Jack Swagger is moving to the cage.
Jack Swagger is moving to the cage.

WWE champ announces surprise switch

Former WWE star Jake "Jack Swagger" Hagen has joined the ever growing pool of ex-wrestlers trying their hand in the cage.

Hagen on Tuesday announced he'd be making his MMA debut in January at Bellator 214 in Inglewood, California.

He will face 1-1-0 heavyweight John Wayne (JW) Kisner before the highly anticipated main event, which sees veterans Fedor Emelianenko and Ryan Bader duke it out for the heavyweight title.

"I think my career will be a lot longer than most people imagine, in mixed martial arts," the 2m giant told MMA journalist Ariel Helwani.

"I have nothing to prove. I'm doing this for me and my family. I know I belong and you will see that I do when I step in the cage."

The announcement came at the end of a long breadcrumb trail from the 36-year-old, who repeatedly teased an MMA bombshell throughout the year.

"It's coming very close. I'm looking at it like I'm at the beginning of the season right now. At the end of the season will be the fight," he said in August. "I think it's going to be around December, January, maybe even November. It's all depending on when we can get our schedules to work and when the team tells me I'm ready. I just come in and train every day. But definitely 2018."

A glittering debut and a large amount of good fortune could lead to Swagger snagging a shot at the UFC, where WWE behemoth Brock Lesnar is currently shaking things up.

A lot rides on Swagger's success. The disastrous MMA debut of former wrestler CM Punk left a lot wanting for fans after a massive hype train ended in a first round yawn-fest at UFC 203.