Former WWE star Jack Swagger is set to make his mixed martial arts (MMA) debut.
Swagger (real name Jake Hager) has signed with Bellator MMA and will compete in their heavyweight division. He has decided to transition into the world of MMA after his professional wrestling stint with WWE came to an end last year.
He signed with Bellator MMA a few months later. Today (Mon. December 3, 2018) the former NCAA Division I All-American joined “The Ariel Helwani MMA Show.” During the program, Swagger revealed his MMA debut now has a date and opponent. Hager will face J.W. Kiser on Jan. 26th at the Bellator 214 card. Here’s what he had to say (via MMA Junkie’s Chamatkar Sandhu):
“I think my career will be a lot longer than most people imagine, in mixed martial arts. … I have nothing to prove. I’m doing this for me and my family. I know I belong and you will see that I do when I step in the cage.”
Hager’s opponent, Kiser, is currently 0-1 in his career. He started 0-3 in his amateur MMA career, losing all via TKO in the first round. Kiser picked up a first-round TKO victory to make his amateur record 1-4 and then decided to turn pro. A year later, Kiser turned pro, only to lose in 24 seconds of the first round via TKO.
Bellator 214 goes down from The Forum in Inglewood, California on January 26, 2019. The event is headlined by Fedor Emelianenko vs. Ryan Bader for the vacant Bellator MMA heavyweight title.
Former UFC featherweight and lightweight champion Conor McGregor is now teasing a WWE appearance.
McGregor comes off a first-round submission loss to Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 229 earlier this year. The Irishman failed to recapture the lightweight title from the Russian grappling phenom. Now, he’s gunning for an immediate rematch, but is willing to face the next man up if need be.
It also seems like McGregor is willing to make a WWE appearance in the meantime. Recently, McGregor responded to one of WWE’s hottest stars at the moment, fellow Irish countrywoman and SmackDown Live Women’s Champion Becky Lynch.
Lynch recently responded to a story on Twitter suggesting that she’s “channeling” McGregor due to her brash trash talk on the mic.
However, Lynch said that, while she and McGregor share Irish blood, she’d snap his arm if they ever came within two miles of one another. But she also did say she’d share some whiskey with him after the fight:
“The Man channels no one. @TheNotoriousMMA & me are bonded as Irish brother & sister. But if I ever got within 2 miles of him I’d break that bond, and his arm, in three short seconds. I’d be too tempting; he’d completely understand too. Proper12 after.”
The Man channels no one. @TheNotoriousMMA & me are bonded as Irish brother & sister. But if I ever got within 2 miles of him I’d break that bond, and his arm, in three short seconds. I’d be too tempting; he’d completely understand too. Proper12 after. https://t.co/GNAytrkJ7n
Another UFC fighter has now shown interest in taking on the world of professional wrestling.
Several years ago, former UFC prospect Matt Riddle walked about from the cage after severing ties with UFC President Dana White. He made the transition into professional wrestling and instantly became one of the industry’s hottest stars. WWE signed him to a contract this past summer.
Former UFC women’s bantamweight champion and UFC Hall Of Famer Ronda Rousey signed with WWE earlier this year as well. She is currently the WWE Raw Women’s Champion and one of the company’s biggest stars. Also, Brock Lesnar has fluctuated between both the UFC and WWE for the past several years.
Recently, former UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez teased a career in WWE when he visited the company’s Performance Center in Florida. He participated in several drills inside the ring, worked out in the facility’s weight room, and attended a show that night.
Current UFC heavyweight and light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier is a lifelong WWE fan. He revealed recently he has a tryout with the company to serve as a commentator for their shows. And now, UFC star Paige VanZant is expressing interest in becoming affiliated with the professional wrestling juggernaut.
“PVZ” was recently at a tech summit in Portugal and was asked about the possibility. She said she’s definitely interested in a potential WWE career, but isn’t ready to leave MMA anytime soon. VanZant also revealed that she recently spoke to top WWE executive Stephanie McMahon (via MMA Weekly):
“I’m not ready to leave the UFC just yet. I love being a professional fighter and I still have a long career ahead of me,” VanZant said. “I also think the WWE is an amazing organization and it’s a very athletic entertainment industry which would suit me.
“There’s probably huge potential for a crossover down the line and of course I’m a big fan of what they do, so it would be great to be a part of. I got the opportunity to talk to Stephanie for a little bit on Tuesday which was great.”
WWE may not be real, but the insults certainly are.
Earlier this year UFC Hall Of Famer Ronda Rousey signed a deal to join WWE, where she currently reigns as the Raw Women’s Champion. WWE’s Survivor Series pay-per-view (PPV) is this weekend, which means the champions of the Raw and SmackDown Live brands face off against one another.
