TUF’s Andy Ogle Talks Upcoming Showdown With Al Iaquinta: “I’m Representing My Country And I Don’t Feel Like It’s Been A Burden That I’ve Got The Pressure Of A Nation On My Back”
By Tom Taylor
On Friday’s all-new episode of The Ultimate Fighter: Live, Andy Ogle and Al Iaquinta will square off to secure a spot in the tournament’s semi-finals. With a shot at a UFC contract on the line, the stakes going into their showdown are high.
As if there weren’t already enough pressure on the two hopefuls, Ogle and Iaquinta are both members of Team Faber, and their upcoming bout will mark the first time this season that two teammates will lock horns.
Despite having trained together for the duration of the season so far, both men are taking their teammate versus teammate situation in stride.
“Fighting someone I’ve been training with is something that I dealt a lot with when I was wrestling in high school and college,” said Iaquinta during a media teleconference two days before the impending showdown. “It’s a unique situation, and you kind of know a little bit of the guy’s game, but you know it’s always different when you get in the cage. I know he [Ogle] knows about my style, and I know about his style, but when we get in there a lot is going be different.
Ogle was equally collected when discussing this matter. While fighting a teammate is a distinct possibility for any contestant on The Ultimate Fighter, Ogle says that he would never hold back in practice to keep his skills a secret from teammates who might become opponents.
“I would never hold back in practice. The main point of practice is to get caught in sticky situations and develop. You get caught in a sticky situation in training so that you never get in that situation in a fight.”
Teammates or not, come Friday, Iaquinta and Ogle will enter the octagon in what is surely the most important fight of their respective careers thus far. While both are finally on the cusp of a UFC contract, neither man has had an easy road to their current position.
Ogle, for example, who fights out of Sunderland, England, has had to cope with being away from home, friends, and family. Throughout the season, being so far from home has been a visibly emotional ride for Ogle, yet he says he is proud to be representing the UK on the show.
“I’m representing my country and I don’t feel like it’s been a burden or that I’ve got the pressure of a nation on my back. I feel as if I’m wearing the flag with pride. On the emotion side, well yeah, that’s just me. I have big highs and big lows, it’s just part of who I am and because this whole thing means so much to me and I’ve got a big heart,” he said.
Iaquinta faced adversity in a different way, as he struggled to gain the support of his parents as he embarked on his MMA career. Now, however, he says they support him whole-heartedly.
“I don’t think that it was so much that they didn’t want me involved in MMA. I think they saw it as very dangerous, and as something that didn’t have many options as far as making a life of it. They also wanted me to go to school. They still kind of supported me, but they definitely wanted me to do school. I think they see now that I can make a living out of it and that there are a lot of options. This sport’s growing and blown up, so they’re definitely really supportive of me in everything that I do.”
The clash between Ogle and Iaquinta goes down this Friday on FX, in an episode that will boast an additional quarter-final scrap between Chris Saunders and Vinc Pichel, and the announcement of Coach Urjiah Faber’s new opponent following an injury sustained by his opposing coach, reigning bantamweight champ, Dominick Cruz.