A young Kiwi has become the first Maori mixed martial arts fighter to compete in a top American reality television show, The Ultimate Fighter.
Dylan Andrews, originally from Wellington and Whakatane, features in the upcoming season of the US show due to air there on January 22.
The 32-year-old grew up in Wellington and is an old boy of Hutt Valley High, but has been based in the Gold Coast with his partner and children since 2003.
He was among 14 fighters from around the world to be selected to star in the reality show, which will show in Australia from January 27. It is understood Sky TV is currently deciding whether or not to show the programme here in New Zealand.
Andrews, who now plays the sport professionally, said the experience was beyond what he had ever imagined.
"I've always been a fan and have always watched it, but it was more than amazing. We all stay in a Big Brother-type house and we live and train together. Basically it's an elimination thing. We fight until there's one left.
"The winner gets a contract with the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship). That is like the NBA or the NRL of mixed martial arts - you can't top that. It's like when you're a kid playing rugby, the only team you want to play for is the All Blacks. That's how it is in this sport."
The popular show - filmed in Las Vegas - has been running since 2005 and features a group of mixed martial arts fighters from around the world split into two teams.
They are trained by top coaches of the sport and battle it out over several weeks to find an eventual winner.
Filming has just finished and Andrews said he was excited for people back home in New Zealand to see what he had experienced.
Andrews - who took up mixed martial arts not long after arriving in Australia - said he was still a very proud Kiwi and that showed onscreen.
"I hope I don't disappoint [Australian viewers], because they mention a lot about me being the first Maori to compete and me being from New Zealand," he laughed. "Lots of the guys would say, 'Oh, here comes the Aussie'. And I would say, 'nah, nah, I'm from New Zealand, mate'."
Andrews' nickname on the show is "The Villain", but he says he is nothing of the sort.
"The coach came up with it because it rhymed with my name ... but I think I carried myself well at all times. I want it to be a positive thing, so I was always thinking about that."By Vaimoana Tapaleao Email Vaimoana