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Jake Butler targeting championship tilt as he prepares for his ONE Championship return

Returning American is looking to make inroads towards a ONE world title – at middleweight or light-heavyweight

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American Jake Butler has been away from the cage for over a year and a half, but the 35-year-old wrestler is finally able to return to ONE Championship, and he’s planning on making up for lost time.

Butler returns to action at ONE: IRON WILL in Bangkok, Thailand, on Saturday, 24 March when he faces Brazil’s Gilberto “Giba” Galvao in a middleweight bout he hopes will propel him towards championship contention, and an eventual matchup with ONE World Champion Aung La N Sang.

During his time away from the cage, Butler made some big life changes, as he took the decision to move back home to the United States after a stint living and training in Singapore.

“Basically, I moved back to the US, and I have been busy with some family stuff,” he told ONE Championship.

“[I have been] staying active and training, but I just took a little break from competing. That’s really it.

“I have a son, and he is almost three years old, and so I am just getting back in touch with everyone after spending five years in Singapore. Spending a lot of time with my family and raising my kid, being a father.

“It was not really a conscious decision [to be gone so long]. The time just kind of flew by in a year and a half. We were just moving around, figuring out where we were going to settle in, and next thing I know it has been a year. It was not really a planned break. I just wanted a little time to get refocused and get settled in.”

The move back home meant Butler had to end his association with Singapore super-gym Evolve MMA, which had been his home since 2013. But despite bidding his former team farewell, Butler says he did so with a suitcase full of happy memories of his time there training among Evolve’s roster of world champion athletes.

“The decision was all based on moving back to the US when we decided to raise my son there,” he explained.

“Evolve was amazing. It was hard to leave, and to leave Singapore, but for raising my kid, we wanted to be closer to family and be back at home. So that was really just the driving force. It was not so much that I wanted to leave Evolve or leave Singapore, but after five years there, it was the right time.”

It may have taken him a while to get things settled back home in New Jersey, but now Butler has everything in place for himself and his family, and he’s now ready to make his competitive return.

He’ll do so against the experienced Galvao, who Butler says will pose an interesting test for his comeback bout.

“He is obviously a pretty experienced veteran. He has been doing this for a while. He is very much a grinder, he likes to get you up against the cage, and he likes to be on top,” he explained.

“I am confident in my wrestling and my ground game, and I think I will have a lot of range on him. He is going to have trouble getting inside on me.

“I think he is a tough, durable guy, so it is going to be a tough match-up, but I definitely see a lot of opportunities where I can take advantage of his style.”

The NCAA Division I wrestler isn’t one to make brash predictions, but he nonetheless made his aims very clear, saying he wants to build his momentum once again, then look to challenge two-weight world champion Aung La N Sang for either of his two world titles.

“I would like to build myself up and get a title shot,” he said.

“I do not see many other contenders in the division. They have [Aung La N Sang] holding both belts at middleweight and light heavyweight, and I will face him at either weight.”

Interview by ONE Championship. Story by Simon Head.

Freelance sports writer and MMA reporter with 19 years’ experience in the UK national media. News Editor: ONE Championship. UFC/MMA Reporter: BBC Three. International MMA Reporter: The Fight Nation. Contributor: MMAjunkie.

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