Jake Hager, who won gold in the WWE while competing as Jack Swagger, believes his opponent at Bellator 231 wanted out of their bout. Hager and Anthony Garrett had their heavyweight contest stopped due to accidental illegal strikes by Hager on Garrett in the first round.
Following two low blows, the referee stepped in and the cageside doctor called an end to the bout. Due to the strikes being declared accidental, it went down in the record books as a no-contest instead of a disqualification loss for Hager.
"I'm obviously disappointed with the finish," Hager said (thanks to MMA Fighting for the quotes). "I didn't think I kneed him at all. We all have cups out there. I didn't feel a cup. I saw his leg lift up from the knee. But I can't control that it's something I have to move on from.
"I'm here to fight and I just don't think he was."
Hager had scored first round finishes in his first two Bellator fights, besting T.J. Jones and J.W. Kiser via submission. The former Oklahoma football and wrestling standout signed with Bellator in 2017, and recently joined All Elite Wrestling, as well.
"I felt like it was going to come to an end soon," Hager said of the bout with Garrett. "He was a strong guy. I had him up against the cage, he was clinching on me trying to avoid the wrestling - which is smart - but I feel like I was leaps and bounds ahead of him. It would've been only a matter of time before something landed and dropped him."