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Jesse Butler - Ark-LA-Tex Konflict 1

A featherweight hailing from, Louisiana, Jesse Butler (5-2) is making his debut for AKA on September 9th at Ark-LA-Tex Konflict 1. His opponent is Alabama’s Anthony Retic (6-6). Butler is an athletic fighter, who brings a dangerous skillset to the cage.

Raised in West Monroe, a place Butler still calls home, mixed martial arts is a long way away from the sport he nearly pursued as a career;

“I was a high school baseball player. I was going to move away and play college baseball. I got homesick in the process, decided not to move and stayed home. I’m naturally competitive and walked into a gym one day, I just loved it. As a kid I tried football, but didn’t like the contact. I love competing and I love the hard work that comes with this sport. I love being busy and I love the push.”

Butler trains in the morning and at night, keeping to a two training sessions a day schedule. Most weeks he trains seven days a week, but depending on the season occasionally will take Sunday off;

“I train at Kron Gracie Jiu Jitsu in West Monroe, LA. It’s the only Kron Gracie affiliate except for his school in California. We are blessed to have it here in this small town. There are schools like Gracie Barra where you can pay to affiliate and get a franchise. This isn’t like that.”

Kron Gracie is the youngest son of Jiu Jitsu legend Rickson Gracie and a skilled competitor in his own right. Butler’s coach, John Blunschi, has a close relationship with Gracie, and is also the driving force behind Butler’s success;

“He’s a black belt in Jiu Jitsu; he’s around fifty years old and trains morning and evening. He’s my idol; he works harder than anyone I’ve seen. He takes no bullshit from me, and without him I wouldn’t be where I am.”

It’s no surprise that Butler sees his Jiu jitsu game as his greatest strength;

“I hold a purple belt in Jiu Jitsu. Before I came to this school, I was a striker and was well versed in striking. I’m athletic and my kicks and punches are natural. Another strength is my cardio. Our morning workouts are MMA training and we do a lot of running, sprint work, kettlebells and airdyne so that we always have the cardio and the lungs.

As an amateur fighter, Butler went 13-3 with the majority of his wins being finishes;

“I started off 3-3 and then went on a 10-fight win streak. When I was 3-3, I walked to the back after a loss and cried. I didn’t know if it was for me. I decided I would stick with it and knew that I could do it. A lot of the submissions I have on my record actually came about because we were standing and the guy went down to the ground and I got the submission.”

The two losses Butler has as a professional, he feels were a great learning experience;

“They were such good losses, Brandon (Shavers) I took on a couple of days’ notice. I was meant to fight as a featherweight, that fight was at 155 lb and I just took it. He also came in heavy, he was so strong. I shouldn’t have taken it. The Levi Fight (Mowles, a BJJ black belt) was an incredible fight, he’s a stud. I learned a lot from him.”

Another fight that Butler feels he gained a lot from was his last fight with the experienced Javier Obregon (14-16);

“I knew I needed to win it coming off the loss to Levi. He was on a five-fight win streak. He surprised me with his punches, and his standup was good. It was a definite learning experience and let me know where I’m at. I know that I can hang with these guys.”

Butler’s next opponent, Retic, is someone he isn’t too familiar with;

“I got some film on him; he looks like a long boxer. I’m tall for a featherweight at 5’10” but he has three inches on me. From what I saw he doesn’t do a lot of kicks and he doesn’t really grapple. I see weaknesses and see myself finishing him pretty quick.”

After this fight, Butler has a clear goal in mind;

“I want the featherweight title Colin Wright has. That should have been my fight in the first place. They like to keep me away from Kendrick Williams, but the guy they brought in won. I want to fight Colin on October 27th. I want to get this win, then fight Colin and beat him.”

One way that Butler keeps sharp between fights is with Jiu Jitsu competition;

“I do a lot of tournaments. I like to travel to tournaments; it’s more relaxed compared to fighting. So I get to enjoy that. I won an IBJJF gold medal and have done a number of IBJJF tournaments. I also do a little bass fishing here and there. I have my own boat and getting out on the water is my escape from the gym.”

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