Sometimes, nick names just seem to fit. Unfortunately for Andy Main, his was already taken. But should the “Baby Faced Assassin” Josh Barnett retire soon, we can hope that he bestows the supremely fitting moniker to Andy Main. To see Main in the gym you would think that he is there waiting for his older brother. A young, fresh, almost cherubic face goes against all that the average person imagines when speaking about an MMA fighter. But, all that changes when Main begins his training, a focused intensity and concentrated scowl take the place of the boyish face, and Main is in his element.
Having tasted the promised land of all fighters, the UFC, by appearing in the last season of The Ultimate Fighter, Main is determined to get back into the fold of the biggest MMA promotion. And, although a young man, and fighter, Main is on the path to rediscovery. He has altered his training by aligning himself with the best coaches on the east coast, and setting his focus to that ultimate goal of fighting in the UFC. And has become wizened to what he needs to find within himself to get to these goals
TheGARV.com had a chance to speak to Andy Main and learned of his new appreciation for the sport of MMA, the dedication it takes, and the self discovery process he hopes to go through in this journey through the world of fighting, as well as the appreciation he has with his fans.
Side note: Unfortunately, Andy’s video interview was cut short due to technical issues, but a back up audio recorder allowed us to get the interview in its entirety in audio format and transcribe it here. My apologies to Andy
Carlos Filian - How was the experience in the Ultimate Fighter house?
Andy Main – It was an interesting experience. Something you can’t really prepare for. Having guys like Brian McLaughlin and Dante Rivera, they tell you what it’s like but you can’t really get a feel for it until you’re in there. It’s just unbelievable, the situation with being in the house, locked down, with no contact with anyone in the outside world, that alone is something that, unless you were in the army or something like that you’re not gonna know what its like until your there. It does drive you a little crazy, that’s why you see some guys lose it in the house. And the training is unbelievable you know, working with guys like Koscheck and his camp, it really just opens a lot of doors, opens your eyes to a lot of things. It almost fast tracks you in a lot of different ways, not only in the UFC, but in connections. I pretty much can go anywhere and if I say “hey I’m Andy Main from TUF”, almost anyone is going to open their doors for me, let me train, do a seminar. Overall it was an awesome experience and definitely worth doing.
CF- What did you take away that was the most rewarding? The training with top level trainers, the notoriety, etc?
AM – I think it was the exposure and opportunities after the show. During the show it was the relationships. What they don’t show on TV is the times when we were just sitting around talking, getting to know each other. And honestly, all those guys are like my brothers, we are all in separate areas of the country, and some out of the country, like Aaron Wilkinson, but no matter what, we experienced that together, and I try to stay in touch as much as I can. It’s a once in a lifetime experience, I will never do something like that again, they will never do something like that gain. Some of us may go onto become great fighters and some may just retire and go onto teaching or something else. There will be many different paths that we each go on, but those experiences that we went through, these relationships that we built, I think that was the most rewarding thing inside that house.
CF-When you first started your fight career, you were under Renzo Gracie Denville, did you move from them to AMA before or after TUF?
AM – No, that was before hand. Renzo Gracie Denville is an awesome BJJ school, and the actually have a good MMA program now, but at the time I was the only one. I was doing fairly well in jiu jitsu tournaments, NAGA, Grappler’s Quest. I took second place in the Pan Ams over in California and I wanted a different challenge. Somebody suggested fighting, and I had some wrestling and stand up background, so I thought I could go in there and fight as an amateur fighter, with no intent on becoming a professional. I just wanted to try it and test myself against the competition. I just felt it was more pure than anything else, and when I tried it, I lost and even though I lost, it was the best experience of my life, and I realized this is what I want to do, this is what I was looking for. I also realized right away that I wasn’t training with fighters, nobody at the school, at that time, could give me what I needed outside of the jiu jitsu. I needed more, I needed to train with fighters, and ten minutes down the road we had guys like Jim and Dan Miller and Charlie Brenneman, so I made the switch. I still go over there to train with the guys over there and still train with my old jiu jitsu coach George Sernack, and through the connections there I was able to train at Renzo’s main academy in the city under John Danaher who is my primary jiu jitsu coach now.
CF-Really? Is John Danaher all that they say he is, the Buddha, the main man in the jiu jitsu sense?
