Category Archives: Bellator

FIRST-ROUND MATCHUPS SET FOR BELLATOR WORLD GRAND PRIX 2018 HEAVYWEIGHT TOURNAMENT

 

 

 

TOURNAMENT KICKS OFF WITH ‘RAMPAGE’ JACKSON VS. CHAEL SONNEN ATBELLATOR 192 IN LA ON JAN. 20

 

LOS ANGELES –The bracket for the Bellator MMA World Grand Prix 2018 Heavyweight Tournament has been set.

 

At Bellator 192: Lima vs. MacDonald on January 20, 2018 at The Forum in Los Angeles, the tournament will begin with former champ Quinton “Rampage” Jackson (37-12) taking on renowned trash-talker Chael Sonnen (30-15-1) in an exciting first-round matchup. The event will air on the soon-to-launch Paramount Network.

 

Shortly thereafter, Matt Mitrione (12-5) will meet Roy Nelson (23-14) on February 16 at Bellator 194, an event which will emanate from the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn. In April, the greatest heavyweight of all time Fedor Emelianenko (36-5, 1 NC) battles former UFC champ Frank Mir(18-11) inside Allstate Arena in Chicago in a long-awaited clash. The final first round bout will feature current Bellator light heavyweight champion Ryan Bader (24-5) taking on former STRIKEFORCE champ “King Mo” Lawal (21-6, 1 NC) at San Jose, California’s SAP Center in May.

 

Dates for both the semi-finals and final will be determined, as will tournament alternates who will be available to fill in due to any unforeseen circumstances. The year-long World Grand Prix Heavyweight Tournament will culminate in the winner becoming the new Bellator world heavyweight champion.

 

Below, you will find the official trailer for the Bellator MMA World Grand Prix 2018 Heavyweight Tournament. Please feel free to share:

Watch video here

 

Bellator Heavyweight Grand Prix First-Round Matchups:

Bellator 192 at The Forum – Jan. 20, 2018: Quinton “Rampage” Jackson (37-12) vs. Chael Sonnen (30-15-1)

Bellator 194 at Mohegan Sun Arena – Feb. 16, 2018: Matt Mitrione (12-5) vs. Roy Nelson (23-14)

Bellator at Allstate Arena – April, 2018: Fedor Emelianenko (36-5, 1 NC) vs. Frank Mir (18-11)

Bellator at SAP Center – May, 2018: Ryan Bader (24-5) vs. “King Mo” Lawal (21-6, 1 NC)

BELLATOR MMA AND KICKBOXING RETURN TO THE NELSON MANDELA FORUM IN FLORENCE, ITALY ON SATURDAY, DEC. 9

ITALIAN ALESSIO SAKARA CHALLENGES RAFAEL CARVALHO FOR MIDDLEWEIGHT WORLD TITLE AT BELLATOR 190 

LOS ANGELES – Bellator returns to Florence, Italy on Saturday, December 9, when both Bellator MMA and Bellator Kickboxing, along with Oktagon, emanate from the Nelson Mandela Forum for another huge evening of combat sports action.

 

Bellator 190 will air free on SPIKE at 8 p.m. ET/7 p.m. CT and will be immediately followed by Bellator Kickboxing 8. Tickets for the event start at just €30 and are available at Bellator.com.

 

Bellator 190 will be headlined by current middleweight champ Rafael Carvalho (14-1), who will defend his title against Italy’s popular knockout artist, Alessio “Legionarius” Sakara (19-11, 2 NC). In addition, Brandon Girtz (14-7) takes on Luca Jelcic (10-2) at lightweight, while Mihail Nica (6-0) meets Carlos Miranda (10-3) in second lightweight clash. A women’s flyweight offering rounds out the card when Lena Ovchynnikova (12-4, 1 NC) battles Alejandra Lara (6-1).

