HE had everything many people can only dream of: an economics degree from an Ivy League school and a high-paying job at an equities firm along the bustling financial district of New York City.
Yet Jake Butler remained hardly satisfied, to the point of quitting his job to go back to his first love: wrestling, a sport that gave him a chance to start a professional career in mixed martial arts.
Butler continues his MMA journey when he stakes his unbeaten record against James Kouame in a light-heavyweight bout in the next ONE FC staging in Indonesia on September 13.
Into wrestling since he was eight, Butler skippered Princeton’s wrestling team and went up against the likes of newly crowned Ultimate Fighting Championship middleweight titlist Chris Weidman, who then represented Hofstra, and Filipino UFC pride Mark Muñoz, who then fought for Oklahoma State.
The American seemed poised for a wrestling career, but fate had a different script. After graduating from Princeton, fate took Butler to Wall Street, where he landed a job as a financial analyst at Thor Equities.
For more than two years, he just went through the motions, until the day he decided he won’t let himself get stuck with the daily routine anymore.
Not a few people, understandably, questioned the decision. But it was not that hard for Butler.
"I woke up with a sense of dread everyday while I was working in finance. It was not something I could foresee myself doing for a long time,” the 30-year-old Butler admitted. “(And) my competitive fire was still burning.”
So he decided to go back to his first love, eventually finding himself across the globe in Singapore as the wrestling coach of Evolve MMA, which led to his promising stint in ONE FC, considered as Asia’s biggest MMA promotion.
“Evolve MMA offered me the opportunity of a lifetime, and it was an easy decision,” Butler said.
Butler turned pro in February and has been undefeated in two fights, both convincing first-round knockout victories against Antoni Romulo and Swain Cangco.
So far, does he have regrets about the life-changing decision he made?
“I don’t know if leaving that job to pursue my passion was the biggest decision of my life, but it is definitely one of the best,” he beamed.