There will be two big MMA debuts going down at Bellator 214. One of which takes place in the heavyweight division as former WWE star, ‘Jack Swagger’ aka, Jake Hager, will make his debut.
Standing in his way will be JW Kiser. After his last win, the Kansas City resident and Glory MMA product was granted the opportunity of a lifetime.
“It was kind of surreal,” Kiser told BJPenn.com at Bellator 214’s media day about how he got the fight. “I fought [on] December 1 in KC (Kansas City) and three days before that fight, I was basically told by the promoter, Kansas City Fight Alliance, that if I won, Bellator was looking for an opponent to fight Jack Swagger. And I said, ‘wow’
“So I needed to win to get this opportunity and I capitalized on that and here I am, man. Seven weeks later. It still hasn’t really sunk in yet.”
In that last outing, Kiser defeated Michael Edwards via first-round TKO by way of ground and pound.
Despite his literal MMA experience advantage over the debuting Hager, he isn’t getting the respect he believes he deserves as the oddsmakers have the former professional wrestler as a massive favorite.
“Vegas has him favored 25 to 1 and I don’t know how the oddsmakers came up with that,” Kiser said. “I’ve had 52 fights, I’ve been fighting for 26-years, unsanctioned fights, amateur fights, pro fights. I fought in a tag team MMA match back in th wild-west days. So yeah, touche there, Swagger.”
The big question for essentially every pro wrestler who makes the transition to the ‘real’ sports world is always if they can take a punch or not.
Which kind of plays adage to the age old chess match that is striker vs grappler.
“Not to be cocky or anything like that, but this guy has no clue what he’s about to get himself into,” Kiser stated. “Some wrestlers can handle it, some can handle getting punched in the face. When you get caught, and you’re bleeding and you’re tired… I wrestled in high school. It’s not the same exhaustion as bleeding, getting punched, this guy’s still coming at me.
“Every tough fight I’ve ever been in, there’s been a moment in my mind where I was like, ‘what am I doing here? I’m here to fight? I signed up for this? What am I thinking?’
“And at that moment it’s kind of like you find out why you’re doing what you’re doing,” Kiser continued. “It’s something I didn’t learn until 10-15 fights in as an amateur. Just my opinion, doesn’t make it right, but I just feel like you need that amateur experience before you can step in with the pros and I think that’s a huge advantage for me.”
At the end of the day, Kiser is just calling it how he sees it and knows that Hager’s ‘only chance’ is to utilize his strong wrestling game.
“I think he’s ready physically, I don’t think he’s ready psychologically. Win or lose, you’re never ready for your debut fight.”
Will Kiser be able to pull off the big upset at Bellator 214?
This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 1/24/2019