 

Meanwhile, Bellator Kickboxing 8 boasts a pair of world champions in Raymond Daniels (12-3) and Kevin Ross (45-12) taking on Giannis Boukis (27-1) and Hamza Imane (49-12-2) respectively, in non-title fights. Other kickboxing stars are on display as Joe “Stitch ‘Em Up” Schilling (22-9) challenges Filipino Verlinden (44-18-1), Aussie legend John Wayne Parr (97-32) competes for the 130th time versus Piergiulio Paolucci (24-5-1) and Canadian featherweight Gabriel Varga (13-5) rounds out the card in a matchup with Roberto Georghita (30-6-3).

 

Complete Bellator 190: Carvalho vs. Sakara Card:

Middleweight World Title Main Event: Rafael Carvalho (14-1) vs. Alessio Sakara (19-11, 2 NC)

Lightweight Main Card Bout: Brandon Girtz (14-7) vs. Luka Jelcic (10-2)

Women’s Flyweight Main Card Bout:  Lena Ovchynnikova (12-4, 1 NC) vs. Alejandra Lara (6-1)

Lightweight Main Card Bout: Mihail Nica (6-0) vs. Carlos Miranda (10-3)

 

Preliminary Card:

Middleweight Preliminary Bout: Gregory Babene (18-11) vs. Tony Zanko (1-4)

 

Complete Bellator Kickboxing 8: Daniels vs. Boukis Card:

Welterweight Main Event (non-title): Raymond Daniels (12-3) vs. Giannis Boukis (27-1)

Middleweight Main Card Bout: Joe Schilling (22-9) vs. Filipino Verlinden (44-18-1)

161 lb. Catchweight Main Card Bout: John Wayne Parr (97-32) vs. Piergiulio Paolucci (24-5-1)

Lightweight Main Card Bout (non-title): Kevin Ross (45-12) vs. Hamza Imane (49-12-2)

Featherweight Main Card Bout: Gabriel Varga (13-5) vs. Roberto Gheorghita (30-6)

 

****

ISRAELI FIGHTERS NOAD LAHAT AND HAIM GOZALI WALK AWAY VICTORIOUS IN FRONT OF SOLD OUT BELLATOR 188 CROWD IN TEL AVIV

 

Noad Lahat (12-3) defeated Jeremiah Labiano (11-6) via unanimous decision (29-27 x3)

 

Photos: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/lqlr8xxw8peeomk/AAAKwiHgTm33fMz6nJjFBDbga?dl=0

 

Haim Gozali (8-4) defeated Arsen Faitovich (4-2) via submission (triangle choke) at :45 of round one

 

Photos: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/ee0vjzs70r57iaw/AAB-nPS5o_IWkiN2zzcGpkQ5a?dl=0

 

John Salter (15-3) defeated Jason Radcliffe (12-5) via submission (rear-naked choke) at 1:55 of round one

 

Photos: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/zeo87htbnc43m3h/AACnythlTH09nBjv1br0AlYIa?dl=0

 

Denise Kielholtz (1-1) defeated Jessica Middleton (2-3) via submission (armbar) at 1:16 of round one

 

Photos: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/7smow9ic1rokft0/AADpDDq3mRQt3Pj2CTpjcdFxa?dl=0

 

Preliminary Card:

Luiz Rocha (4-1) defeated Almog Shay (2-2) via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)

Assaf Batan (1-0) defeated Mor Attias (0-1) via submission (rear-naked choke) at 4:08 of round three

Matan Levi (3-0) defeated Erik Sianov (0-1) via majority decision (28-28, 29-27, 29-27)

Raz Bring (3-0) defeated Nadim Kablan (1-1) via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)

Moshe Ben Chimol (2-0) defeated Ivan Solomatov (0-1) via submission (armbar) at 4:00 of round one

Adam Keresh (1-0) defeated Roman Kushnir (0-1) via TKO (punches ) at 3:00 of round two

Natanial Parisi (1-0) defeated Or Eliov (0-1) via submission (anaconda choke) at 3:45 of round one

