CAGE fighting star Andy Ogle is one step closer to living out his dream as an ultimate fighter.
The former Sunderland University student is seen by millions of viewers in the U.S. as he stars in a Las Vegas-based reality TV show.
The show, The Ultimate Fighter Live, sees viewers voting to see contestants, who all live in a Big Brother-style house, battle it out.
Last week, his efforts paid off when he punched his way into the quarter finals of the show after beating two-times state wrestling champ Mike Rio.
The 23-year-old, the only UK fighter to make it onto the popular American show, said: “I’m delighted, definitely.
“That’s what I’m here for, and it was great to fight again, especially after not having fought for such a long time.”
The mixed martial arts fighter, who trains at Section 18 in Fulwell, beat firm favourite Rio, 30, 4mins 19secs into the second round with a rear-naked choke.
He will now fight for a place in the semi-finals next Friday.
Andy said: “It was always a dream, just something in the distance. I can remember being 16 or 17 and watching the show and thinking ‘that’s amazing’ and I’d love to do that. Now here I am.”
Andy’s mum Jan, 50, watched Friday’s fight with Andy’s coach and about 30 of his pals.
He has not been able to speak to his mum, dad Gordon, brother Jonathan and girlfriend Rachel Howard, 23, since entering the house.
She said: “I’m so proud of him because he’s doing what he’s always wanted to do, but it’s hard not being able to speak to him.
“He was so confident when he came out to fight and it’s the first time I’ve been able to watch it not looking through my fingers because it can be hard for a mother to watch her son fight.”
Andy, who holds the featherweight European Champions title for cage fighting, entered the house on March 9. Since then, the 16 men have taken part in one fight a week to whittle the contestants down to eight.
The overall winner will scoop a £100,000 contract and a permanent place fighting with the prestigious UFC.
The Ultimate Fighter Live is screened in the UK on ESPN at 3am on Saturdays.