For a while it was looking like Dylan Andrews wasn’t going to get his break into the lucrative MMA market of America. He was campaigning for a fight with any organization that would give him a chance, even offering to pay his own flight over if it meant that more people would get to see him fight.

Enough was enough. Push came to shove. It was a last ditch effort. It was do or die.

There are so many different dated clichés that could describe why Andrews eventually decided to try out for The Ultimate Fighter again after being unsuccessful twice before. Something that wasn’t quite as clichéd was just how much Andrews’ life changed following the whole experience.

“It’s crazy to think that your life can change in just one day,” Andrews explained in an exclusive interview with The MMA Corner. “Personally, I dream big, so this has been a great experience for me. It’s been a crazy journey, and it didn’t even feel real when I won my way into the house.”

Many fighters come out of their Ultimate Fighter experience facing questions about the way that they acted on television. For the most part, a majority of the general public will not know what has taken place off camera or how a fighter acts when they are around friends and family. For Andrews, his experience was a pretty good parallel to how he acts every day of the year, not just when the camera was rolling.

Andrews (R) has his arm raised in victory (Esther Lin/MMA Fighting)

“I thought it played out really well,” he explained. “The way I carried myself and the way that I was portrayed was great. There wasn’t any acting or anything like that, it was just me being myself.”

At the TUF 17 Finale, Andrews drew a match-up with grappler Jimmy Quinlan. There were a lot of people that expected Andrews to succumb to Quinlan’s superior grappling and wrestling, and they didn’t give “The Villain” much of a chance. Andrews yet again proved everybody wrong, though, when he secured a first-round stoppage.

“I did what I needed to do,” he explained. “I worked hard in the areas I knew I was going to have to work on, and I knew I would beat him. We went in there believing that we would finish it in the first and that’s what happened. We knew it wouldn’t look good to win via decision and we wanted an impressive finish.”

It would be easy to come out of the whole experience thinking that he has finally made it. Having spent so many years fighting on the local scene in Australia, Andrews getting that fight on the “big show” that is the UFC certainly makes it worth all the sacrifice beforehand. Andrews has a firm idea of what is to come.

“I still know that I am going to have to work hard. It’s a lot harder to stay there than to get there,” he admitted. “I haven’t heard anything yet, and I will just take the fights as they come. I would have loved to be on [UFC] 160, but that couldn’t happen, so now I am just going to enjoy the time off.”

Andrews (Esther Lin/MMA Fighting)

Since wrapping up the season,Andrews has had the opportunity to train with some of the best camps across America. But for Andrews, home is where he truly belongs.

“I am comfortable training here [in Australia],” he admitted. “I train at my best when I am happy, and for me it’s very hard to be away from my family and friends. They are like an extra motivation for me. I am happy to bring people over to train with me, but at the same time I will definitely go wherever I need to go and do what I need to do to be the best, but I mostly plan to stay in Australia.”

A big part of what has come out of the TUF experience is exposure. As much as we would like to believe it, MMA hasn’t exactly broken the mainstream barrier in Australia in a big way just yet. There would still be instances where a UFC-contracted fighter could walk down the street and go seemingly unnoticed. However, in the sports biggest market—the United States—Andrews can vouch for a totally different story.

“There have been a lot of people in the States that would recognize me because of the show. It’s certainly starting to pick up a little more over here [in Australia] though,” he said. “There is demand for me to be in certain places for media and events and stuff, and that’s what I enjoy. I have always really wanted to be that kind of person that does that stuff and to give back to the fans.”

With so many fighters on the Australian and New Zealand fight circuit vying for their shot at the big time, Andrews has some sound advice.

“If you believe that you can do it and you work hard, then good things are going happen,” he said. “Hard work pays off, and I have worked so hard to get here. You have to believe in yourself and be persistent. I went through the trials a couple of times before I got picked. It didn’t happen overnight for me, and all the experience I had leading up to TUF was invaluable.”

For Dylan Andrews, The Ultimate Fighter series created an impressive platform upon which to build. After winning “Fight of the Season” and getting a highlight-reel stoppage victory over Quinlan on the TUF 17 Finale, “The Villain” has nowhere to go but up. The next question that poses itself, however, is whether New Zealand’s latest fight export becomes the nation’s greatest.

Dylan would like to thank Advanced Fight Gear, Nutrition Warehouse, Notorious Cuts and Big Red Concrete Cutting. Follow Dylan on Twitter: @dylanthevillian

Top Photo: Dylan Andrews (Esther Lin/MMA Fighting)

About The Author

Staff Writer, Australia

Located in Queanbeyan, New South Wales, Neil Rooke has been writing about the sport of MMA since 2011. In the past, Neil has written for Cage Junkies and has written for Fight! Magazine as well as Fist! Fight Magazine. Neil is also a regular contributor to Fight! Magazine Australia and Yahoo! Sports Singapore.