Rugby player James Haskell confirmed for MMA debut at Bellator London

James Haskell
Image via Bellator MMA

Former rugby player James Haskell is set to make his eagerly-anticipated MMA debut at Bellator London on May 16.

The former England international finished his 17-year rugby career in 2019 just before announcing his decision to join the Bellator roster.

The ex-Wasps and Northampton Saints flanker won 77 caps for his country and believes he has what it takes to pull off the MMA transition.

“I wouldn’t have agreed to it if I didn’t believe I could pull it off,” Haskell said (via Standard Sport.) “My coaches are going to tell me what to do. It’s about them formulating a plan, what is going to work for me and what isn’t going to work for me.”

Haskell has been an eager learner of the MMA craft and joined the MMA London Shootfighters gym almost a decade ago to improve his athletic abilities. It is also the home of Bellator talents Michael “Venom” Page and Mike Shipman. He credits his gym for teaching him everything he needs to know.

“They are specialists, I am excited to see what they can do with me and they will dictate everything,” he said. “I don’t really have an opinion for once in my life which is quite nice.”

Haskell will be sharing the same card as Irish talent, James Gallagher who will be fighting UK fighter Cal Ellenor in a bantamweight bout. Their anticipated matchup has been put on hold twice due to injury.

The rugby star joins the heavyweight division currently championed by Ryan Bader, who has held the belt since January 2019.

Do you think the James Haskell has what it takes to become a contender in the Bellator heavyweight division?

This article first appeared on BJPENN.com on 2/20/2020.