Gad David Abisror (Debut) vs. Alexander Trofimov (1-0) – No Contest (accidental foul)

Alexander Nikulin (3-0) defeated Rami Abuhav (0-1) via KO at 1:57 of round one

Oron Kahlon (3-0) defeated Julian Maloku (0-1) via submission (triangle) at 2:08 of round one

Olga Rubin (4-0) defeated Joana Filipa (0-1) via TKO (strikes) at 3:46 of round two

Shimon Gosh (6-2) defeated Francisco Silva (1-1) via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)

 

****

 

About Bellator:

Bellator is a leading mixed martial arts and kickboxing organization featuring many of the best fighters in the world. Under the direction of veteran fight promoter Scott Coker, Bellator is available to nearly 1 billion people worldwide in over 160 countries. In the United States, Bellator can be seen on SPIKE, the combat sports television leader. Bellator is comprised of an executive team that includes top industry professionals in television production, live event orchestration, fighter development/relations, venue procurement, sponsorship creation/development, international licensing, marketing, advertising, publicity and commission relations. Bellator is based in Hollywood, Calif. and owned by entertainment giant Viacom, home to the world’s premier entertainment brands that connect with audiences through compelling content across television, motion picture, online and mobile platforms.

 

About Spike:

Spike is available in 98.7 million homes and is a division of Viacom Media Networks. A unit of Viacom (NASDAQ: VIA, VIAB), Viacom Media Networks is one of the world’s leading creators of programming and content across all media platforms. Spike’s Internet address is www.spike.com and for up-to-the-minute and archival press information and photographs, visit Spike’s press site at http://www.spike.com/press. Follow us on Twitter @spiketvpr for the latest in breaking news updates, behind-the-scenes information and photos.

FNU Combat Sports Show: Tony, Tom and Rich Discuss All Things Combat Sports

Tom, Tony and Rich are back this week with a great show! We feature lots of engaging discussion about mixed martial arts and boxing, from Connor McGregor’s slapping a Bellator official to Deontay Wilder wanting to end Anthony Joshua’s career. We also chat about Dana White getting into boxing and Bellator’s 8 Man Heavyweight tournament. Again we get back to the nagging question of where are the legends in MMA, and we also cross over to where are the legends in boxing?

 

 

 

 

 

BELLATOR TO GIVE AWAY COMMEMORATIVE BOBBLEHEAD CELEBRATING LIFE OF KIMBO SLICE AT BELLATOR 192 ONSATURDAY, JAN. 20 IN LOS ANGELES

 

 

WHAT: Limited-Edition Kimbo Slice Bobblehead Giveaway

 

The world lost an icon in June of 2016 with the passing of Kimbo Slice. The unmistakable backyard brawler and mixed martial artist will be commemorated, along with his signature golden smile and chain, with a limited-edition bobblehead.

 

The giveaway will take place Saturday, Jan. 20, and will be limited to the first 5,000 fans in attendance for Bellator 192: Lima vs. MacDonald at The Forum in Los Angeles.

 

The bobblehead giveaway is limited to one per person and will only be available to ticketholders upon entry into the arena.

 

***Bobblehead giveaway is exclusively for Bellator 192 ticketholders***

***Bobbleheads distributed at venue points of entry, only while supplies last at each entry***

 

WHERE: The Forum

3900 W. Manchester Blvd.

Inglewood, Calif. 90305

 

WHEN: Saturday, January 20

 

Kimbo Slice (5-2, 1 NC)

A native of the Bahamas, the late Kevin “Kimbo Slice” Ferguson was one of the most recognizable figures in all of combat sports. After making a name for himself in the infamous world of street fighting, where he was labeled “The King of the Web Brawlers” by Rolling Stone, the internet sensation left underground fighting to become a professional mixed martial artist. The street brawler found the same success inside the cage that he had in his backyard in South Florida, collecting victories in each of his first three professional fights. Slice would go onto compete on season 10 of The Ultimate Fighter, where his bout with Roy Nelson on Spike TV set a viewership ratings record for the series that still stands today. Slice also made a flawless transition into professional boxing, where he earned seven consecutive victories. The multi-dimensional mixed martial artist, boxer and actor debuted inside the Bellator cage in 2015, where he collected his final win over Ken Shamrock at Bellator 138. A fan-favorite throughout his career, Slice was known just as much for his entertaining personality and signature look, as he was for his knockout power. Kimbo’s legacy in MMA is carried on by his son, Kevin “Baby Slice” Ferguson Jr.

