Bellator 214 is the promotion’s first event of 2019 and the pre-fight build-up began yesterday with a conference call featuring four main card fighters.
Featured in the Bellator 214 conference call were the headliners, Ryan Bader and Fedor Emelianenko, as well as former professional wrestler Jake Hager (AKA Jack Swagger) and his opponent JW Kiser.
The first question, as expected, went to Hager, asking why now is the right time to make the jump to the cage. Hager explained that both MMA and pro wrestling are at their heights concerning popularity, giving plenty of crossover appeal opportunity. As a fighter, he believes MMA experience will make him a better wrestler, and vice-versa.
JW Kiser’s lone appearance on the call allowed him to state that he was a big fan of Hager’s alter-ego Jack Swagger, and was very grateful to Scott Coker and Bellator for the opportunity.
Hager has stayed busy since leaving the WWE, appearing on several independent wrestling circuits. He claimed that he would have been ready for his MMA debut sooner if he was not wrestling on the weekends early on, but he needed the income at the time.
Fedor Emelianenko stated that this tournament is up there with all of the past tournaments he dominated during his prime in PRIDE and other promotions due to the appearances of top fighters like Bader and Matt Mitrione. As for his motivations for next weekend, he is fighting for his country being the only Russian in the tournament.
Ryan Bader added that facing Fedor in the finals was the optimal scenario for him because he wanted to face a true heavyweight to win the belt. During his time at Arizona State, when he first considered a career in MMA, he could not have imagined facing Fedor in his career and now he has his chance.
Hager put a cap on the conference call with a pro wrestling-esque promo: “I might be late to the party but you’re gonna find out that I am the party.”