James Haskell joins Bellator as heavyweight MMA fighter

James Haskell
James Haskell won 77 caps for England

Former England rugby union international James Haskell has signed a deal to fight with mixed martial arts promotion Bellator MMA.

The 34-year-old is expected to make his debut as a heavyweight next year.

The former Wasps and Northampton Saints flanker, who won 77 caps for England, retired from rugby in May.

Haskell has previously trained with British MMA fighter Michael 'Venom' Page and worked as a television pundit covering MMA.

Bellator say 6ft 4in Haskell will continue his training this year with his first fight "expected to take place during the first half of 2020".

Haskell says his interest in MMA goes back a decade and in an interview during his rugby career said it "builds strength and endurance and has helped me to manipulate and move people on the rugby pitch".

He told Joe.ie at the time that he would "like to compete" in MMA and that it commands similar discipline to rugby.

Haskell played in the past two World Cups and won three Six Nations with England, including the Grand Slam in 2016.

But he struggled with ankle and toe problems while playing for Northampton last season and announced his decision to retire after a 17-year professional career in May.

James Haskell
Haskell had hoped to be part of England's 2019 Rugby World Cup squad before injury ended his career

Top Stories