As a society, we are conditioned to believe that furthering education equates to success in life. Going through a degree, getting a job and then putting on a nicely pressed suit along with a tie is something that some people can only do a finite number of times before they begin to get hungry for something else. It’s human nature.

In the eyes of some people, Jake Butler had an ideal position in life. A university degree meant that he had a job on Wall Street. He was essentially “living the dream,” as they say, but with every rung that he climbed on the corporate ladder, all he could do was look down back at what could have been. He may have had a perceived American dream, but that didn’t necessarily mean he had the Jake Butler dream.

“I’d been competing in wrestling for pretty much my entire life, but after I finished my degree at university I just went straight into my career in finance,” Butler explained in an exclusive interview with The MMA Corner. “Part of me had always wanted to know what would happen if I went into mixed martial arts, and I knew that if I worked hard I could definitely make it work. It was something that I always wanted to do, and after a while I really missed being an athlete. It was just a matter of timing as to when I would get back into competing, and I knew that deep down.”

Ask any accomplished wrestler and they will tell you that the hard work that is endured on the path to success is arduous. There really is nothing like the grind that someone goes through both physically and mentally in an attempt to compete at an elite level in the sport. Life skills are picked up throughout training that are rarely forgotten. With such hard work and dedication taught at an early age, it’s no surprise that some of the most successful athletes in mixed martial arts are former wrestlers.

Butler (Evolve MMA)

“There are a lot of things that you learn in wrestling that can be applied to anything you do in life,” Butler admitted. “Certainly, your work ethic and your willingness to train are up there. It also helps you with developing your skills, and there is so just so much personal development that comes from that intense competitive environment that is wrestling.”

Butler picked up his life and moved to southeast Asia in 2008. Gone were the suit and tie. He found himself in a new country, with the desire to once again be a professional athlete. After taking the role of head wrestling coach with Evolve MMA, Butler settled in Singapore. To the untrained eye, the move from America to Singapore would seem like something that would take a lot of getting used to. However, it was the perfect place for Butler to transition from wrestler to fighter.

“It’s not as different as you would think, and it’s not that much of an adjustment,” he admitted. “Anything that I had access to back home, I have just as much access to over here. Singapore is quite an urban city, so it’s not that much different to what I had in Jersey. Everyone over here speaks English, and our whole team [at Evolve MMA] are from all over the world, so we get a great mix of people. The biggest change for me is that I am training in mixed martial arts instead of wearing a suit and a tie and sitting behind a desk.”

Having only started his mixed martial arts journey in 2012, Butler has entered the cage twice this year. Both outings came under the ONE FC banner and had the same outcome: his hand was raised with first-round TKOs. Having only made his cage debut at the beginning of the year at the age of 30, things are certainly beginning to pick up for the NCAA Division I wrestler. Butler’s next bout is on Sept. 13, when he faces James Kouame on the ONE FC 10 card in Jakarta, Indonesia.

“It would have been nice to have started earlier,” he admitted. “But, I mean, you look at a lot of these top guys in the sport and they are all nearly their mid-30s. As a professional athlete in the sport, you truly start to peak in your late 20s to mid-30s, so I am happy with starting a little later than others.

“I am still developing a lot as a fighter. I want to go in there and showcase everything that I have been working on in training. I have some new skills I want to show the world, and hopefully I can rack up another win as well.”

As Butler’s mixed martial arts career begins to flourish, there is no doubt that he made the right decision in trading in his suit and tie for a pair of mixed martial arts gloves. It would be easy to look back at what was, to think about the coffee breaks, long lunches and business meetings. But when it comes down to it, there is more to life than money and success in the corporate world. Each time that Butler steps foot inside the cage, he shows what living life is really about.

Jake would like to thank Evolve MMA.

Photo: Jake Butler (Evolve MMA)

About The Author

Staff Writer, Australia

Located in Queanbeyan, New South Wales, Neil Rooke has been writing about the sport of MMA since 2011. In the past, Neil has written for Cage Junkies and has written for Fight! Magazine as well as Fist! Fight Magazine. Neil is also a regular contributor to Fight! Magazine Australia and Yahoo! Sports Singapore.