The fight between Jake Hager and TJ Jones played out pretty much everyone expected it to. It didn’t make it out of the first round and pretty much all of the offense was delivered by Hager. The former Division I All-American wrestler and former WWE Superstar took Jones down early and stayed on top of him until he was able to get a submission victory.
That victory came at just 2:36 of the first round via choke hold submission.
There was a bit of confusion on Hager’s part as Jones had tapped and referee Mike Beltran moved in to break the hold. Hager kept the choke hold applied and Beltran literally had to pry Hager off his opponent before he let go of the hold.
Beltran was not at all happy and yelled at Hager to move over to his corner while he checked on the submitted Jones. Hager looked confused when he moved back to talk with his team.
Jones quickly recovered and came over to congratulate the former Jack Swagger on his victory.
Beltran also came over for a quick discussion and Hager informed the referee and said he though it was his opponent trying to break the hold, not Beltran.
During the post fight interview, the crowd in attendance began booing him, which only encouraged Hager to continue playing the bad guy role. He did state that he thought it was his opponent trying to break the hold and didn’t mean any disrespect. Hager had been coached to not let go of the hold until he won the match, something he didn’t immediately realized had happened.
Hager continued telling the fans to boo him as he conducted his interview, thanking his family and coaches.
While Jones enjoyed his time in the match, including taking his time and dancing to the octagon it was clearly a mismatch.
The commentary team addressed the issue of the skill and conditioning gap between the two fighters during the introduction stating that the promotion builds up its fighters before throwing them into matches with more experienced opponents. This felt like a shot at the UFC for their handling of CM Punk, who was mentioned by name during the entrances of both fighters.
Hager improves to 2-0 and has looked great in both appearances. The biggest knock on those two wins is that he has faced fighters far less skilled than he clearly is. Bellator has done a slow build with his opponents while their prospect continues training and improving.
The fighting promotion can probably feature him with another novice professional fighter but will soon need to ramp up Hager’s competition to truly test him. Hager trains at former pro-wrestler Dave Bautista’s MMA gym and based on the opponents he has faced during his Bellator career, Hager has probably had tougher sparring partners than Jones or JW Kiser.