“I went to a private middle school. During recess, some of us would go into the bathrooms, and we’d have fights in there. A few of the kids would bet their lunch money. I won a lot of fights. But never did I think of doing it as a profession. It didn’t even cross my mind.”
22-year-old UFC hopeful John Buttner sits across a table from me in my art gallery and recording studio. He’s calmly, confidently and eloquently explaining the blueprint he has drawn up for himself for the next several years of his life. He’s also getting into specifics involving life inside of the Octagon. “I train so hard. If Plan A doesn’t work, and Plan B doesn’t work, then I just keep going down the line.”
Putting in the Work
It’s easy to see that the fresh-faced fighter from Las Vegas is all-in on the lifestyle of being a professional ass-kicker, and not only willing – but anxious – to put in the insane amount of work it takes.
“Honestly. High School. I didn’t care for it at all. I graduated in three years because I just wanted to get out as soon as I could, to get to training full time in MMA…at first, my parents were afraid it would make me into a loose cannon. But I haven’t been into any trouble since I started.”
The plain truth is Buttner is one of hundreds of men and women in their early 20s currently training with MMA teams by day and dreaming of being on pay-per-view cards at night. But he has a special shine, an undeniable toughness and an impressive 5-1 amateur record.
He won his first MMA fight at the Golden Gate Casino in 2014 by rear naked choke, paving the way for a bout at the Las Vegas Events Center in October of 2014. His opponent was PJ Reyna, an experienced fighter who came into the match with a 19-0 amateur record complied in various disciplines. Buttner took some heat to the face and body throughout a round and a half before making his move while on his back and leaving the Octagon a winner thanks to a slick guillotine choke.
Fighting for a Pro
The Vegas native recently joined Team Alpha Male, an international hub of small-to-mid-sized fighters owned and operated by UFC Hall of Famer and Sacramento sports legend Urijah Faber. Faber has attained success in several fields since he graduated from UC Davis in the early years of the 21st century. The author rubbed shoulders with the wrestler a few times on and off campus in both of their final years at the esteemed University, just a few years before mixed martial arts exploded and he began to carve out his career.
Faber now has a new gym that is several times the size of his former Midtown locale, as well as a constant influx of talented young fighters. All are interested in soaking up as much moxie and knowledge as they can. Now is the time to take a moment to remember the name John Buttner.