first two fights were against people who had almost the same level
of experience as him. T.J. Jones had
only two fights while J.W. Kiser had
one. Both were Bellator
MMA debutants and Hager defeated them by arm triangle. More
recently, the accomplished collegiate wrestling standout from
Perry, Oklahoma, faced his most experienced opponent yet, the 4-2
Garrett, who was also making his Bellator debut.
In an anticlimactic turn of events, the fight didn’t even last two
minutes. Hager was absorbing the highest volume of punches in his
young MMA career before landing a low-blow knee on Garrett. He
landed yet another groin shot after that, and so the fight was
stopped and ruled a No Contest by referee Dan Miragliotta. As Hager
reflects on how the fight played out, here are five things you
might not know about him.
1. He is an accomplished school athlete.
Hager is quite an athlete. Most people are aware of his amateur
wrestling background, but he really wasn’t your average high school
or collegiate wrestler. In fact, in 1999, he was ranked fifth in
his division by USA Wrestling. He captured the Oklahoma State title
as a junior and later joined the Junior National USA team. Hager
also played football. Representing Perry High School, he tallied 45
tackles and six sacks in just three games as a junior.
Long before Velasquez and Hager dominated their respective fields
as professionals, the two wrestlers met twice in NCAA competition
and split victories. The match won by Hager lasted more than 20
minutes, with multiple overtimes, in what was one of the longest
matches in the collegiate wrestling organization’s history. In the
end, Hager got his hand raised.
3. He has a degree in Finance.
Hager graduated in 2006 with a degree in Finance. Even before his
graduation march, Hager was already noticed by Jim Ross, then the
Head of Talent Relations for the WWE. Ross encouraged him to finish
college and just give him a call once he graduated. And that’s
exactly what he did. On the day he was about to sign a contract
with a finance firm, he also received the WWE contract in the mail.
As we all know, Hager followed his heart.
4. He once appeared as a security guard in a WWE event.
Before doing his own thing in the WWE, Hager appeared on a RAW
event as a security guard for the match between John Cena and
Umaga. He officially made his debut in Deep South Wrestling, a
developmental organization that worked in tandem with the WWE for a
period of time. He would go on to claim the WWE World Heavyweight
Championship by beating Chris Jericho and the United States
Championship by defeating Zack Ryder.
5. He is married to a fellow pro wrestler.
Hager is married to Catalina White, also known as Saylor James, of
the WWE's developmental territory, Florida Championship Wrestling.
But that was before she even met Hager. White was a model who has
been featured in FHM, Maxim and Complex. They married in Dec. 2010
and now have two kids, Knox Stribling and Presley Pearl.