Exclusive Interview with the Evolve Fight Team's Jake Butler

We recently sat down with Evolve Fight Team member Jake Butler to discuss his background, transition to MMA, and upcoming ONE FC debut.  Jake will be fighting at ONE FC: Return of Warriors on February 2nd in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.  Check out the entire Evolve MMA exclusive interview below.

Let’s start off with a brief bio of Jake Butler.  Who are you?

I am from a small beach town in New Jersey called Point Pleasant Beach.  It is now known as the “Jersey Shore”, but I promise it’s really nothing like the show.  I have 2 brothers, one older and one younger.  We all grew up wrestling from an early age.  It is amazing our house is still standing after all the wrestling matches that have broken out from the staircase to the Sunday dinner table and just about every other corner of the house.  I was fortunate enough to excel at wrestling in high school and I was able to continue my wrestling career at Princeton University.  I graduated with a degree in economics, the dismal science.  After graduation I moved to New York City and regretfully worked in finance.  After NYC I came to Asia, and happily ended up at Evolve MMA.  Outside of mixed martial arts, I love surfing.  I have been surfing as long as I have been wrestling and been on surf trips all throughout Central America (Costa Rica, Panama, Nicaragua, El Salvador) and Indonesia (Bali, Lombok, Java).

Tell us a little about your wrestling background, when did you start, why, etc.

I can’t even remember my exact age when I started wrestling, but it was young, maybe 8 years old.  I had an older brother who got involved, and I naturally followed.  Where I come from wrestling is a huge sport, and so just about every kid gives it a try at some point.  By the time I was 12 years old I was completely hooked.  It was all I wanted to do.  I was lucky to have some great coaches and with their guidance had a pretty good High School and University wrestling career.

What are the biggest lessons you learned from wrestling?

Wrestling taught me the value of hard work, discipline, team work, integrity, and most importantly how to set a goal and dedicate myself to achieving it.  There are lots of up and downs in wrestling.  There is no better feeling than winning, and none worse than losing.  You learn how to deal with failure, and come back stronger.  I believe this applies for all martial arts. 

How have you found the transition from wrestling to MMA?

It is definitely challenging.  Wrestling serves as a solid base from which to transition, but I have to work hard to develop my Muay Thai, BJJ, and boxing.  Then I have to figure out how to put it all together for MMA.  Some things transition across disciplines very well, others not at all.  Luckily, I am at Evolve MMA, which I believe is the best possible place for me to make the transition.  I get to work daily with World Champions in Muay Thai, BJJ, and boxing.  For MMA I get to work with Heath Sims, who was an Olympic wrestler and he has fought, trained with, and coached some of the best mixed martial artists in the world.  I still have to put in the time and hard work, but at Evolve MMA they make sure I am moving in the right direction.

So what brought you from the Jersey Shore to Evolve MMA in Singapore?

I was working in Asia, and naturally had heard all about Evolve MMA and the Evolve Fight Team.  I reached out to Kru Chatri, explained my situation and background.  After quite a few conversations, he invited me to come to Singapore and try out for the team.  I spent a few days training with the team, which was extremely difficult at the time!  Everyone on the team is in fighting shape year round.  I spoke a lot with Chatri and the rest of the Evolve team, and was ultimately offered a spot on the team.  I accepted immediately, and here I am. 

On February 2nd you will make your MMA debut at ONE FC: Return of Warriors, how is your preparation thus far?

Everything is going great!  My training camp has been perfectly organized, and I am feeling the best I ever have.  It is intense and there are days when it is a struggle to get through, but that is how it should be.  My coaches and training partners on the Evolve Fight Team have put a lot of time in to helping me prepare, and I am very grateful to them.  I have also had UFC fighter Tom Lawlor here working with me.  Training with Tom has been a great experience, and I have learned a lot.  I can’t wait for February 2nd!

What does your weekly training schedule look like?

Long and grueling!  I train twice a day 6 days a week at the Evolve Fighter’s Program.  The mornings are usually focused on MMA.  We do some grappling, BJJ, wrestling, and straight MMA.  The afternoons are more focused on striking.  I do a lot of Muay Thai.  On top of that, I mix in some stength and conditioning workouts 2-3 days a week.  Sunday is my much needed rest day.

What do you think of your opponent, Antoni Romulo, a wrestling champion from Indonesia?

I don’t know much about him, other than he is a tough wrestler.  My focus is 100% on doing what I do best, and imposing my game plan on him.  As a wrestler, I expect him to be tough and in great shape.  I am prepared for a tough fight.

Any predictions on how the fight will go?

You never know what will happen in MMA.  I am prepared for everything. 

Any last words?

Yes, thank you to everyone at Evolve MMA!  Coaches, teammates, staff, and students!  I am honored to be representing you at ONE FC: Return of Warriors.

Jake defends an elbow from UFC fighter Tom Lawlor.

Jake and Tom Lawlor training at the Evolve Fighter's Program.
Jake working technique with UFC fighter Tom Lawlor.

Evolve Mixed Martial Arts® is Asia's premier brand of MMA academies. With World Champions in Muay Thai, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Mixed Martial Arts, Boxing, Wrestling, and No Gi Grappling, Evolve MMA is the top martial arts training organization in Asia. It ranks among the best martial arts academies in the world.