A Pivot to the PFL

By: Jason Burgos
Apr 25, 2019

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A spot on the Ultimate Fighting Championship roster remains the endgame for many mixed martial artists, and CES MMA lightweight titleholder Nate Andrews held the same hope. However, he has since shifted gears and aims to prove the UFC’s loss will turn into the Professional Fighters League’s gain.

The 35-year-old has compiled a 15-1 record, with all 15 of his wins coming by knockout, technical knockout or submission. Despite his success and the fact that several of his bouts streamed to UFC Fight Pass, Andrews was met with indifference from the Las Vegas-based promotion.

“I was very upset I [didn’t get] the call from the UFC,” Andrews told Sherdog. “Everybody’s ultimate goal is to make the UFC. I haven’t gotten that shot yet, and it’s crazy. It has a lot to do with who you know and if you fit the image they are looking for.”

Andrews hoped his efforts would draw the attention of the UFC, but those plans changed when a teammate’s manager asked a representative about the promotion’s interest in “The Snake.”

“He actually reached out to him and asked, ‘Hey, what’s the deal with this guy Nate Andrews. Why haven’t you guys signed him yet?’” Andrews said, “and their only response was, ‘Yeah, he’s a great fighter, but there’s something about him I just don’t like.’”

The comment baffled Andrews, considering his resume and impressive finishing rate. He was confused all the more knowing that teammate Randy Costa earned a contract with the organization after just four professional bouts. He was thrilled for Costa, but the decision changed his view of the UFC.

“Does it sour me a little bit? Yeah, because that was my day-one goal since I started,” Andrews said. “Clearly there’s just something about me, the way I look, the way I talk, I don’t know what it is. Obviously, what I’m doing is not enough for them. They don’t like it. There’s politics in everything. That door closed and God opened up another door for me, which was the PFL. I am thankful that I got this PFL deal. The PFL was the best opportunity that I had, so I [jumped] at that opportunity.”

Once the financial details of the PFL deal became clear, Andrews felt it would be a far more beneficial contract for him, his girlfriend and the 7-year-old son he calls his inspiration and motivation.

“I do this for him. I do this to build a legacy for him,” Andrews said. “It’s definitely going to be a pay raise from what I was already making from CES. I have an opportunity to make more money in four or five fights in [the] PFL than I would in the beginning of a UFC contract; and then the potential of getting far in the tournament and winning the tournament -- which I plan to -- is definitely going to be life-changing.”

The Tri-Force MMA and New England Combat gym export did not start in MMA until his mid-20s, and he does not come from a martial arts background. He openly wonders if his age influenced UFC decisionmakers. Nonetheless, Andrews sees benefits to not having as much mileage on his odometer as a normal 35-year-old. “The Snake” believes that since he trains and fights smart, he has preserved his health and given himself a chance to compete for many more years.

“I haven’t had any wear and tear on my body,” he said. “I haven’t been in any crazy wars. I get in there, I get the job done and I get out. I might be 35, but I feel like I’m in my prime. I’m in the best shape I’ve ever been in. I feel like a 21-year-old. I wish I felt like this at 21.”

Andrews has already begun to prepare for his PFL debut. He will face UFC veteran and Season 1 semifinalist Chris Wade at the Nassau Coliseum on May 23 in Uniondale, New York. Wade, 31, has yet to be finished in his 19-fight career.

Chris Wade is a very tough dude,” Andrews said. “He’s a veteran. He fought in the UFC, he fought in WSOF and he was in the [PFL] tournament last year. He’s technical at times, but he does get a little careless and wild at points in a fight.”

Even before he joined the PFL, Andrews kept tabs on its progress.

“I was already a fan,” he said. “I’m an MMA fan, so I watch CES, Legacy Fighting Alliance, World Series of Fighting, PFL, Bellator [and the] UFC. I watch them all. I’m a fan [but] still a student of the game.”

Seeing friends compete in the Professional Fighters League during its inaugural season in 2018 only strengthened Andrews’ opinion of the organization.

“I was interested,” he said. “I was like, ‘Wow, this is a good platform for fighters.’”

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