Following a win that was fully expected of him, former WWE champion Jack Swagger (Jake Hager) addressed the controversial finish, and what comes next.
Chicago, IL — Former WWE Superstar Jack Swagger was expected to win what amounted to a squash match at Bellator 221 on Saturday night in Chicago. He did just that. But sometimes, it’s about how you win. And in his sophomore outing, against a fighter who many saw as a jobber being brought in to lose, Swagger did not win well.
That had nothing to do with technique, mind you. Swagger’s wrestling continues to be on point. He had at least basic knowledge of submissions, and he again won via arm-triangle choke in the first round. But when opponent Jones tapped, Swagger held on. When the ref tried to break them apart, Swagger held on. Ref Mike Beltran had to pry him off, and admonished the fighter afterward.
Swagger, real name Jake Hager, addressed the situation following the event, with reporters including Cageside Press. The late release of the choke earned him a chorus of boos in his post-fight interview, something that “really hadn’t crossed my mind,” Swagger said. “Of course you want to be loved and cherished everywhere you go, but that’s not always the case.”
Cherished he was not. Not in Chicago. Perhaps it’s a sign of the MMA crowd being militantly anti-pro wrestling. More likely, they saw Swagger as something of a bully for refusing to let go. It wasn’t Rousimar Phalares bad, but it was bad enough.
“What you saw out there tonight was real emotion,” he said of his response to the crowd, which was antagonistic as well. If this was pro wrestling, Swagger had clearly made a heel turn. “That was a genuine response. I’m out there talking about my kids, and they start to boo me.”
In regards to holding on to the choke, however, Swagger said it was entirely unintentional. Even if he had a reason to be salty. “TJ did great, he’s a class act,” said Swagger, but added, “he did run his mouth all week, he did taunt me on stage, publicly. Did I have every reason to go out there and try and hurt him? Yes. Was I professional all week? Yes. Did I ever taunt him or anything throughout this whole fight? No.”
“This is just what happens. It wasn’t on purpose,” he stated. “I legitimately thought that was him pushing on my arm, and I had specific instruction before in the locker room, from the referee who is a very large man, who told me he will get me off him.”
As to Jone’s response after it was all said and done, Swagger recalled that “first he was congratulatory, then afterwards he kind of fired up again. I think he took Heath Slater’s catch phrase and said ‘I got kids.’ I think Slater needs to get some trademark royalties for that. Then afterwards, I think it was respectful again.”
After the fight, Scott Coker tweeted about bringing Jones back. Swagger thinks the promotion should do just that. “He is very entertaining, the crowd definitely liked him. Why not bring him back?”
As for his own return, the former collegiate wrestler with the University of Oklahoma answered “soon. Soon. I’ll take about a week off. Don’t they have a fight at Madison Square Garden [in a] little bit? You never know.”
More realistically, it will be a few months. “We were three months on this one. We’re going to continue that time frame. I plan to be 4-0 by the time Donald Trump gets re-elected.”
Watch the full post-fight press scrum with Jack Swagger/Jake Hager at Bellator 221 above!