The lines of mixed martial arts and professional wrestling were blurred as Jake Hager got into the octagon against Anthony Garrett at Bellator 231. While Hager has a 2-0 record in MMA, he is also wrestling in All Elite Wrestling. Making a surprise appearance at the end of AEW’s first TNT episode a few weeks ago, Hager is currently the enforcer to Chris Jericho’s newly formed “Inner Circle” heel stable.

In their fight, Hager landed a couple close shots to Garrett’s groin but the fight continued. At almost two minutes into the fight, Hager landed a knee squarely into Garrett and the fight ended in a no contest, ruling that Hager’s low blow was accidental.


With one industry being a legit sporting competition and the other having predetermined storylines and results, it’s a risk to blend MMA and pro wrestling. While it could be beneficial for both Bellator and AEW to cross promote, it’s possible for MMA fans to see the pro wrestler in the octagon and wonder what’s real and what’s not. It could also cause pro wrestling fans to negatively look at other pro wrestlers who aren’t competing in the “real” MMA.

Considering Hager is a pro wrestler, some will speculate if this was part of the “story” and since Hager is a heel and his Inner Circle mates (sans Chris Jericho) were ringside, Hager used the opportunity to enhance his heel status on the show that he’s on each week.

That kind of thought process where Hager, Garrett, and Bellator sat down and devised this plan would probably veer into conspiracy theory territory but there’s no doubt Hager and AEW will be using this on Dynamite to make Hager a bigger heel. And given the added publicity from AEW and in pro wrestling circles, Bellator may take advantage of this as well if and when Hager fights for them again.

Whatever the case, Hager remains undefeated in MMA but under controversial circumstances and that’ll increase his standing whether that’s in a sporting contest like Bellator or in a predetermined storyline like AEW.

About Phillip Bupp

Producer/editor of the Awful Announcing Podcast and Short and to the Point. News editor for The Comeback and Awful Announcing. Highlight consultant for Major League Soccer as well as a freelance writer for hire. Opinions are my own but feel free to agree with them.

Follow me on Twitter and Instagram @phillipbupp