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February 19, 2019



Jake “The Bull” Bagley has had a mythical reputation within the Maine wrestling community for well over a decade, but when he made his mixed martial arts (MMA) debut at “NEF 37: Sub Zero” on February 1st in Bangor, a whole new legion of fans learned his name—fight fans. That’s because Bagley, a multiple-time state champion wrestler, brought the house down in his back-and-forth, fist-tastic battle with Canada’s Brady Macdonald. Bagley discussed his NEF MMA debut recently with Bryan Stackpole and Ryan Jarrell on the Between Rounds Radio podcast.

 Bagley, now 25-years-old, grew-up wrestling for perennial powerhouse Noble High School in North Berwick, Maine, where he won two state championships. During his time on the mat, Bagley earned a reputation as a relentless competitor that never hesitated to bump up in weight to face the toughest challengers he could find at both the state and national levels. Blessed with a relentless desire to constantly test his abilities, Bagley’s interests naturally progressed to MMA at a young age.

 “When I was 15, I believe I was a sophomore, I heard there was cage fighting going on in Berwick, Maine,” Bagley told Stackpole and Jarrell. “I went down and checked it out and that’s the first day I met Bill Jones. I was 15-years-old and I walked into Hall Brother’s Roofing and they’re out there behind a storage unit place, in a garage bay training. Ever since that day, Bill’s been kicking my ass and pushing me to it. In the last couple of months, I finally got serious about it and decided to do it.”

 Bagley’s NEF debut earlier this month came against a fighter that had proven himself to be a wrestler’s kryptonite. Canada’s Brady Macdonald needed only 15-seconds to force multiple-time New Hampshire state champion Greg Waterbury to tap when he debuted with the promotion in June 2018. Early into his bout with Bagley, it looked like history might repeat itself when Macdonald was able to secure Bagley’s back during the first round. Bagley, however, would have none of it.

 “He caught me with that first overhand right right at the beginning of the fight and then it clicked—I realized I was in a fight,” Bagley recounted. “My adrenaline went up. I couldn’t have been happier. It was everything that I was looking for.”

 Bagley fought off the choke and then, the fight was on. A frenetic, high-paced free-for-all followed that had all 1200 fans in the building on their feet.

 “As soon as I realized how hard he could hit, I had no fear—I was going forward,” Bagley stated.

 “I didn’t realize how many times he actually hit me until I saw the video,” Bagley continued. “That’s a big thing—I need to keep my hands up.”

 One of the most dangerous moments of the fight for Bagley came when he found himself caught in a deep heel hook.

 “I look at the video now and I see my foot facing down and my knee facing up and it definitely hurt,” Bagley explained. “He had it in there tight and I’m glad I got through it.”

 “I didn’t notice anybody but Brady that night. When I was in there I couldn’t hear coaches yelling, I couldn’t hear fans yelling. It was awesome. It was pure focus because I knew if I wasn’t focusing he was going to catch me like I was catching him.”

 Now, a couple of weeks removed from his head-turning debut, the bumps and bruises have healed, but for Bagley—and the fans that were fortunate enough to witness it—the magic of the moment has not been forgotten.

 “I’ve wrestled on a couple of national stages, but the emotion and the stuff after that fight… I still feel it today,” Bagley said.

 “It feels amazing,” he continued. “I’ve always been a competitor and I’ve always trained my entire life. I didn’t do much the last five years—I had a couple of kids and started a family. When I just got back into the gym it was like riding a bike. Once I get going, there’s not going to be anybody to stop me.”

 Once again fully committed to a competition lifestyle, Bagley is ready to start racking up the wins the same way he did on the wrestling mat.

 “I feel that now that I’m in it, I have that drive and motivation that I don’t think many people are going to be able to compete with,” he said. “I’ve got unnatural athletic ability and my determination is going to be hard to match—I don’t care who you are.”

 “I will fight anybody that wants to accept a fight with me,” he continued. “That’s how I feel. If I want to be the best, I’m going to go against the best. I’ll take on anybody right now.”

 “I plan on doing big things.”

 NEF's next mixed-martial-arts event, "NEF 38: STORMBORN," will take place on Saturday, April 27, 2019 at Aura in Portland, Maine with a bell time of 7 pm.  Tickets are on sale now at