Jack Swagger is moving on from his time in the WWE.
The former WWE star announced on Monday on The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani that he had signed a contract with Bellator MMA to compete in its heavyweight division. Swagger, real name Jake Hager, said he’ll be making his debut in 2018.
Hager was a standout at the University of Oklahoma as a wrestler as he set the Oklahoma single-season record for most pins in a season with 30 in 2006. He was also an All-American that year in the 129kg (285 pounds) weight class. He has never competed as a pro-MMA fighter.
Swagger is a former WWE World Heavyweight Champion, ECW Champion, and United States Champion who's stint with the sports entertainment company lasted from 2006 to 2017. He then took to MMA legend Chael Sonnen's podcast, You're Welcome, earlier this year to announce that he had requested his release from the company.
Two weeks later WWE officially granted Swagger his release. He was recently interviewed by the Huffington Post and discussed a number of topics including being frustrated while in the WWE.
“After a while, you get really frustrated…especially if you’re away from your family as much as we are and putting our bodies through what we do,” Swagger stated.
“I like to think of pro wrestling as an art, so we’re artists,” he went on to say. “Most artists I know put their love and heart into these things, and to repeatedly have that swept away or get crushed, it gets a little much to deal with.”
“Here’s the thing: I’m not bitter about it; I’m thankful for the career. Anything I did not accomplish there, it wasn’t because there was a thumb over my head, pushing me down. It’s because I didn’t accomplish it,” he asserted. “That’s the way I choose to go through life and look at things and move on.”
“I’m taking it as a learning experience,” he said of his travels over the last six months. “It’s really been nice to be able to sink my teeth into wrestling again and be hungry again — because I really feel like I have control over how far I go.”
What are your thoughts on Swagger’s comments and time in the sports entertainment company? Have YOUR say in the comments section below and the fourth episode of GiveMeSport’s WWE podcast is here!
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