Jake Butler Looking To Get Back To Winning Ways at ONE: Iron Will

The NCAA Division 1 wrestler faces more experienced opponent on the 24th of March in Bangkok, Thailand.

Jake Butler (7-2) is an American wrestler competing for ONE Championship, and on the 24th of March he will fight his 10th professional fight at ONE Championship 68: Iron Will. He will be looking to get back in the winners column after losing his last fight in August of 2015 against Polish fighter Marcin Parchnio (13-3)

In February MMAnytt travelled to Phuket, Thailand to get an inside look at AKA Thailand and got a chance to sit down with Butler and have a chat about his background, the road leading up to the fight in Bangkok and his thoughts on opponent Gilberto “Giba” Galvão (30-6-1).

About Jake Butler

Butler started wrestling at 8 years old at Point Pleasant, New Jersey, wrestling all the way through high school and Princeton University. After finishing his studies he got a prestigeous job at Wall Street – but something was missing.

He was unhappy and the competitive fire was still burning strong inside him. He decided to move to Singapore to train at Evolve MMA – where he stayed for five years, and given his extensive background in wrestling, also became the team’s wrestling coach.

The choice to move to Singapore ended up being a good one – as his life as a professional fighter has served him well.

2 and a half years ago he became a father for the first time – to his son Jax. The family decided to move back to the States and since then the main focus has been raising their son, while still actively training. When Butler got an offer to fight in Bangkok in March he took it – and started searching for a place to prepare for the fight. In the end he chose AKA Thailand in Phuket.

“When this fight came up I just wanted to change it up, get out of my comfort zone and the fight happened to be in Bangkok” Butler told MMAnytt. “I have been following AKA Thailand and seen what they’ve been doing. Seemed like a good opportunity to prepare for the fight. The coaches here are great, the team is great. So far it’s been really good.”

Jake Butler about the advantages of having a background in wrestling…

Being a wrestler since a young age has it’s advantages – the work ethic, pushing through fatigue in training even though every inch of your body screams no, the amount of mathches per year and the ability to decide where the fight takes place – standing or on the ground.

Jake Butler – Photo: ONE Championship

“Certainly there is an advantage of wrestling your whole life at a high level. It’s a great advantage.” Butler said. “It doesn’t make training any easier but you are used to it. You know it’s gonna be hard, your body is hurt, sore, beat up. So it gives you an advantage of knowing you can push through and grind it out in training.”

“Competitively, wrestling is a sport where you can wrestle 100 matches a year, multiply that over a career it’s like 1000 matches. You get used to the nerves and the build up. It helps you being able to stay calm and go out there and perform on fight night.”

Is wrestling the best base for MMA?

“Im biased because I’m a wrestler but yeah it’s a great base for MMA, but nowadays the sport has evolved alot. You have to have everything, because it is very different wrestling for MMA compared to straight wrestling” Butler continued.

“Now people are getting good at the defensive end of it, the really good strikers who want to stay standing, they don’t necessarily learn the offensive wrestling, but getting really good at defending takedowns and using the fence to their advantage.”

“If you want to get started in something young, it’s probably a great base to have before you branch out into the other marital arts. But as I said these days you need to be competent in every facet of the game.”

About his opponent Gilbert Galvão and the preparations for him…

“He’s a big strong guy, really kind of a grinder from what I can tell and wins a lot of fights by points” Butler said. “He likes to get you against the cage and grind you out, play a heavy top game, but I think it’s a good matchup for me, I think I’m a bit longer and rangier than him and I see myself being better than him in every position that he traditionally wants to fight in.”

“With my wrestling background I don’t think he will be able to take me down, I’ll be stronger in the clinch and up against the cage.”

“We are just kind of getting started on it [the camp preparing for Galvao] here right now, being strong in the positions he is gonna try to put me in and kind of forcing my gameplan on him. I don’t want him on top of me or pinning me against the cage.”

ONE taking steps to stop dangerous weight cuts

ONE Championship has changed the rules regarding extreme weight cuts and all fighters need to do hydration tests regularly to be able to fight for the organization.

One step they have taken is adding 10 lbs for every weight class. That means that the bantamweight champion defends his belt at 145 lbs, instead of 135 lbs. This has worked well for Butler, who never had any problems with weight cuts. The fight against Galvao will be contested at middleweight where both fighters need to weigh in at 205 lbs.

“The fight will be at middleweight and the weight is not an issue” Butler said. “They changed the weigh-in system at ONE, it’s called middleweight, the category is 205 pounds (93 kg). I need to make sure I’m close at fight week because you need to be fully hydrated all fight week. They have a pretty good system.”

“The same guys are fighting each other that would be fighting in the old system – the only difference is they are not cutting 25 lbs and are fighting closer to their natural weight. It doesn’t effect me because I never cut alot of weight. The guys who cut alot of weight – it’s easier and safer for them.”

Young talent Martin “Situ-Asian” Nguyen could write MMA history Saturday

In the night’s main event, relative unknown Martin Nguyen (10-1) from the Philippines has the chance to make history – as the first fighter in MMA history to hold 3 major titles in 3 different weight classes.

Getting there is no walk in the park though – as he faces reigning featherweight champion Bibiano Fernandes who is unbeaten in his last 13 fights. Nguyen is the reigning featherweight and lightweight champion after upset wins over Marat Gafurov (15-1) and Eduard Folayang (18-6).

Als0 on the card BJJ legend Garry “The Lion Killer” Tonon makes his MMA debut against Richard “Lion Heart” Corminal.

“It will be his (Nguyen’s) toughest fight yet” Butler said. “I mean he shocked everyone in his last 2 fights, most people didn’t think he would win against [Marat] Gafurov and they didn’t think he would beat [Eduard] Folayang and he knocked them both out.”

“He’s on a roll and on fire, confidence is sky high so who knows. Can’t really bet against him. Bibiano has been champ for a long time so it’s gonna be Martins toughest fight. It will be interesting to see if he can make history.”

Fight card for ONE Championship 68: Iron Will

  • Titlefight in bantamweight: Martin Nguyen (C-FW & LW) vs. Bibiano Fernandes (C-BW)
  • Richard Corminal vs. Garry Tonon
  • D. Sor Amnuaysirichoke vs. Jeremy Miado
  • Alain Ngalani vs. A. Tur-Ochir
  • Rahul Raju vs. Shannon Wiratchai
  • Jake Butler vs. Gilberto Galvão
  • Rika Ishige vs. Angelie Sabanal
  • S. Arslanaliev vs. Tetsuya Yamada
  • Kaji Ebin vs. Sunoto Peringkat
  • Robin Catalan vs. K. Kongsrichai
  • Zhikang Zhao vs. Waqar Umar


–  All The Gold: Martin Nguyen vs Bibiano Fernandes Set For Epic Showdown In Thailand

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Stefan Romare is a reporter for MMAnytt and produces content in both English and Swedish.