 

FIGHT INFO: Bellator 192: Lima vs. MacDonald will be broadcast LIVE and FREE on Paramount Network at 9 p.m. ET/8 p.m. CT, while preliminary action will stream on Bellator.com and the Bellator Mobile App. Tickets for the event are on sale now and can be purchased at Bellator.com, as well as Ticketmaster.com.

 

Updated Bellator 192: MacDonald vs. Lima Fight Card:

Welterweight World Title Main Event: Douglas Lima (29-6) vs. Rory MacDonald (19-4)

 

****

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA’S LORENZ LARKIN AND FERNANDO GONZALEZ MEET IN MAIN EVENT OF BELLATOR 193 AT PECHANGA RESORT & CASINO ON JAN. 26

TICKETS FOR BELLATOR 193 GO ON SALE THIS FRIDAY AT 3 P.M. PST

 

LOS ANGELES – Bellator returns to Pechanga Resort & Casino in Temecula, Calif. for Bellator 193 on Friday, Jan. 26, 2018. The card will be headlined by Riverside, California-native Lorenz Larkin (18-7, 1 NC) against Menifee, California’s Fernando Gonzalez (27-14) in a 180-pound catchweight bout.

 

Tickets for this event start at $39 and are available at the Pechanga Box Office and Pechanga.com. Doors for the event open at 4 p.m. PST, while the preliminary card will kick-off at 5 p.m. PST. The event will be broadcast live and free on Paramount Network at 9 p.m. ET/8 p.m. CT, while preliminary action will stream on Bellator.com and the newly updated Bellator Mobile App. Additional bouts for Bellator 193: Larkin vs. Gonzalez will be announced shortly.

 

Larkin enters his main event matchup against Gonzalez following must-see bouts against Douglas Lima and Paul Daley in 2017. Now, “Da Monsoon” looks to add to his impressive resume – which includes marquee wins over Robbie Lawler, Santiago Ponzinibbio, Jorge Masvidal and Neil Magny and stoppages in 11 out of 18 victories – by adding the name of a competitor that has nearly 50-fights as a professional. A short trek from Larkin’s hometown of Riverside, Calif. the Millenia MMA-product will represent his nearby hometown proudly on Jan. 26.

 

Hailing from Menifee, Calif., 33-year-old Fernando Gonzalez will enter the Bellator cage for the ninth time in his nearly 15-year professional career. Gonzalez has seen a great deal of success since joining forces with Bellator MMA, having collected seven victories over an eight-fight, four-year span.Gonzalez has come on strong as of late, tallying 10 wins over his last 13 bouts, including a pair of first round knockouts. With 17 of his 27 career victories coming by way of knockout or submission, “The Menifee Maniac” will look to see his win-streak continue following his recent success against Brennan Ward at Bellator 193.

 

Updated Bellator 193: Larkin vs. Gonzalez Fight Card:

Catchweight (180 lbs.) Main Event: Lorenz Larkin (18-7, 1 NC) vs. Fernando Gonzalez (27-14)

AHEAD OF BELLATOR 188 THIS WEEK, BELLATOR FIGHTERS MEET WITH ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU IN JERUSALEM

Complete Photos Here — (c/o Office of Israel Prime Minister)

 

JERUSALEM – Earlier today, Bellator 188 competitors Noad Lahat (11-3) and Haim Gozali (7-4), along with Bellator heavyweight Fedor Emelianenko (36-5, 1 NC) and Bellator brand ambassador Royce Gracie, met with Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu at the nation’s Parliament in Jerusalem.

