J.W. Kiser had the opportunity of a lifetime last weekend. The Leavenworth resident got to fight at the iconic Forum arena in California on the main card of Bellator 214.
Kiser was matched up with Jake Hager, a standout college and WWE wrestler who also goes by ”Jack Swagger.”
Hager and Kiser were the main card heavyweight fight for the Bellator fight.
The bout was quick and Hager won his first MMA fight over Kiser.
After the loss, Kiser said he was bummed.
“I’m obviously still pretty bummed about everything,” Kiser said. “Just not winning. I do feel like I had the situation in hand. I wasn’t sweating. When I take in this loss and find a way to accept the opportunities that I won’t have and embrace the opportunities to come, I will remember this. I truly had the most amazing experience of my life.”
Kiser spent five days in California where he said he got treated like a “king” visiting the sets at CBS Studio Center, including “Entertainment Tonight.” He got to see singer Robin Thicke, did multiple interviews and got to fight at the Forum. Kiser brought up how Muhammad Ali once fought there. Kiser fought in front of a large crowd at the Forum with more watching on TV and online. On top of that, Kiser got to meet and spend time with actor Chris Pratt. Meeting Pratt was one of the moments that Kiser said stood out the most.
“Getting to meet Chris Pratt was pretty big,” he said. “Like it is crazy. They matched up two fighters to each dressing room. I got matched up with Adel Altamimi and Altamimi was the guy that Pratt was there for. I had my earphones on. I was getting ready for war. The nerves of the fight, I just tried to keep my head clear and think about other stuff.
“The room was packed and he and I were just trying to warm up. He had his coaches which you get three people, I had my three people and then there were these two other guys with crew passes on and I looked over and was like ‘Hey, that guy looks kind of like the dude for ‘Guardians of the Galaxy.’ But I thought there was no way. That dude is a huge actor. So I’m just sitting there, got my hood up, and thinking that (guy) could be his twin so I looked up a picture and texted one of my guys on the other side of the room and I was like ‘This dude totally looks like Chris Pratt.’ And he was like ‘Who’s Chris Pratt?’ And I said it was the dude from ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ and he’s like ‘Oh yeah, he does kind of look like him. The dude said he was an actor.’ So I looked over at (Pratt) and took my headphones off and said ‘Bro, what’s your name?’ He said ‘Chris’ and I said ‘Chris Pratt?’ He said yes.”
Kiser said the actor was a “regular guy” and not one of the actors that are just scared of his fans. Kiser said they were just talking as he and Altamimi prepared for their fights. Before Kiser’s fight, Pratt prayed with Kiser.
Along with meeting Pratt, Kiser also said the experience of walking out for the fight to the end of the fight was his favorite moment.
“If I had to pick one, I would definitely say just the experience,” Kiser said. “From walking out to the fight for those two minutes and nine seconds, whatever it was, I was the king of the world. Millions were watching me on TV. I don’t want to make it sound like this big ego trip because it wasn’t. It was just everything I worked for in my life came to that moment. I was just 14 when I started boxing in Worland, Wyoming. I always dreamed of being able to fight in boxing or whatever. Being a fighter, gladiator, coming in and fighting in a situation just like that. My dream came true. That moment, I savor every second of it. That was two minutes of the most amazing time in my life. When you start at 14 and you make it to 41, and that’s when you make it, you know you’ve made it and no matter what happens you are immortal.”
Kiser also had people and organizations he wanted to thank for the help and support they gave him during this training.
He thanked Luigi’s Restaurant, Str8 Edge Barber Shop, Dad’s Toys, Suciogainz and The Groggery.
“I want to thank the local businesses for helping out,” he said. “And helping me with my medicals and all that.”
He also thanked Fort Leavenworth and the support he has received from the military.
Kiser’s next move with MMA is not set in stone yet. He said Bellator called him Monday night to keep time open later this year for a possible second fight and Kiser also talked about local fights. He also still has his own MMA company that he runs. Universal Combat League has brought numerous fights to the area over the past year. However, Kiser’s mindset right now is vacation. With planning the UCL fights and his own fights, he said it is time for a break.
“We leave for Puerto Rico in the morning for a much-needed vacation,” Kiser said. “And I’m not thinking about anything at all for 12 days.”