Hager (3-0 MMA, 3-0 BMMA), a former WWE champion and current AEW star, was forced to dig deep over the course of three rounds and overcome big shots from Calton (2-1 MMA, 0-1 BMMA), but he did the job and earned a split decision by scores of 28-29, 29-28 and 29-28.
The heavyweight bout was part of the Bellator 250 preliminary card at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn. It streamed on MMA Junkie ahead of a main card on CBS Sports Network and DAZN.
The first round was relatively uneventful. Hager looked to get settled in his first fight in a year, while Calton, who is making his third appearance of 2020, looked to start more quickly. Calton didn’t do a whole lot, though, and largely remained stationary as Hager used footwork to circle around the cage on the outside. Hager’s confidence picked up late in the first, and he carried it forward.
Hager really stated to work behind his jab in the second. He picked at Calton with the lead hand, then started to put straight punches and hooks as time wore on. It seemed the fight was trending heavily in Hager’s direction until Calton timed a perfect counter right hand that sent Hager’s mouthpiece flying and put him in trouble. Hager struggled to get his footing as he moved back toward the fence, but he was able to fend off Calton’s follow-up shots in the final seconds and survive until the bell.
The Bone Crusher was coming in strong to close out round 2⃣.
— BellatorMMA (@BellatorMMA) October 29, 2020
Calton was chomping at the bit to get the final round started, but Hager didn’t roll over. He stung Calton with a low kick then a pair of punches. Calton looked as if he wanted to time another big counter punch, but every second that passed allowed Hager to recover. Calton connected with a grazing shot behind the ear, but it didn’t put Hager in serious trouble. Hager closed the distance on Calton in the second half of the round, clinching his opponent against the fence and chipping away with shots. Hager punched Calton in the groin with roughly 90 seconds left, forcing a break in the action. They traded shots down the stretch, with Hager’s nose leaking some blood before the final bell.
Up-to-the-minute Bellator 250 results:
- Jake Hager def. Brandon Calton via split decision (28-29, 29-28, 29-28)
- Sabah Homasi de. Bobby Voelker via knockout (flying knee) – Round 2, 0:20
- Johnny Eblen def. Taylor Johnson via unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27)
- Adam Borics def. Erick Sanchez via unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27)
- Cody Law def. Orlando Ortega via submission (D’Arce choke) – Round 1, 2:41