AM – Yeah, you really can’t pinpoint a definition to describe him. He is jiu jitsu through and through and has been able to transition his knowledge of jiu jitsu to knowledge of MMA. He just understands the game like no one else can, he literally spends all day on the mat and when he is not on the mat, he is on the computer watching jiu-jitsu. He sleeps on mats at home and even wears a rash guard all the time because it makes him feel more comfortable. His whole life is jiu jitsu, I would like to say my whole life is MMA, because I put everything into it, but it doesn’t compare to how much time John puts into jiu jitsu. When I go to train, we have fighters like me, Frankie Edgar, Charlie Brenneman, Dave Branch, and George St. Pierre going to train with John because they know he’s the best. It’s an honor
CF-Right now you are fighting in local shows and have been getting first round submissions, early stoppages, how far do you think you are form getting back into the premier leagues, the UFC, or possibly Strikeforce?
AM – You know, in my opinion, honestly, the UFC is the big leagues. Even though Strikeforce is a great event and has great fighters, its like apples to oranges, it’s not the same as the UFC. I think that Strikeforce is there if I want it, and depending on how my career goes, and how the opportunities present themselves, I may or may not take fights for Strikeforce. My endgame however is the UFC, if I can find an organization where you can make a living like the UFC,then I may turn my attention there. I have one fight since the show, and everything went according to plan and I had six months since TUF to adapt and change myself as a fighter. I like to say I reinvented myself as a fighter, before I was a jiu jitsu guy trying to fight MMA. Now, since the show, I finally feel like a fighter, I am a fighter, through and through first, with great jiu jitsu, a solid stand up game, and solid wrestling. I feel like I am a complete package. I feel as time goes on I am going to continue to grow and continue to show that, so in that situation, I don’t feel that I am that far away (from getting back to the UFC) I do have a little bit of name from the show, and they like to have their TUFers back. Obviously you have to win , but it’s no secret that other guys form the show have lost, gone out, done well, reinvented themselves and have gone back and done great in the UFC. So I think two or three goods wins and I should be set to come back. I will be dropping down to 145lbs because of how flooded the 155lb division is and because I have been fighting at 145 for a long time. I only fought at 155 the first time on the show. Plus, the 145lb division isn’t that stacked. There are a couple of good guys on the top, but it isn’t that stacked.
But I also want to take advantage of the time I have free, and not just do regional shows. I would like to fight in England, fight out in Japan, and travel, maybe travel to Brazil and fight down there as long as they are sanctioned shows and use the opportunities I have to travel. I love to travel, and I want to take advantage of the opportunities the show gave me in allowing me to be flown out to different places and train there.
CF-I asked your head trainer Mike Constantino who I should watch out for in AMA. And he mentioned your name, and said you are getting to a point where you are the next thing coming out of the camp. How do you feel about that?
AM – I feel great about that, its awesome to feel that the hard work is paying off and showing. When I say I reinvented myself, it’s not just that I feel I have gotten bettered at different things, I literally have gotten better in the way I train. Before just didn’t put the same time and effort into it, but I thought I did. If I were able to look back at that person eight months ago, I would laugh at me and the idea of me stepping into the cage. Whereas now I’ve hired a full time boxing coach, I have a great wrestling coach; I work with John Danaher, Jaime Cruz and George Sernack. I see it on the mat, at different training times, I see the progression, and even in my fight I see the transformation. They can tell you over and over that you are great but you have to believe it and I do, I believe I can be great and I just need to put the time and effort in. I have also hired a full time strength and conditioning coach and its really made a difference. The coaches see all the hard work I have been putting in and he (Constantino) sees me paying to go to the city, for boxing , and wrestling , so my coaches now the time I put in. I love the fact that he believes in me because I believe in me, and when you have two guys that believe that much you have a dangerous pair
CF-Do you have anything you want to say to your fans?
AM – I love my fans and it’s one of the big things about this sport that I love. The little bit of notoriety that I got from the show and also the local fans from the East coast that have followed me from the beginning. I love fighting for the fans, whether there's one person on the stands or 10,000 people watching. It just makes it so much more exciting having the love and support from the people behind you. Fans like to talk to me and I want to hear what they say, and I like to hear from the up and comers asking for advice. But, then I wonder why they are messaging me and not the higher up guys, I am not a high level guy yet, but I want to have these fans supporting me an following me. They can contact me anytime, my Facebook is Andymainfriendpage or just friend request me at AndyMain, my twitter is @andy_main.
CF-Do you know when your next fight is?
AM – Maybe in March, I’m hoping to get a call for a fight in New Jersey. But they should be posted in my twitter or Facebook