Some of them were pleasant – like the unexpectedly positive effects that the intense MMA routine had on the aches and pains that his 36-year-old body accumulated over the years. But there were also the hard parts, like realizing that his training as a Division I collegiate wrestler didn’t fully prepare him for the demands of MMA.
Over the past couple of years, Hager has learned “a lot of hard lessons,” and he’d be lying if he said there weren’t moments of doubt.
“There were numerous times, numerous practices throughout the year where I had to tell myself, ‘Just keep working. Keep working hard. Stop, don’t make excuses, just keep working on it, keep practicing,” Hager told MMAjunkie.
It’s been a process, but one that Hager embraces. And as he prepares to compete in an MMA cage for the first time on Jan. 26 at Bellator 214, Hager says he isn’t nervous – only excited to begin a career path that he sees as a big risk but also “a big investment in myself.”
Hager also isn’t letting the extra attention that comes with an already established get to him, “because I know the big jump that I’m taking,” he says. But he’s also not about to let his hard-built career serve as a stepping stone for others.
“I will refuse to let anyone go in there and say that they beat Jake Hager, they beat Jack Swagger,” Hager said. “It’s just not going to happen. I’m not going to say I’m never going to lose, but I understand that, with that name, and with the benefits, comes the target. And I’m ready to handle it. I worked hard for that name, and I’m going to represent it well.”
Hager (0-0 MMA, 0-0 BMMA) discussed this and more in a chat with MMAjunkie ahead of his DAZN-streamed clash with JW Kiser (0-1 MMA, 0-0 BMMA) at The Forum in Inglewood, Calif.
Check out the full conversation inside for more on Hager’s decision to embark on a new journey, why he doesn’t want to detach Jake Hager from Jack Swagger as he moves forward in MMA, how he’s balancing his new career with an active one in pro wrestling, and the WWE presence we can expect to see at his debut later this month.
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Source: USA Today – MMA Junkie
Read the full article here: Bellator's Jake Hager on defending his WWE name in MMA, 'big investment' in himself, more