Jake Hager stepped into the Bellator MMA cage for the first time in more than a year Thursday night, picking up a split decision win over Brandon Calton to remain undefeated.
Two judges scored the fight 29-28 for Hager to give him the win in his first fight that went past the first round.
The fight looked like one contested between two heavyweights that are still learning how to punch with a combined five professional bouts and with no real gas tanks to speak of.
Both were bloodied up with Hager (3-0-1) looking more worse for the wear with cuts under his left eye, his nose, and his ear. His right eye was also swollen.
Calton (2-1) landed the most significant strike of the fight in the second round, a right hand that knocked Hager's mouthpiece clear across the cage. He couldn't follow up though and the round ended. Of note, Hager's mouthpiece came out of his mouth every round.
Almost to form, Hager punched Calton low in the third round while the two were clinched up against the cage. The last time Hager fought ended in a no contest due to repeated low blows which he made into a calling card early in his AEW run.
Hager had the AEW logo on the front of his fight tights and wore an Inner Circle t-shirt to the cage. His fight was the featured prelim on the company's YouTube pre-show.
The event was held at Connecticut's Mohegan Sun Arena where Bellator has held all of their domestic events since returning to post-pandemic action.