Ronda’s opponent would usually be current SmackDown Live Women’s Champion Becky Lynch. Unfortunately, Lynch was injured during a segment to hype Survivor Series on an episode of Raw this past Monday. After suffering a broken nose, she will not be able to face Rousey and is replaced by Charlotte Flair – daughter of two-time WWE Hall Of Famer Ric Flair.
Despite the fact that Rousey and Lynch aren’t facing one another anymore, that hasn’t stopped the two women from going at it on social media (for show). Rousey went off on Lynch for pulling out of their match this weekend earlier today. Rousey called Lynch, who goes by the moniker “The Man,” the “Millennial Man.”
It didn’t take Lynch too long to clap back by opening a deep wound. Lynch poked fun at Rousey’s 2015 head-kick knockout loss to Holly Holm at UFC 193:
“Ronnie, TL/DR. When I got my face broke I got up, owned you THEN showed up the next day looking to fight some more.
“When you got your face broke you hid for a year under your blankie. Your mind is as weak as your jaw, & I’m going to move heaven & earth to come destroy them both.”
Ronnie, TL/DR. When I got my face broke I got up, owned you THEN showed up the next day looking to fight some more. When you got your face broke you hid for a year under your blankie. Your mind is as weak as your jaw, & I’m going to move heaven & earth to come destroy them both. https://t.co/8oDubzNYr4
Rousey avoided the public eye for a year after suffering the first loss of her MMA career to Holm. She returned in December of 2016, only to be knocked out by Amanda Nunes in under a minute. Now, she is a full-time professional wrestler for WWE but hasn’t officially shut the door on her fighting career.
Former UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez is enduring another lengthy absence from the Octagon.
Velasquez hasn’t fought since UFC 200 in July 2016 when he dispatched Travis Browne in the first round. Since then, Velasquez has been sidelined by injuries and perhaps even contractual issues with the UFC. In fact, the Mexican star teased a career in professional wrestling when he visited WWE’s Performance Center in Orlando several months ago.
Recently, Velasquez’s training partner and friend Josh Thomson took to Twitter and commented on his AKA teammate’s status. He said the UFC needs to stop “bullsh***ing” with Velasquez, as the heavyweight division needs him right now:
“Everyone needs to ask the @ufc why @cainmma isn’t back. Let’s not beat around the bush anymore with this and let’s be honest, #UFC#HW division needs him but they bullshitting with this dude. @dc_mma won’t be around to keep saving their shows.”
Everyone needs to ask the @ufc why @cainmma isn't back. Let's not beat around the bush anymore with this and let's be honest, #UFC#HW division needs him but they bullshitting with this dude. @dc_mma won't be around to keep saving their shows. https://t.co/KPZ5x5EMGo
Currently, the heavyweight division is being run by Thomson’s other AKA teammate Daniel Cormier in Velasquez’s absence. However, “DC” plans on retiring from MMA competition relatively soon. He will defend the UFC heavyweight title against Derrick Lewis in the main event of UFC 230 next month (Sat. November 3, 2018).
As for Velasquez, it remains to be seen what’s next for him and the UFC. After a seemingly never-ending streak of injuries derailed his decorated career, we may never see him again. That would be a shame.
Velasquez is one of the best heavyweights to compete in MMA. He’s a two-time UFC champion. He may even be considered the best ever had he stayed healthy.
The heavyweight division could certainly use him as well.
Daniel Cormier seems to already have plans in place for his life after mixed martial arts (MMA).
“DC” has been very vocal about planning on retiring from MMA in 2019. He will fight Derrick Lewis in the main event of UFC 230 next month (Sat. November 3, 2018). It will be Cormier’s first UFC heavyweight title defense of his career. Per a report from Dave Meltzer of Wrestling Observer Radio, FOX is interested in retaining Cormier after their relationship with the UFC is finished.
The UFC will begin airing on ESPN next year, ending their longtime broadcasting deal with FOX. In turn, WWE has signed over the broadcasting rights to their SmackDown Live program to FOX. It’s reported that FOX would like to have Cormier as part of the program’s commentary team to give it a more “sporty” vibe.
Recently, Cormier spoke to reporters at a UFC 230 media event. He revealed that he actually postponed a WWE audition for his fight with Lewis at Madison Square Garden (via MMA Fighting):
“If I didn’t have this fight, I have been talking to the WWE, because they wanted me to go in and do an audition as a member of the commentary team,” Cormier said.
“That was my private little thing. But because of the fight, I had to push it back. So there might be some DC in WWE shit coming.”
As for his responsibilities as a UFC commentator, Cormier doesn’t plan on stepping away from the broadcast booth. Should he sign with WWE, Cormier said he never wants to leave his “home” in the UFC:
“[WWE is] new. It’s something new, right? This is home. Over there is new. And most times, new is fun and exciting. But I love being home. This is my place. I love the UFC.”