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WWE/MMA News: Jack Swagger reveals when he decided to leave WWE for MMA, talks about CM Punk in the UFC

932   //    12 Dec 2017, 10:16 IST

Jake Hager as Jack Swagger with his trademark WE THE PEOPLE entrance...

What's the story?

Former WWE World Heavyweight Champion Jack Swagger, now using his real name Jake Hager, spoke with Wrestling Inc. regarding his choice to go into the MMA world.

He would discuss when he decided to leave WWE for the career in MMA, as well as talk about CM Punk and his journey in the UFC.

In case you didn't know...

Hager wrestled for the University of Oklahoma where he was an All-American in his senior year and set the school record for most pins in a season with 30.

During his junior year at Oklahoma, he was introduced to Jim Ross who had ties with the university. Ross would encourage Hager to pursue a career in professional wrestling and he'd sign a developmental deal with the WWE in 2006.

As Jack Swagger, he would win the ECW Championship once, WWE World Championship, and WWE United States Championship on one occasion each.

The heart of the matter

Hager told Wrestling Inc. that he started thinking about leaving the WWE for an MMA career during the final two years of his time with the company. The WWE granted Hager's release from the company on March 13th of this year.

He would further expand on those thoughts about pursuing a career in MMA with the quote below:

"I was set on going the pro-wrestling route. I had friends going out of college and guys I competed against and went into MMA and became successful," he said. "Guys like Ben Askren, Cain Velasquez, Daniel Cormier, and you saw what they did and what their careers turned out. There was a boom in popularity, but I pretty much in my mind that I was going into the pro-wrestling side of it."

In regards to former WWE Champion CM Punk joining the UFC, Hager stated the interactions Hager had with Punk indicated to him he would eventually pursue a career in MMA, but he was surprised when Punk actually made the jump to the UFC.


Hager described the move by Punk as an "exit business move" and said he couldn't be mad at someone wanting to do something they were passionate about and could potentially make a lot of money in the process.

What's next?

Hager announced he signed with Bellator on November 18th and will compete in their heavyweight division in 2018. At the time of this writing, there have not been any further details regarding Hager's first fight.

Author's take

Considering the last championship that Jack Swagger held was in 2012, it wasn't a surprise to me that he would ponder a different career option. The Real American gimmick with Zeb Colter and eventually Cesaro seemed to get Swagger back on track, but after that program completed, he had trouble getting any further traction.

It'll be interesting to see how he does in the heavyweight division at Bellator. Much like Punk, he'll have a lot of eyes on his first fight to see how he does.

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I've been a passionate wrestling fan since I was a Little Stinger watching the NWA at my Grandma's house on Saturday nights in the 1980's. Since the start of 2015, I have hosted a pro wrestling podcast called Lost In The Midcard with my good friend Matt Black where we cover all wrestling promotions. My favorite wrestler of all-time is Ric Flair; while my favorite wrestlers today include Dean Ambrose, Kenny Omega, and Kevin Owens.
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