Off the Beaten Path

By Trula Howe Sep 11, 2013
Photo Courtesy: One FC

Jake Butler left a career on Wall Street to
pursue his competitive calling.
Jake Butler left the world of the Bear and the Bull to embrace the world of the sprawl and brawl.

Butler will make his third appearance inside the One Fighting Championship cage on Saturday in Jakarta, Indonesia, where he will face Canadian James Kouame in a light heavyweight clash at One FC 10 “Kojima vs. Leone.” The event’s undercard will stream live and free to Sherdog.com at 7:30 a.m. ET/4:30 a.m. PT.

Butler’s story -- that of a Wall Street professional who gave up his financial career to pursue mixed martial arts -- was covered in mainstream media outlets like “The Wall Street Journal,” the “New York Post” and “Newsday.” When he left his job in 2008, Butler moved to Southeast Asia without any clear direction.

In 2011, he saw an advertisement for a wrestling coach in Singapore. As a two-time captain of the Princeton University wrestling team, he had an extensive background upon which to draw, having competed against Mark Munoz, Phil Davis, Jake Rosholt and current Ultimate Fighting Championship middleweight titleholder Chris Weidman in college.

After talking with fellow Ivy Leaguer Chatri Sityodtong, a Harvard University graduate with experience in the investment field, Butler came out for a trial and was offered a position with Evolve MMA. He has been there ever since, coaching alongside onetime Olympian Heath Sims.

Although his time in the world of commerce passed almost five years ago, Butler believes the effort he expended in getting there contributes to all of his successes in the cage.

“The work ethic and discipline required to get through Princeton as a student-athlete has carried over to the rest of my life,” he said. “It was a lot of work and at times a lot of pressure. However, it is really my time spent competing in wrestling that has helped me most in mixed martial arts. The team at Evolve has been great. We all come from different parts of the world, but it does feel like a true family.

Photo: Stephen Martinez/Sherdog.com

Sims (left) is an invaluable resource.
“I learn new wrestling stuff from Heath all the time, and he has helped me a lot in using my wrestling for MMA,” Butler added. “We are always exchanging techniques and working together to improve as a team. Whether it be with the muay Thai world champions at Evolve or the Brazilian jiu-jitsu world champions, I am always learning new stuff.”

Butler has won each of his first two professional bouts by first-round technical knockout. However, Kouame represents his most experienced opponent to date. Though he has only three MMA fights under his belt, he has won four world championships in kickboxing and holds the rank of second dan black belt in Kyokushin karate. Even so, Butler concerns himself more with his own training and development than he does with what the Canadian kickboxer brings to the table.

“Every opponent is different, and I am excited to see what Kouame can do,” he said. “I don’t watch much tape of my opponent, as I leave strategizing to my coaches. I am just focused on getting myself prepared to the best of my abilities.”

That preparation includes two daily training sessions at Evolve MMA: mixed martial arts, grappling and wrestling practice in the morning followed by muay Thai in the afternoon.

“The typical day is grueling during training camp,” Butler said. “By the time I get to my last session of the week on Saturday, I am completely exhausted.”

All Evolve MMA coaches and teammates are available to him during his training camps. However, Butler generally trains under Sityodtong, Sims and muay Thai world champion Chaowilt Jocky Gym. He expects to follow an aggressive strategy against Kouame, who has never fought outside of his native Canada.

“I really can’t say when the fight will end,” Butler said, “but if I have the opportunity to finish him in the first round, I am definitely taking it.”

While Butler has found fulfillment in the cage, he prefers to focus on the short term.

“I am taking it one step at a time,” he said. “I really enjoy what I’m doing here in Asia. I am fighting for the largest MMA organization in Asia in One FC, and I’m part of the best MMA gym in Asia with Evolve MMA. I just want to continue getting better and improving every day.”

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