The Bellator 221: Chandler vs. Pitbull main card kicked off with undefeated featherweight prospect Tywan Claxton extending his record to 5-0, as he beat a tough but very overmatched James Bennett by third-round TKO. Following that up was Jake Hager, aka former WWE star Jack Swagger, winning his second professional MMA fight by easily submitting the uh... existing T.J. Jones, who sure soaked up the spotlight while serving as Hager’s personal grappling dummy. The beef plant worker was choked out by Hager, who didn’t let the submission go immediately after Jones tapped.
Here’s how the fights played out.
Jake Hager def. TJ Jones by submission (arm-triangle choke) at 2:36 of round 1 - Heavyweights
Hager was able to take Jones down in less than 20 seconds, landing several right hands before advancing to side control. He went for an armlock but couldn’t complete it, although he maintained side control. Hager then tried for the Americana on the right arm, but Jones was having none of that. Hager landed more strikes, attacked with an arm-triangle choke and Jones tapped out. For god knows what reason, he held onto the choke well after the two taps by Jones.
Hager insisted in the post-fight interview that he meant no disrespect in holding onto the choke late. The crowd booed him and he also let everyone know that he is “rock hard with emotion” and that he has “got a boner.” I wrote all of that without making it up. This is MMA.
Tywan Claxton def. James Bennett by TKO (strikes) at 2:09 of round 3 - Featherweights
Claxton scored an immediate takedown of Bennett in the opening minute of the fight. Bennett did well to scramble, but Claxton was always a step ahead and made sure Bennett wasn’t able to get into an advantageous position. A gogo choke by Bennett did not succeed, as Claxton remained on top and landing several strikes to the head. Heavy ground-and-pound continued before Bennett got to his feet, then he was slammed to the mat again. The beating continued and Bennett was bloodied and in clear trouble. It was a 10-8 round without question, as Bennett avoided getting finished but ate plenty of big shots.
Round two saw Claxton throw a flying knee that caught Bennett off-guard and put on his back. The knee didn’t rock him, but he did end up absorbing more damage as Claxton kept pouring on the punishment from top position. This pretty much defined the rest of round two as Bennett was in survival mode and providing no offense of his own.
Claxton once again took Bennett down with a double leg, briefly mounted him, then went back to hard elbows from half-guard. The beatdown continued some more and referee Kevin McDonald showed mercy by stopping it halfway through the final round.