MMA sensation leaves corporate job for octagon

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By Rick Olivares

I caught Jake Butler last February during the One FC: Return of Warriors in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, where he knocked out Indonesia’s Antoni Romulo in the first round. Whether overmatched or outclassed, I was impressed with Butler’s technique and aggressive style of fighting.

Then two months later, he also dispatched Saipan’s Swain Cangco quickly and quite brutally in another first round knockout during One FC: Kings and Champions in Singapore. And I knew I just had to interview this MMA newbie who owns a degree in Economics from Princeton and was working in Wall Street before he made the life-changing decision to become a MMA fighter and to live in Southeast Asia.

I spoke with Butler briefly during the weigh in at the Cathay mall in Singapore. This interview is a more expanded version of that although it was conducted about three weeks ago.

Rick: Was it an easy decision to leave a corporate job for fighting out a gym in Singapore?

Jake Butler: Absolutely. I woke up with a sense of dread everyday while I was working in finance. it was not something I could foresee myself doing for a long time while I was in my 20s and 30s. My competitive fire was still burning. I can compete now and go back to my office job later. 

Rick: Do you like living in Southeast Asia?

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Jake Butler: I love living in Southeast Asia. The sun, the people, the culture is all amazing and I have the privilege of competing in several different countries. I have fought in Kuala Lumpur, Singapore and will fight in Jakarta next. My next target will be to compete in Manila. 

Rick: What have your friends back in New York/New Jersey say about your growing MMA career?

Jake Butler: They have all been very supportive of my career change. They always send their encouragement and I know there’s a small viewing party early in the morning in New York every time I compete. 

Rick: What aspect of your game are you trying to improve on?

Jake Butler: I am working tirelessly to bring my Muay Thai and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu up to speed. There is no better place to train them than here at Evolve, where we have a collection of  world champions in both martial arts. 

Rick: Is there anyone you would like to fight soon? 

Jake Butler: There are tons of great guys in One FC right now, but I’m not into calling out people. I trust my coaches to give me the best advice and I know One FC will match me up with the best guys. 

Rick: In your two One FC fights, the crowd responded very well to your fights. In fact, I can say having seen the last five One FC events that you’re sort of like a crowd favorite. The wins and the adulation, does that justify what you’re doing now as a MMA fighter?

Jake Butler: I am very humble and honored that the One FC fans have chosen to get behind me and it means a lot to me. However, I am not one of the guys who needs the adulation to fuel them. I am very self-motivated in everything I do and MMA is no different. 

Rick: At 2-0 you are up against Canadian James Kouame who has a 1-1 record. He’s a stand up fighter. Without giving anything away, how do you see this fight?

Jake Butler: I will need to get into the One FC cage and test myself against him to really find out how the fight will go. I’m not big into making predictions but I want to finish the fight as soon as I can and it will be a huge coup to get another first round finish.

 

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