Ex-WWE Superstar Jack Swagger Says He's Different Than CM Punk Entering MMA

Rory Marsden@@roomarsdenFeatured ColumnistJanuary 13, 2019

COLOGNE, GERMANY - FEBRUARY 11: Jack Swagger during WWE Road to WrestleMania at the Lanxess Arena on February 11, 2016 in Cologne, Germany. (Photo by Marc Pfitzenreuter/Getty Images)
Marc Pfitzenreuter/Getty Images

Jack Swagger has vowed not to emulate fellow former WWE world heavyweight champion CM Punk by disappointing in his switch to MMA.

Punk signed with the UFC in 2014, but his debut fight against Mickey Gall at UFC 203 in 2016 ended in a first-round defeat.

In June last year, he lost by unanimous decision to Mike Jackson at UFC 225, and a third visit to the Octagon now seems unlikely.

Swagger, 36, is preparing to make his debut in Bellator MMA against J.W. Kiser in the heavyweight division on January 26.

He was a record-breaking college wrestler at the University of Oklahoma, and he pointed to his All-American status as one of the reasons he will fare better than Punk in MMA, per TMZ Sports:

"I'm different for so many reasons. I've been wrestling since I was five years old. I have over 150 Division I college wrestling matches, and I'm gonna rely on that as my amateur MMA and boxing career to help when the anxiety kicks in.

"I think the biggest thing that you're gonna see in the difference between me and him is that I am prepared. I am 100 percent prepared to take this fight, to go into that Octagon, go in that cage and inflict my will on anybody."

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Swagger, real name Jake Hager, signed with Bellator at the end of 2017 and was initially set to debut in 2018.

He first got involved with WWE in 2006 and was part of the organisation until his release in 2017.

Unlike Punk, his record as a college wrestler should hold some sway in MMA. At Oklahoma in 2006, the year he was an All-American in the 129 kilo (285 pounds) weight class, Hager set the single-season record for most pins in a season with 30.

Hager's opponent at Bellator 214 in California is almost as inexperienced as he is. Kiser, 41, has fought just once as a professional in MMA, losing by technical knockout in 24 seconds to Antonio Martinez last May.