Former WWE superstar Jake "Jack Swagger" Hager was victorious in his MMA debut with a first-round submission win over J.W. Kiser on the main card of Bellator 214 from The Forum in Inglewood, California.
Hager wasted no time in resorting to his wrestling to get the fight where he was comfortable. He backed Kiser up to the fence in the opening moments of the bout and scored the early takedown.
From there, he simply imposed his will and worked himself to an arm-triangle that eventually drew the tap.
It wasn't the most technical performance. Kiser didn't offer much in the way of resistance, but Hager's ground-and-pound didn't go unnoticed:
Bellator President Scott Coker was impressed with the performance from his newest heavyweight prospect:
After the bout, Hager made it clear he planned on continuing his business arrangement with Coker:
The win was no doubt a success for the organization and the former WWE superstar. Hager joins the likes of Bobby Lashley and Brock Lesnar as former professional wrestlers who have found success in a transition to mixed martial arts.
Just like Lashley and Lesnar, Hager has an extensive amateur wrestling background to rely on. The 36-year-old was once an All-American at the University of Oklahoma before becoming an entertainer for the WWE where he was an ECW champion, World Heavyweight champion and United States champion.
That kind of exposure is something that can turn Swagger into a valuable commodity for Bellator fast. Especially if he keeps on winning and is aware of the opportunities that creates.
"One of the best pieces of advice I ever got in professional wrestling was use the exposure from cable's No. 1-rated television show to transition and move on to what you want to go into next," Hager said, per Paul Guzzo of the Tampa Bay Times. "... I didn't realize how much I missed the competition until I started training again. It has reignited a lot of passion in me. I'm loving it."
What Bellator decides to do with Swagger from here is going to be intriguing. On one hand, he's already one of the most recognizable names in the organization. On the other, a win over Kiser isn't exactly a coronation. After all, this is an opponent who at 41 years old entered the fight at 0-1 in his professional career.
Swagger's MMA debut went as well as could be expected, but there's a lot of rungs left on the ladder before he's considered an actual contender in his new sport.