Things have happened fast for Jake Butler, maybe too fast. The light heavyweight made his pro debut under the banner of ONE FC and fought four times in the space of nine months for Asia’s biggest MMA promotion.
That period culminated in a fight with Sylvain Potard in October 2013 where the experienced French fighter exposed a few hitherto unexploited holes in Butler’s game, stopping him in the second round with an onslaught of punches.
That loss definitely served to slow some of the momentum behind Butler, but it’s worth remembering that the Princeton graduate was being thrown in with a veteran of eight fights after less than a year as a professional.
The two are set to rematch at ONE FC: Warrior’s Way on Friday. While Butler might have lost his undefeated record, he feels the lessons he learned that night have made him a much better fighter.
“I have improved a lot since our last fight and I will make sure he doesn’t have the opportunity to land another big punch. It was my mistake last time, but I’ve fixed the mistake.”
Butler subsequently stopped Egyptian Mohamed Ali, who incidentally holds a win over Potard, but the only way he can truly avenge his first defeat is to prevail against the opponent who handed it to him.
“It is the only loss on my record, and I am excited that ONE FC is giving me the chance to avenge it. I have wanted this fight for a long time and I am really motivated and training hard so that I can prove to myself and the fans that the first loss should never have happened.”
Butler is based full time in Singapore, where he trains at Evolve MMA, and says he has developed into a completely different fighter in the year that has elapsed since his loss to Potard.
“I have improved a lot in all areas of my game because I never stopped training. I train every day with the Evolve Fight Team and I get to roll and spar with guys like Leandro Ataides and Zorobabel Moreira, and train Muay Thai and boxing with world champions like Chavalit Jockey Gym, and sharpen my wrestling and round out my MMA game under the guidance of Heath Sims. Training at Evolve MMA, I am learning new stuff every single training session.”
After fighting four times in 2013, this will be only Butler’s second bout of the year, but he hopes to be busier in the months to come.
“I want to stay active, but sometimes things come up. I get an injury or an opponent pulls out. That’s just how it worked out this year, but I am excited to finish this year strong and hopefully I can stay more active next year. ONE FC is growing really fast and putting on a lot more shows, so there will be a lot of opportunities for us fighters.”
Butler’s career is still in its infancy, but he has already been tipped to compete for the inaugural light heavyweight belt and was on course to do just that until getting derailed by the surprise loss to Potard last year.
There would be no better way to get back on track to a shot at the belt than avenging the Potard loss. Butler believes that it is absolutely essential he wins in Manila this week in order to keep his title dream alive.
“I think (beating Potard) is important because I have won four fights in ONE FC by finish and I had one bad performance. Once I avenge this loss, it will be five wins, and that should definitely put me close to a title shot.”
However, while the prospect of winning that title is never far from the American’s mind, he feels that unfinished business with Potard makes this fight more personal.
“The ONE FC title is the end goal, but I really want to win this fight for myself, to prove to myself that I never should have lost the first one.”
With undefeated Polish light heavyweight Michael Pasternak set to make his pro debut this month, and Roger Gracie scheduled to face James McSweeney on Friday in what will be his first fight for ONE FC, the division is becoming increasingly competitive.
Butler has more wins than any other 205-pounder on the roster and hopes that a victory on Friday will propel him to go on and achieve even bigger things in the New Year.
“It is exciting times for ONE FC with more fighters, bigger names, and more opportunities. I look forward to taking on these new challenges and claiming the top spot in the division.”
Fans around Asia can catch ONE FC: Warrior’s Way live on FOX Sports 1. Check your local listings. Also, fans from around the world can witness the action online via live streaming at http://www.onefc.com/livestream. The event will be available for purchase at just $9.99.
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