In the surprising news of the century, Bellator promoters have announced the transition of former rugby star James Haskell to MMA. This is after being active in his rugby career for 17 years, where he won 77 caps for his England team. The move was a result of a three-week suspension after James Haskell punched an opponent during the 2012 Super Rugby season. In 2012, Haskell struck Justin Downey, a Cheater’s flanker, two times as he left a scrum.
The 34-year old flanker began his rugby career at Wasps, where he won English Premiership and European Heineken Cup in 2007 and 2008. James later left for Stade Francais in 2009 before spells with the Ricoh Blacks in Japan and the Highlanders in New Zealand. He is no doubt a legend of the game, who would make fans Bet on boxing with Betway, in games or tournaments he took part in.
The news about his transition from rugby to MMA is no longer a rumor since James Haskell already confirmed through his Twitter account about the switch. Before hanging his boots in May 2018, Haskell played in two world cups for England and garnered three six nations trophies.
The move to mixed martial arts does not come as any surprise to James since he has been working with the London Shootfighters gym as a wrestler to help his rugby career. The upcoming fighter will continue training in the same gym together with other professionals such as Michael ‘Venom’ Page, who has been fighting in Bellator since 2013.
While talking about the move from rugby to MMA, Haskell spoke about his intentions to include jiu-jitsu and boxing to his training regime. Though the former rugby star has been training for the last month, he insists that time is still on his side to enter into professional competitions.
Moreover, his promoters Bellators have hinted that James is likely to officially start as a professional MMA fighter in mid-2020, featuring in the heavyweight division. Weighing 260lb and standing 6ft and 4in, James will compete in the same category with Bellator promoters’ current champions such as challenger Cheik Kongo, Ryan Bader, and Josh Barnett.
Bellator promoters boast of veteran heavyweight champions in their ranks, such as Fedor Emelianenko, who is a Russian legend. The sponsors are considered the second-largest MMA promotion globally after UFC. The already-popular sport has made waves in the betting industry, with bookmakers such as Betway giving fans the opportunity to bet.
Similar to what he used to do during his professional rugby career, James Haskell, who used to play as a loose forward, is facing his MMA journey with an equal level of commitment as he had in rugby. However, as James Haskell swaps rugby for MMA, many people have aired their views on the risk and danger for James in this new sport. His fans lament that he wouldn’t be able to handle the physicality of the MMA sport.
When speaking during an interview with sky sports, the former rugby champion talked about how he liked playing rugby despite his wife Chloe Madely concerns about the dangers of the game. Also, he mentioned his wife worries about him joining the MMA sport. Besides, James Haskell said about his immense love for his rugby career and the privilege of playing against various equally qualified players.
Different people are keen on how well James Haskell will transition from rugby to MMA sport.