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Bellator News: Jake Hager talks about possibly getting booed in MMA after AEW heel turn

Published Oct 24, 2019
Oct 24, 2019 IST

Jake Hager, FKA Jack Swagger.
Jake Hager, FKA Jack Swagger.

Jake Hager is a busy man these days. In addition to being one of the major features of All Elite Wrestling Dynamite on Wednesday nights, the former WWE Superstar is also training for his upcoming MMA fight for Bellator.

Hager spoke to MMAJunkie about his next scheduled fight and commented on the possibility of getting booed by the Bellator faithful.

The former WWE World Heavyweight Champion is a heel in AEW's Inner Circle faction led by Chris Jericho and he was asked about how he'd react if the MMA fans directed jeers at him when he fights next for Bellator. Hager was booed after his last fight when he refused to let go of an Arm Triangle choke during his win against T.J. Jones in May earlier this year. Hager even delivered a few heel statements during the post-fight interview at Bellator 221, which was intended to rub the fans the wrong way.

Hager is now a heel outside the realms of MMA as well and he is expected to be treated as the bad guy when he steps inside the cage for the third time in his career at Bellator 231.

Hager claimed that he doesn't really care whether he gets cheered or booed and added that having a background in entertainment gives him a better understanding of marketing himself.

“I really don’t care. I don’t see it as overshadowing. I look at it as me understanding the importance of the entertainment side of things. Honestly, if you think about it, that promo afterwards was almost as big as the fight itself. So what are people going to remember? Are they going to remember that arm triangle? Or are they going to remember me getting after it a little bit? It’s all about making people feel a certain way. As long as they do that, I’m winning.”

Hager explained how his experience as a pro wrestler has made him realize that even MMA fans need to be emotionally invested in the fights and that a certain level of a vulnerability is required to get a reaction from the fans.

“I come from an entertainment side. Twelve years ago, coming out of college as a Division 1 All-American, I would have been just another MMA fighter wanting to get in front of the camera and talk about how tough I am and how I’ll fight anybody. Now that I understand the entertainment side of it, I understand you need vulnerability and you need emotion and you need people to respond a certain way. That’s all mixed together.

Every mixed martial artist in 2020 is trying to build is her or her brand, and Hager is no different.

“In 2020, you’re only going to see more fighters taking those fighters like that. We’re all out here trying to grow our own brand. That’s our five minutes right there where we have the opportunity where we can say whatever we want and we can get away with it.”

Getting a reaction from the audience is what matters for Hager and it doesn't even matter if it's negative of positive in nature.

Hager is interested to see how the Bellator fans will react towards him, now that he is a heel pro wrestler while also coming off a controversial finish at Bellator 221.

“It’s going to be very interesting. I debuted with AEW in the meantime, so I’m very interested to see how the fans will respond to that. I’m sure most of them are going to remember that second fight and they’re going to think that I’m playing games or I’m not being professional.“In this day and age, everybody is going to have something to say, so you can’t go around worrying about it. The biggest thing for me is you just need to react one way or another.” H/t Credit: MMAJunkie

Jake Hager (2-0) will take on Anthony Garret (4-2) in his third pro MMA fight in Bellator's Heavyweight division inside the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut on October 25th.

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