Bellator 269 at the VTB Arena in Moscow has promised the return of Fedor Emelianenko. It has not promised, however, an opponent for Fedor. But an unexpected name has thrown their name in the hat: Jake Hager, formerly of AEW and WWE fame under the ring name Jack Swagger.
At 39, Hager isn’t an MMA prospect, but he’s undefeated in his Bellator career thus far, winning three fights, and tallying a No Contest against Anthony Garrett after kneeing Garrett’s balls off. Why, after struggling to beat Brandon Carlton, is he begging for a match with Fedor?
“Just because I have a shorter career doesn’t mean I’m not as worthy,” he told Mike Heck on What the Heck (transcription via MMAFighting). “I have a bigger following, I have more excitement behind me, and I have a brighter future than all of those guys. So give it to me [Bellator President] Scott [Coker], because I’m the one that you’re going to build this company on, not those guys that are just coming in for a one-and-done. I’m here for the next 10 years. Let’s go.”
A lot of names have popped up as potential opponents for Fedor: Alistair Overeem, Junior dos Santos, Anderson Silva, Fabricio Werdum, Josh Barnett, Wanderlei Silva, Brock Lesnar, etc..
Given Fedor’s history of highly competitive fights followed by highly unnecessary ones, a fight with Hager would be just as fitting as a fight with Silva. That’s not a slight: just something that work thematically for Fedor’s resume. For Hager’s part, he’s doing everything in his power to give the matchup legs.