During that time, the middleweight relocated his family from Singapore to New Jersey, spent some quality time with his young son, and reconnected with his extended family.
“Basically, I moved back to the US, and I have been busy with some family stuff,” the 35-year-old says.
“[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.”
Moving home to the United States also explains why Butler stopped training with Evolve MMA in Singapore, which had been his home since first joining the ONE Championship roster back in February 2013.
However, family is his top priority, and that is what ultimately pulled him back home to North America.
“The decision was all based on moving back to the US when we decided to raise my son there,” he continues.
“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.”
Once he was settled back at home in New Jersey, Butler started to get the itch to compete again, and that is when he called ONE Championship to let them know he was ready to return to action.
Now, the NCAA Division I All-American wrestler is scheduled to make his long awaited return. He meets Brazil’s Gilberto “Giba” Galvao at ONE: IRON WILL, which emanates from the Impact Arena in Bangkok, Thailand, on 24 March.
“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,” Butler says.
“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.”
Butler does not want to look too far down the road until he steps back into the cage later this month, but he promises to be a regular fixture in the promotion. In fact, the American hopes to compete at least two more times in 2018, and then he plans to challenge for a ONE World Title.
“I would like to build myself up and get a title shot,” he says.
“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.”