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31st May 2018

Undefeated Irishman Richie Smullen eliminated from the Ultimate Fighter under bizarre circumstances

Even Daniel Cormier teared up

Ben Kiely

Richie Smullen

You have to feel sorry for Richie Smullen.

Undefeated Irishman Richie Smullen (3-0-1) did so well to get onto season 27 of the UFC’s reality tv show, The Ultimate Fighter. The Arklow native was injured when he first heard of the tryouts for the show. However, he fit the criteria of being unbeaten and decided to pursue his dream of making the UFC.

With no funds for a flight, he was considering taking out a loan to buy a plane ticket. SBG teammate Artem Lobov, who informed him about the tryouts, actually paid for the trip and accommodation so that he could audition for the show. With a girlfriend and daughter back at home, Smullen told that ‘the Russian Hammer’s gesture took a huge weight off his shoulders.

So off Smullen went to Las Vegas, where he auditioned successfully to secure a place in the Ultimate Fighter house for six weeks of shooting. His first fight was set to be against 13-0 Costa Rican fighter Allan Zuniga. Unfortunately, the fight was scrapped the day it was set to go down.

“That’s never happened before”

Smullen passed the pre-fight physical, but while warming up for the bout when he started feeling uncomfortable. As soon as the warm-up began, his calves started locking. He then asked his strength coach to massage his calves, but soon the discomfort turned to agony.

He tried to walk it off, but soon he wasn’t able to stand. Coach Daniel Cormier failed with his attempted massage, so he brought his fighter to see the doctor again. The doctor had no explanation for the cramps and Smullen was given extra time to try to sort himself before the fight.

After the time ended, president Dana White paid him a visit. Once he saw that Smullen was unable to stand up, he called the fight off. Zuniga received a free pass to the next round via ‘medical disqualification’.

The episode ends with Smullen backstage holding a towel over his head, crying. Cormier tried his best to console the Irishman as he received medical attention before being taken to the hospital.

“Hey, Richie. Come on, you’re fine. Hey, you’re ok. These are things you can’t control, right. Hey, these are things we can’t control. And when there are things we can’t control, you’ve got to be ok with them. You hear me?”

THE ULTIMATE FIGHTER: UNDEFEATED episode 7 premieres on BT Sport 2 at 3 a.m. BST on the morning of Thursday, May 31. Watch the repeat on BT Sport 2 on Thursday, May 31 from 10 p.m. BST.