In a rare occurrence on The Ultimate Fighter series, one fighter was unable make it to the Octagon just moments before showtime.
Team Cormier lightweight Richie Smullen suffered a major leg cramp while in the locker room preparing for his bout with Team Miocic’s Allan Zuniga and he was forced to withdraw from the contest, giving Zuniga the win by disqualification.
Neither Smullen, his coaches, nor an attending physician could determine why Smullen’s leg was suddenly giving him problems as he was medically cleared an hour before and hardly cut any weight for of his fight with Zuniga. Extra time was given for Smullen to rest and recover from the mysterious ailment, but it was eventually ruled that he would not be able to compete.
The 25-year-old Zuniga becomes coach Stipe Miocic’s second fighter to advance in the TUF 27 competition, which is composed entirely of fighters with undefeated records. Hailing from Costa Rica, Zuniga entered the TUF house with a 13-0 record, while Dubin’s Smullen was 3-0-1 as a professional.
All the contestants will technically remain unbeaten until the finale on July 6, due to TUF bouts being classified as exhibitions.
“There’s a lot of things going through my mind right now,” Smullen said in a testimonial. “Like, when all this comes out, having to explain yourself. It feels like I disappointed people back home. I told family I’m going over for six weeks to win this show. I came here for the six weeks and I didn’t even get to fight.”
Afterwards, Zuniga became emotional that he was not able to fight and possibly earn a win bonus, and UFC president Dana White arrived to try and calm him down. Miocic lauded Zuniga for his passion.
In other bad news for coach Daniel Cormier, another one of his winning fighters was forced out of the competition. Ricky Steele advanced in the competition with a unanimous decision nod over Suman Mokhtarian, but experienced health problems shortly after. Though Steele was fortunate to only have contusions in his foot, Cormier insisted that he go to the doctor to get his head checked out and he was diagnosed with concussion-like symptoms.
A doctor ruled that Steele would not be allowed to continue in the tournament. He joins teammate Luis Pena on the sidelines. Pena also won his first fight, only to be removed from the competition with a foot injury.
Here are the first-round results so far:
Joe Giannetti def. John Gunther via technical submission (guillotine choke) in Round 1
Brad Katona def. Kyler Phillips via majority decision
Luis Pena def. Jose Martinez via unanimous decision
Bryce Mitchell def. Jay Cucciniello via unanimous decision
Mike Trizano def. Thai Clark via TKO (ground and pound) in Round 2
Ricky Steele def. Suman Mokhtarian via unanimous decision
Allan Zuniga def. Richie Smullen via disqualification (injury)
On next week’s episode, Team Cormier’s Tyler Diamond fights Team Miocic’s Dulani Perry in a featherweight bout.
Season 27 of The Ultimate Fighter is being coached by UFC light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier and UFC heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic. Cormier challenges Miocic for the heavyweight title in the main event of UFC 226 on July 7 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
The finalists of the TUF 27 lightweight and featherweight tournaments will compete for a six-figure UFC contract on July 6, also in Las Vegas.
Here is the TUF 27 roster divided by team:
Advancing to Round 2: Giannetti, Katona, Pena (forced to withdraw due to injury), Mitchell, Trizano, Steele (forced to withdraw due to concussion symptoms), Zuniga
Eliminated: Gunther, Phillips, Martinez, Cucciniello, Clark, Mokhtarian, Smullen