He did so when he got a split decision win over Brandon Carlton on the preliminary card of the show from the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut.
Hager hadn’t competed inside the cage in a year as his previous outing was at Bellator 231 as his fight ended in a no contest after he kneed opponent Anthony Garrett in the groin multiple times.
Following the fight, Bellator MMA President Scott Coker praised Hager for the performance.
“I was actually impressed and I’ll tell you why: He doesn’t need to do this,” Coker told MMA Junkie. “Jake Hager does not need to be an MMA fighter fighting in the cage. This is something he wants to do. He’s still relatively young in his career, right? Because he’s only had, what? Two or three fights? Something like that. To me, I’d give him a lot of respect. He was in a fight tonight. He had to get that dog out in him and finish this fight and keep fighting because he was caught.”
Coker continued by bringing up how Hager got cut pretty bad and that he was in a dogfight. He stated that all of the people trying to give him a bad time with experience were shown what Hager is really made of.
“I was really impressed. I would give him a good report card for his effort and his performance. I would say to people, ‘Don’t be so tough.’ This guy is just a beginner. He’s only had a few fights.”
Heading into this fight, Hager had stated in interviews that he was looking to fight at least one time in 2021.
As of this writing, Hager doesn’t have a match booked for the AEW Full Gear pay-per-view event on November 7th.