ByIan Butler, writer at
Bellator Lightweight Sober and Drug-Free
Ian Butler

When I step into the cage on January 21 it, will be the first time I will feel fully at peace with my life, my training, and my future. But in order to understand why I haven't been in that mindset before you need to know a little about where I came from.

As a child I lived on the streets. My mom and I traveled from shelter to shelter and ate regularly at soup kitchens throughout San Diego county. It was there that I met Katie, a woman who volunteered in the soup kitchens, who would later adopt me when the state threatened to take me from my birth mom.

She taught me how to be a good man, how to live a life that would serve God, and instilled self respect and discipline that I still live by today.

She was a huge competitor and helped me fall in love with sports — she even bought me my first pair of wrestling shoes. She was my biggest supporter.

But like most teens, I rebelled and left her home in San Diego and moved to St. Louis, MO, where I refused to speak to her and started falling in with bad people. I knew she wouldn't approve, and I didn't want to hear the disappointment in her voice, so I cut her out of my life. Then I had a brush with death, I nearly overdosed, but by the grace of God I survived. I immediately reached out to Katie again and made plans to come home to San Diego.

That never happened. Katie passed away suddenly before I could come home. I was devastated, but I knew that in order to honor her memory, and life, I had to do something with mine.

Now, flash forward to today. I'm working my ass off to make it in MMA (something I know without a doubt she would support) I have also dedicated my life to living drug free.

But I've made some mistakes in my career. It hasn't been the kind of beginning that I had hoped for. I started my pro career and basically went right into Bellator. And, unfortunately, due to unforeseen stresses in my life (and being paired with two phenomenal opponents), I lost.

I had to take some time to reevaluate my approach at the game, my training camps, and even my life. Now, I am with a new camp — training at RVCA with Bryce Krause and Jason Parillo.

I am settled more to life here now too. When I fought previously, I was in the middle of moving cross country, testing out new gyms in the area, and finding a permanent place to live. All of these things should not be happening in a normal fight camp — let alone a fight camp for one of the biggest promotions in the world.

Now I have a real home, family here, and a support team fitting of a high-level athlete. I'm determined to prove this time around that I am destined for the spotlight, and will make this fight my redemption.

Watch me take on Jacob Rosales on the preliminary portion of which will stream live on and Spike TV.

Photos by Amy Kaplan


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