 

During the visit, Netanyahu expressed his support for the upcoming Bellator event in Tel Aviv later this week. This event marks Bellator’s second show in Israel and features two prominent Israeli fighters at the top of the card, as Lahat headlines and Gozali competes in the co-main event. Additionally, the preliminary bouts feature many of Israel’s best up-and-coming regional talent.

 

Bellator 188: Lahat vs. Labiano takes place Thursday, Nov. 16 at the Menora Mivtachim Arena in Tel Aviv and airs free on Spike this Friday, Nov. 17 at 9 p.m. EST/8 p.m. CST. Full card details can be found below.

 

Watch video of the meeting here, via The Prime Minister of Israel’s Official YouTube account:

Direct Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CfFWS8cAbmQ

 

 

Complete Bellator 188: Lahat vs. Labiano Fight Card:

Featherweight Main Event: Noad Lahat (11-3) vs. Jeremiah Labiano (11-5)

Welterweight Co-Main Event: Haim Gozali (7-4) vs. Arsen Faitovich (4-1)

Middleweight Feature Bout: John Salter (14-3) vs. Jason Radcliffe (12-4)

Women’s Flyweight Feature Bout: Denise Kielholtz (0-1) vs. Jessica Middleton (2-2)

 

Preliminary Card:

Welterweight Preliminary Bout: Kiril Medvedovsky (11-5) vs. Luiz Rocha (3-1)

Lightweight Preliminary Bout: Mor Attias (Debut) vs. Assaf Batan (Debut)

Welterweight Preliminary Bout: Erik Sianov (0-1) vs. Matan Levi (2-0)

Catchweight (128 lbs.) Preliminary Bout: Nadim Kablan (Debut) vs. Raz Bring (2-1)

Featherweight Preliminary Bout: Moshe Ben Chimol (1-0) vs. Ivan Solomatov (Debut)

Heavyweight Preliminary Bout: Adam Keresh (Debut) vs. Roman Kushnir (Debut)

Featherweight Preliminary Bout: Or Eliov (Debut) vs. Natanial Parisi (Debut)

Welterweight Preliminary Bout: Gad David Abisror (Debut) vs. Alexander Trofimov (1-0)

Bantamweight Preliminary Bout: Anthony Nisim Mor (Debut) vs. Shay Almog (2-1)

Catchweight (187 lbs.) Preliminary Bout: Rami Abuhav (Debut) vs. Alexander Nikulin (2-0)

Lightweight Preliminary Bout: Julian Maloku (Debut) vs. Oron Kahlon (2-0)

Featherweight Preliminary Bout: Joana Filipa (Debut) vs. Olga Rubin (3-0)

Welterweight Preliminary Bout: Francisco Silva (1-0) vs. Shimon Gosh (5-2)

BELLATOR TO HOLD EIGHT-MAN WORLD GRAND PRIX HEAVYWEIGHT TOURNAMENT IN 2018

 

 

WINNER TO BE CROWNED NEW BELLATOR HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPION

 

LOS ANGELES – Bellator has announced plans to host a year-long grand prix heavyweight tournament in 2018 featuring eight of the roster’s biggest stars with the winner becoming the new Bellator world heavyweight champion. The Bellator MMA World Grand Prix 2018 Heavyweight Tournament will air on the soon-to-launch Paramount Network.

 

The star-studded list of participants includes newly signed Quinton “Rampage” Jackson (37-12), Roy Nelson (23-14), Chael Sonnen (30-15-1),Frank Mir (18-11), “King Mo” (21-6, 1 NC), Fedor Emelianenko (36-5, 1 NC), Matt Mitrione (12-5) and Bellator light heavyweight champion Ryan Bader (24-5).

