As noted earlier, Jake Hager (aka Jack Swagger), has signed with Bellator MMA. Bellator issued the following press release:
JAKE HAGER, FORMERLY KNOWN AS WWE'S JACK SWAGGER, SIGNS EXCLUSIVE MULTI-YEAR DEAL WITH BELLATOR MMA
LOS ANGELES – Bellator is pleased to announce that it has reached a multi-fight, multi-year deal with Jake Hager, who was formerly known as "Jack Swagger" during his nearly nine-year run with WWE. The deal will see Hager make his MMA debut inside a Bellator cage.
Hager will compete at heavyweight and is expected to debut in 2018.
A native of Perry, Okla., Hager would go on to be a collegiate wrestler at the University of Oklahoma, where he was an All-American and set the school record for most pins at the 285-pound weight class in a single season with 30. Following graduation and a conversation with legendary pro wrestling announcer and fellow Oklahoma Sooner, Jim Ross, Hager made the transition to professional wrestling and signed with WWE.
While in WWE, Hager would go on to claim multiple coveted professional titles during his time with the organization, including the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, ECW Championship and WWE United States Championship,
After ending his run with the WWE earlier this year, Hager turned his sights toward another avenue, fully focusing on mixed martial arts skillset and testing himself against some of the best athletes in the world.
"This is something I've wanted to do for a long time. It's something that's a part of me, so it makes sense. I'm very happy with the deal. I've felt a lot of love from Bellator," said Hager. "I think there are certain types of guys who need to be punched in the face and taste blood. I've always been a fan of MMA, I've been wrestling since I was five years old. It's awesome to be with Bellator. They're really going to put 100 percent towards it!"
"I'm excited to see Jake Hager debut for Bellator in 2018," Bellator President Scott Coker said. "When I heard he was seriously interested in competing in MMA and when you look at what he did at the collegiate level, I was very interested in having him on our roster. I think Jake will expose new fans to Bellator from his previous run with WWE and he will be given every opportunity to prove that he's the real deal inside the cage."
Hager is the latest in a long line of high-profile signings Bellator has made recently and joins a heavyweight division that will crown a champion in 2018 through the recently announced eight-man Bellator Heavyweight Grand Prix.
Bellator is a leading mixed martial arts and kickboxing organization featuring many of the best fighters in the world. Under the direction of veteran fight promoter Scott Coker, Bellator is available to nearly 1 billion people worldwide in over 160 countries. In the United States, Bellator can be seen on SPIKE, the combat sports television leader. Bellator is comprised of an executive team that includes top industry professionals in television production, live event orchestration, fighter development/relations, venue procurement, sponsorship creation/development, international licensing, marketing, advertising, publicity and commission relations. Bellator is based in Hollywood, Calif. and owned by entertainment giant Viacom, home to the world's premier entertainment brands that connect with audiences through compelling content across television, motion picture, online and mobile platforms.
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About Don Hager:
Donald Jacob Hager Jr (born March 24, 1982) is contracted with Bellator MMA. He made the announcement official on November 13, 2017. Hager is an American professional wrestler and former amateur wrestler who competes independently under ring names Jake Hager and JackSwagger. Prior to joining Bellator Hager was best known for his eleven years as an entertainment WWE fighter. Hager regularly hosts television programs and performs in wrestling matches in the U.K. but resides in Tampa, FL and Miami, FL. At 6 '7" in the ring, Hager is known on the wrestling circuit as the "The Real American" whose motto is "We the People." In mid-2006, Hager signed a WWE contract, becoming a two-time world champion after graduation. His titles include WWE World Heavyweight Champion, ECW Champion, and WWE United States Champion. Hager attended the University of Oklahoma as a two-sport athlete, participating in football and wrestling. He graduated from the University of Oklahoma in 2006 with a Bachelor's degree in finance and signed with WWE as a professional wrestler shortly after. Hager met his wife, Catalina White, who was also a professional wrestler with the WWE. She is from the Fort Lauderdale area and grew up Boca Raton, FL. They've been married for seven years and have two children, a 2-year-old girl, Presley, and a 6-year-old boy, Knox.