James Haskell Jokes His Grandma Is Perfect First Bellator Opponent
Just four years ago James Haskell was in England's World Cup squad for the home tournament in which they disappointed. As Eddie Jones' side get ready for their assault on this summer's tournament Haskell is starting a whole new career as an MMA fighter.
In August Bellator announced that former flanker Haskell had signed a deal to fight for them, with his debut expected sometime next year.
SPORTbible spoke exclusively to Haskell, an ambassador for new rugby format Rugby X, about his new career and the 34-year-old revealed his dream opponent, joking, "My grandma. Because it's an easy win, why the f*ck would I pick someone who is going to batter me?"
But in all seriousness the former Wasps player isn't looking that far ahead, adding, "It's a progressive process, I don't care who I fight first, I just do what my coaches tell me. I honestly haven't thought about it. My main interest is getting through the sessions and learning as much as I can.
Haskell only retired from rugby in May but clearly a life of testing himself is the motive behind the decision to move from one sports career to another, "I wanted to test myself. I've always enjoyed the sport. I got the opportunity out of the blue to give it a go.
"I think for me it's about living your life and having a journey and to test myself in a physical way. See if I can fight, if I want to fight. I'll be able to open up a whole new audience to myself, to be an individual sportsman for the first time in my life, to test myself mentally and to enjoy a process and get paid to fight."
'Hask,' whose career took him to France, New Zealand and Japan as a player believes that there's little difference preparing for a individual sport compared the team sport he used to be part of, explaining, "The best rugby players in the world are self reliant.
"Eddie Jones once talked about in the England squad he wanted a team of self reliant players and how many of us were in there. I always thought I was self reliant. I always paid to see my own physio and own nutritionist and always did everything to be the best player I could be and I just applying the same logic to MMA.
"I've surrounded myself to great coaches. I've obviously had to do all the things, speak to psychologists, look after my diet, sort out my training but I've been through it all once and hopefully apply the same thing to be successful in Bellator."
Can Haskell apply his success in rugby to being successful in MMA, only time will tell. For now his grandma better get training.
Tickets for RugbyX, on October 29 at the O2 Arena are available here https://www.rugbyx.com/tickets/