 

Spanning multiple events and locations throughout 2018, the three-round tournament allows for matchups never before thought possible and will ultimately crown a new Bellator heavyweight champion. Previously, Bellator President Scott Coker orchestrated the most recent successful heavyweight tournament in mixed martial arts with the STRIKEFORCE Heavyweight Grand Prix that spanned from 2011-12.

 

Matchups, dates and locations for the single-elimination grand prix will be determined shortly, as will tournament alternates who will be available to fill in due to any unforeseen circumstances.

 

A five-fight veteran of Bellator MMA, “Rampage’s” legendary career has seen him compete against some of the top names in the sport, generating a loyal army of fans along the way. The former PRIDE and UFC champion is the proud owner of many epic highlight reel slams and knockouts that he has racked up throughout his epic battles with the likes of Chuck Liddell, Dan Henderson, “King Mo,” Kevin Randleman and, perhaps most-notably, his trilogy with fellow Bellator athlete Wanderlei Silva.

 

Fighting out of Las Vegas, Roy Nelson made his Bellator debut earlier this year with a hard-fought victory over Javy Ayala following an eight-year, 19-fight run with UFC that saw him earn wins over Mirko Cro Cop, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, “Bigfoot” Silva and Cheick Kongo. “Big Country” also memorably defeated the late Kimbo Slice and later went on to win season 10 of The Ultimate Fighter. With 19 of his 22 career wins coming by way of knockout or submission, the long-time fan-favorite looks to add a championship to his impressive resume.

 

Chael Sonnen spent a majority of his 44-fight career with the UFC and WEC, a run that saw him defeat former middleweight champion Michael Bisping, and compete against the likes of Jon Jones, Anderson Silva (twice), Rashad Evans, “Shogun” Rua, Demian Maia and Brian Stann. In addition to his in-ring action, the West Linn, Ore. native has mastered the art of being in front of the camera, having done broadcast work for both ESPN and Fox Sports. Following a three-year hiatus from active MMA competition, Sonnen returned to the cage against Tito Ortiz at Bellator 170 in January and then went on to defeat Wanderlei Silva in the main event of Bellator: NYC.

 

Frank Mir joined Bellator earlier this year following 15 years under in the UFC where he became a two-time world champion, collected 16 victories and defeated the who’s who of heavyweight contenders, including Brock Lesnar, “Bigfoot” Silva, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and Roy Nelson. Fighting out of Las Vegas, Mir set numerous records while competing with his former promotion, highlighted by the most fights (27), victories (16), and submissions (8) in heavyweight history. With 14 of his 18 career wins coming by way of knockout or submission, the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Black Belt will now try his hand in Bellator’s heavyweight division.

 

“King Mo” will again fight at heavyweight and look to build off his success within the division following recent wins against Satoshi Ishii and Cheick Kongo. A winner in nine out of his last 11 fights, the 36-year-old will look to claim heavyweight gold in 2018 and add to his championship collection that already includes a STRIKEFORCE light heavyweight title. The “Moneyweight” fighter owns additional wins over Linton Vassell, Gegard Mousasi, Roger Gracie and has split a pair of bouts with “Rampage” Jackson with their series tied at one win each.

 

A former PRIDE champion, “The Last Emperor” is one of the most revered and respected heavyweight fighters the sport has seen. Stone-faced and quiet, Emelianenko boasted one of the most impressive unbeaten streaks in the history of MMA, not losing a bout between 2001 and 2009. A multi-time world champion in MMA and Sambo, Fedor recently returned to the sport after a brief hiatus, accumulating two decisive wins since his return to action and competing against Matt Mitrione in an instant classic at Bellator: NYC.

 

Matt Mitrione remains poised to make an impact in the Bellator heavyweight division following three knockout wins since signing with Bellator in 2016, including a first-round KO of Fedor Emelianenko at Bellator NYC this June. The Illinois native and standout defensive end at Purdue University earned All-Big Ten honors in 2000 and subsequently earned his way into the NFL where he played six seasons as a member of the New York Giants and Minnesota Vikings. Mitrione ultimately found his way into MMA where he became a high-level competitor, defeating the likes of the late Kimbo Slice, Derrick Lewis and Gabriel Gonzaga.

