THE waiting is over for cage-fighter Andy Ogle now he has finally been given the chance to put his skills to the test several weeks into his stint on the US reality TV show Ultimate Fighter Live.
Andy, 23, of Tynemouth, will take on 30-year-old former champion wrestler Mike Rio in the early hours of Saturday in a fight being screened live in the UK on ESPN.
If he wins, he will go on to the show’s quarter-finals, taking him a step closer to the final in six weeks’ time and the opportunity to compete for a £100,000 Ultimate Fighting Championship contract.
His proud mum Jan, a nurse, said: “He’s got a really hard opponent, but he’s delighted to have got to that part of the show.
“Andy and Mike seem to be getting on really well in the house.
“Mike called Andy a phenomenal athlete and a phenomenal person on the show, but, at the end of the day, it’s a competition.
“I’m really excited. We’ve been watching every week on ESPN.
“Andy has lots of support – quite a lot of Americans but also a lot of Brits.
“I was surprised at how much interest there has been from the UK, Ireland and Europe.
“He’s come across as very, very nice, and we are bursting with pride.
“I’m half looking forward to it, but the other half of me is really quite nervous. If he wins, he will be in the quarter-final.
“Everyone wants to fight for the UFC. It’s their equivalent of the Premier League in football.”
Jan has had a fair few sleepless nights since her son entered the Ultimate Fighter house as she is eager not to miss any opportunity to see how he’s getting on.
She said: “I’ve been watching every Saturday morning.
“They’re not allowed any phones or contact with anyone outside the house, so it’s the only time I get to see Andy.
“Because my husband is working away in Japan at the moment, I watch it at 3am, then at around 4.30am, I get on the computer to let his dad know how he did.
“I usually don’t go to sleep until 6.30am on a Saturday morning.”
Whether Andy wins what will be Friday’s fight in America or not, he will have another six weeks to go in the house and can look forward to fight in Las Vegas on Friday, June 1.
Jan won’t be the only one missing out on sleep as about 30 other relatives, friends and training partners will be staying up late on Friday night and into Saturday to watch the fight live on TV at Andy’s coach Stu Baillie’s home in Gateshead.