Jack Swagger > CM Punk? – This past weekend we saw the UFC’s CM Punk experiment end badly, but that won’t stop Bellator and Jack Swagger from trying to crossover to MMA.
Punk, a former WWE wrestling world champion, went 0-2 in two appearances in the UFC. The second of those came this past Saturday night when he faced unheralded Mike Jackson (0-1) and proceeded to get beat up for 15 minutes. UFC President Dana White stated after the match that Punk should be “done with UFC.”
Another former WWE champion who is looking to get his feet wet in MMA is Jack Swagger, whose real name is Jake Hager. Swagger has been away from the WWE for a few years and he has been working on fighting in MMA. He even signed a Bellator contract and appears on their website among the heayweights, albeit with a record of 0-0-0.
Swagger held the belt in the WWE but he was no where near the crossover star that CM Punk was. Swagger’s “We The People” gimmick was over for a while but towards the end it appeared stale. While Punk left the WWE in a whirlwind, Swagger sort of showed himself out the door.
After Punk’s disasterous run with the UFC, why would another wrestler even try it? And how likely is Swagger to succeed where Punk could not?
Picture caption: Will Jack Swagger be the next pro wrestler to enter the Bellator cage? (Courtesy of USA Today)
Jack Swagger > CM Punk?
Perhaps the major factor tied to Swagger’s potential success is that he is a heavyweight. Swagger lists as 6’7 and 254 pounds on the Bellator site, so he is not going to be experimenting with cutting weight or anything like that. Punk reportedly wrestled at right around 200 pounds and for the UFC he came in as a welterweight, 170 pounds. Both men are north of 35 years old, so avoiding that drain will be big for Swagger. Another advantage to the heavyweight division is that aside from the top shelf, it is a very thin division in terms of talent. And unlike Punk, who had never competed in a martial art before, Swagger has a wrestling background.
Swagger wrestled at the University of Oklahoma and he won All-American honors after dropping football to take up wrestling full-time. Now that does not automatically assure Swagger of success in Bellator, but the experience will help him get his mind ready for MMA and competition.
It bears noting that on top of having no competition in his background, Punk also suffered from anxiety disorder. On top of fighting athletes, he was also in many ways fighting himself so Punk deserves credit for his pursuit of the endeavor.
So you could see Swagger following the Brock Lesnar path. Lesnar was in a UFC title fight with a 2-1 overall record and against an aging Randy Couture, he walked in with like a 50 pound weight advantage.
Swagger is going to be big and athletic, and hopefully he can net 2-3 fast wins over Bellator’s entry level guys. With Frank Mir on the Bellator roster, he could be “tested” by the same guy who once beat Lesnar. If he gets by Mir, we could get Swagger vs Fedor. Win or lose against the legendary Fedor, a run like that would be nothing but a feather in Swagger’s cap. And he could then go back to the WWE.
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