A Grappling Bout Between Jon Jones and AEW Star Jake Hager? Not So Fast

Jake Hager, Bellator MMA
Jake Hager vs Brandon Calton, Bellator 250 Credit: Bellator MMA

The MMA world has been laser-focused on Jon Jones’ next move for the better part of two years now.

The former UFC light heavyweight champ vacated his title in August of 2020, having last defended it at the start of that year. From that point onward, fans awaited Jones’ arrival in the heavyweight division, potentially in a massive fight with Francis Ngannou.

And waited. And waited… you get the picture. More often than not, the biggest Jones news has been outside the cage, in the form of various legal troubles, including a domestic violence incident following his Hall of Fame induction earlier this year.

Then, on Saturday, Jones took to social media to announce that he would compete in a grappling match against former WWE star and current AEW pro wrestler Jake Hager.

“Breaking News!! I’m excited to announce I’ll be competing for the number one grappling organization in the world, Fury Grappling! December 9th I’ll be in New Jersey competing against WWE superstar and undefeated Bellator heavyweight Jack Swagger,” Jones wrote in a since-deleted Twitter post, referring to Hager, a Bellator MMA heavyweight, by his old WWE stage name.

Well, not so fast. Hager, a 3-0 heavyweight (plus a no contest) in the Bellator cage is a decorated NCAA wrestler from his collegiate days. While his inexperience in fighting would make any live fight with Jones a slaughter, a grappling match between the two would be interesting — and give us some idea of how Jones will handle competing against much bigger opponents.

There’s just one problem: despite Fury Grappling apparently confirming the match to MMA Fighting, Hager took to social media to announce no deal had been made.

While Jones is known as a frequent “tweet and delete” offender, Hager’s statement remains online. “First of all it’s AEW on TNT and undefeated Bellator MMA heavyweight Jake Hager, secondly no terms have been discussed or contract signed. We can talk if terms are right,” wrote Hager, directly replying to Jones’ since-deleted tweet.

The strangest part of this very 2021 story is that Jones needs the match — or one like it — more than Hager. AEW is the biggest thing in professional wrestling at the moment, and Hager is part of their “Inner Circle” faction, who just completed a feud with American Top Team members including Junior Dos Santos and Andrei Arlovski.

Jones, meanwhile, hasn’t fought in close to two years, and would probably like the news to be about his athletic career for a change.