In his debut year as a professional competitor in mixed martial arts, Jake Butler fought four times over the span of nine months. Leading into his Oct. 18 bout in his new hometown of Singapore, the NCAA Division I wrestler was riding a three-fight winning streak. He had fans in the jam-packed Singapore Indoor Stadium cheering him on, but things didn’t exactly go as planned.

Butler suffered a second-round knockout loss to French fighter Sylvain Potard. It didn’t discourage him, though. A born competitor will compete, that’s just how the story goes. A loss opens up a new avenue to a win, and that’s exactly what Butler has before him on July 11 at ONE FC 18 in Taipei, Taiwan.

Butler (Dean Marchand/Sherdog)

Butler (Dean Marchand/Sherdog)

“It’s been a pretty long layoff—it’s been about eight months,” Butler explained to The MMA Corner. “I’m more than ready, and I’m excited to get back in there and represent Evolve MMA and be on ONE FC’s first show in Taiwan. I won’t allow myself to feel extra pressure, but any time that I go out there I want to put on a good performance and I want to entertain the fans. ONE FC is growing here in Asia, and it’s important that every time we go in there we not only go in to win the fight, but we also put on a good display of MMA, to fight with an exciting style and give the fans a good first taste of ONE FC. And for some fans, it’s probably their first taste of live MMA.”

In his last foray in the ONE FC cage, Butler came out with his first professional loss. He had finished all three of his previous bouts within the very first round. Confidence for Butler was at an all-time high.

“I was obviously really disappointed in my performance,” Butler admitted. “I think for me, maybe, it was because of a lack of experience in MMA. I made a lot of mistakes in terms of how I approached the fight. I didn’t really stick to the game plan and the way we trained. I guess I went in there and I was a little too relaxed. I made a mistake, I got caught with a good punch, and that was it. I learned a lot, and in the long run it was probably the best thing for me, to learn that lesson and get back into training. I think I’ve made the necessary adjustments and improvement since then.”

Singapore’s Evolve MMA has quickly become the training destination for fighters from around the globe. Many competitors from the UFC and Bellator have made the trip to train with the very best fighters of the region. Fighters like Demetrious Johnson, Emanuel Newton, Tyrone Spong and Tyron Woodley are all spending time with the world-class team at Evolve.

“It’s great, and it really shows what we’re doing at Evolve is building a great team, a great camp and academy where these people wanna come over and train with us,” Butler said. “They want to see what Evolve MMA is all about. For me, as a fighter, is awesome to get the chance to mix it up with these top-level MMA guys from UFC, from Bellator and from all the top organizations. It’s a great opportunity for me to learn and test myself and see where I’m at. For the past week or so, we’ve had Emanuel Newton out here and I’ve just been getting some great work in with him, and it’s a great opportunity.”

In Butler’s return to the ONE FC cage on Friday, he’ll stand opposite another seasoned veteran in Mohamed Ali, who sports almost four times the amount of fights as Butler.

Butler (L) (Dean Marchand/Sherdog)

Butler (L) (Dean Marchand/Sherdog)

“I’m aware he’s got a lot of experience. I know that he’s gonna be in there and he’s gonna be ready to fight. He’s a pretty aggressive guy, and I expect him to come out there and bring the fight to me,” Butler admitted. “That being said, I’m pretty confident with my preparation. I’ve been competing my whole life at a high level in wrestling. MMA is different, but it’s not that different. I think that there’s a lot that I can take over from wrestling into MMA, and I think in my four fights I’ve learnt quite a lot.”

“I’m looking forward to getting in there and I guess redeeming myself. I want to prove to myself and to everybody else that I’m the top light heavyweight in ONE FC and I can put on an exciting show, and I’m looking to getting out there and finishing the guy.”

The first fight back from defeat is always the most important one. Making a statement is certainly on Butler’s mind leading into his first fight for 2014. However, it’s more important to walk out with the win. For some, the pressure might be overwhelming, but for a seasoned competitor, it’s just like another day on the mats. Sometimes a wrestler will lose a match here and there. After all, a wrestling season is one of the most arduous things in modern sport. It’s not always about winning and losing, though. It’s about learning. On July 11, Butler gets to show exactly what he has learned.

Jake would like to thank the entire Evolve family, the staff, students, instructors and his teammates. Follow Butler on Twitter: @JakeFB

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.