The former WWE star Jack Swagger, or Jake Hager, continued his MMA journey with a first round submission of TJ Jones at Bellator 221 on Saturday night.
There are a couple of pro wrestling terms that applied to Bellator 221’s main card bout between Jack Swagger and TJ Jones. A couple key ones. Mainly, “jobber,” and “squash match.” That’s certainly what it felt like heading in, at least. Swagger, a former WWE champion who was also a decorated collegiate wrestler at the University of Oklahoma, began his MMA career rather late, signing with Bellator in 2017, and making his debut earlier this year. However, a win over J.W. Kiser showed that Swagger at least had some raw talent.
For his second fight, Bellator opted to feed more of the same to Swagger, real name Jake Hager. TJ Jones was a 1-1 fighter in MMA as a pro, which on paper, made Swagger vs. Jones an even enough fight. But it was the pro wrestler (Swagger continues to compete in that world) who came in with all the tools necessary to dominate a fighter who was 329lbs when he signed up for the bout. Realistically, Jones was the jobber in this bout.
He had some fun with it at least. Jones danced on his way out, clearly reveling in the moment. When they went at it, however, the dance was over quickly. They clinched, and Jones did manage to reverse, but was soon taken down. Hager’s wrestling prowess was soon on display, as he controlled TJ Jones, then isolated an arm. Swagger wound up in side control, looking for a potential choke. He then switched back to the arm, looking for an Americana. Jones muscled out, but was on his knees with the ex-WWE star on his back. Hager landed some punches, then flattened Jones out, sinking in the arm-triangle choke. Jones quickly tapped, the ref came in to break it up, but Jake Hager was slow to release the hold, much to the displeasure of ref Mike Beltran.
💪@RealJackSwagger gets the W tonight via submission.
— Bellator MMA (@BellatorMMA) May 12, 2019
The fighters would hug it out after, but the late release will no doubt become one of the larger talking points in a fight that was basically a squash match. Post-fight, Swagger said he thought the ref was actually his opponent, then gave a questionable line about being “rock hard” from the experience. With the fans booing, Swagger yelled out “keep booing me, I don’t care!” as he finished his interview.
Jake Hager def. TJ Jones by submission (arm-triangle choke), Round 1, 2:36