UFC Ultimate Fighter 1 alumni Josh Rafferty is one of the trainers for former WWE star Jake Hager, who made his professional MMA debut this weekend at Bellator 214.
The now retired fighter has been involved with pro wrestling for quite some time now and started training some wrestlers thanks to a friendship with former WWE Champion Dave Batista.
“There was a period of time when I finished up my MMA career that I got involved in pro wrestling myself, so I got trained in pro wrestling and learned how to work matches and stuff. I became friends with a lot of the guys, then in 2011…I moved down to Tampa with Dave Batista to start a gym. Everybody knows that a lot of people in the wrestling business live in Tampa, from there I just started training a lot of the guys and a lot of guys started working with me. So I built a good relationship with a lot of the guys in the WWE, helping them out with a lot of their cross training,” says Rafferty in an exclusive interview with Fightful’s James Lynch.
Rafferty went 9-8-0 as a professional MMA fighter, having experience competing in both the UFC and Bellator MMA.
Some pro wrestlers have issues transitioning to professional MMA, but Rafferty says that transition wasn’t a problem for Hager.
“I feel like it was really smooth, twelve years away from competition is hard though. We had to get him back to competing in the ring and on the mats, had to get him used to competing again. Because entertain, pro wrestling is completely different…you know what I mean? It’s night and day, I thought the transition was smooth. He was in there…at first it was a little difficult because he was on the road still wrestling every weekend and stuff, but once he started camp…he got into awesome shape. He really brought it man, he was great and it was really smooth I think,” says Rafferty.
Bellator 214 takes place on Saturday, January 26 from The Forum in Inglewood, California with Ryan Bader and Fedor Emelianenko headlining. Fightful is providing live coverage of the event, which airs live on the Paramount Network.