 

Bader will make his third appearance for Bellator and first since defending his light heavyweight championship at Bellator 186. Fighting out of Tempe, Ariz., Bader began his professional career on an impressive run, steamrolling the competition en route to a 12-fight winning streak and winning one of the most competitive seasons of The Ultimate Fighter in franchise history on Spike in 2008. “Darth” continued his path of dominance by collecting 15 over some of the 105-pound division’s top talent, including victories over former world champions Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, Rashad Evans, as well as two wins over Phil Davis. Currently riding a four-fight winning streak with victories in nine of his past ten bouts, the former two-time NCAA Division I All-American wrestler from Arizona State University will look to become a current two-division champion in Bellator MMA.

 

Bellator Heavyweight Grand Prix Participants:

Bellator World Light Heavyweight Champion Ryan Bader (24-5)

Fedor Emelianenko (36-5, 1 NC)

Quinton “Rampage” Jackson (37-12)

“King Mo” Lawal (21-6, 1 NC)

Frank Mir (18-11)

Matt Mitrione (12-5)

Roy Nelson (23-14)

Chael Sonnen (30-15-1)

 

****

JAKE HAGER, FORMERLY KNOWN AS WWE’S JACK SWAGGER, SIGNS EXCLUSIVE MULTI-YEAR DEAL WITH BELLATOR MMA

LOS ANGELES – Bellator is pleased to announce that it has reached a multi-fight, multi-year deal with Jake Hager, who was formerly known as “Jack Swagger” during his nearly nine-year run with WWE. The deal will see Hager make his MMA debut inside a Bellator cage.

 

Hager will compete at heavyweight and is expected to debut in 2018.

 

A native of Perry, Okla., Hager would go on to be a collegiate wrestler at the University of Oklahoma, where he was an All-American and set the school record for most pins at the 285-pound weight class in a single season with 30. Following graduation and a conversation with legendary pro wrestling announcer and fellow Oklahoma Sooner, Jim Ross, Hager made the transition to professional wrestling and signed with WWE.

 

While in WWE, Hager would go on to claim multiple coveted professional titles during his time with the organization, including the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, ECW Championship and WWE United States Championship.

 

After ending his run with the WWE earlier this year, Hager turned his sights toward another avenue, fully focusing on his mixed martial arts skillset and testing himself against some of the best athletes in the world.

 

“This is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. It’s something that’s a part of me, so it makes sense. I’m very happy with the deal. I’ve felt a lot of love from Bellator,” said Hager. “I think there are certain types of guys who need to be punched in the face and taste blood. I’ve always been a fan of MMA, I’ve been wrestling since I was five-years-old. It’s awesome to be with Bellator. They’re really going to put 100 percent towards it!”

 

“I’m excited to see Jake Hager debut for Bellator in 2018,” Bellator President Scott Coker said. “When I heard he was seriously interested in competing in MMA and when you look at what he did at the collegiate level, I was very interested in having him on our roster. I think Jake will expose new fans to Bellator from his previous run with WWE and he will be given every opportunity to prove that he’s the real deal inside the cage.”

 

Hager is the latest in a long line of high-profile signings Bellator has made recently and joins a heavyweight division that will crown a champion in 2018 through the recently announced eight-man Bellator Heavyweight Grand Prix.

 

****

FNU Combat Sports Show: The MMA Report

“Psychic” Tom Padgett and “Rabble Rousin'” Rich Bergeron catch up after a three-week hiatus. Tony “The Tornado” Penecale will join us again next week for the broadcast. This week we cover as much as we can jam into the show to make up for lost time. From GSP’s triumphant return to McGregor’s conditions to come back to the cage, we cover it all. Finally, Tom asks a very important question: Where are the legends of MMA?