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In hindsight, Josh Emmett ‘truly blessed’ he wasn’t selected for The Ultimate Fighter

After receiving a UFC contract earlier this year, Josh Emmett is glad he wasn’t selected to be a competitor on The Ultimate Fighter 22 last year.

MMA: UFC Fight Night-Tuck vs Emmett Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports

After years of being told he was on the UFC’s radar, Josh Emmett finally made it to the premier mixed martial arts organization this past May. He made his debut at UFC Fight Night 87 in Rotterdam, Netherlands on very short notice against Jon Tuck, and pulled off the minor upset. That wasn’t when he initially expected his debut to take place though.

The Team Alpha Male product was slated to compete on The Ultimate Fighter 22 last summer, unbeknownst to many. And, according to him, he was told after performing well at the tryouts it was essentially a given he would be on the show.

Well, that ended up not being the case.

“I was out there. I did really well when I hit mitts, I grappled, I went to the next levels. I did all the interviews. I did really well. I made the final cuts. I stayed out in Vegas and did all my medicals. I was down to the last 30 or 40 people and [Team Alpha Male’s Urijah] Faber was coaching,” Emmett told’s The MMA Circus. “So I thought it was just a for sure thing I was getting on the show. All this type of stuff. I actually didn’t take one fight — I was going to fight another UFC vet.”

“Basically, the producers told me that if I was serious about being on the show, they don’t want to risk me getting injured. And that they were most likely sure I was going to make the show so not to take that fight. So I didn’t. I knew everybody was flying out to Vegas soon, so I emailed the producers and I was like, ‘Oh, when am I going to get the itinerary? Because I know the show is starting soon.’ And then that’s when I found out I wasn’t selected.”

Soon after, Emmett, who is undefeated, discovered that a former opponent of his in Brandon Ricetti was a competitor on the show. Meanwhile, Emmett was just selected as an alternate.

“But then I found out that a guy I previously fought — his last loss was to me — made the show,” Emmett said. “And I was like, ‘Man, what is going on?’”

To this day, the 31-year-old doesn’t know why he wasn’t selected to participate in the reality television show.

“I don’t know. For me, I truly think everything happens for a reason. And every little obstacle — I was supposed to do this, and I got injured, or someone else got injured, and it ended up not happening. And it always led me to something better and better,” he said. “So whatever was going on with the universe — maybe I just wasn’t supposed to be on that show because it put me into the situation I am in now. I’m not too sure, though. I have no idea.”

Faber tried to convince the current UFC lightweight that he was just “too good for the show” and would run through the other fighters. That didn’t serve as any motivation for Emmett or make him feel good, though.

“Faber was telling me, he was just like, ‘Man, I think you’re too good for the show, and they know you would go in there and clean out the division, and it would be truly one-sided fights,’” he said. “And I was like, ‘Ehh.’ But still, that didn’t make me feel any better.”

Emmett still got the opportunity to partake in The Ultimate Fighter 22 festivities in Las Vegas, but just as a competitor.

“[Faber] wanted me to be involved, so I still went down to Vegas and helped coach for three, four weeks,” he said. “And it was cool. Everyone was really cool — even all the guys from the European team — and everyone was a hard worker. It was cool to see that.”

Despite wanting to get a spot on The Ultimate Fighter 22 very badly, Emmett is happy the UFC brass didn't select him for the show, in hindsight.

“Once I was there, I really don’t think I would have liked the show,” he said. “You’re out of your element. It all revolves around the cameras. You can’t listen to music, you can’t watch TV, you can’t read books. They want you to have a lot of confrontations. And that’s just not me in general.

“I’m glad I didn’t get selected for the show. I truly don’t think I would have liked to be in that house for six, seven weeks with the circumstances. They fought so much. It’s kind of crazy. Some guys would fight on a Wednesday, and then turn around and fight on Monday being all banged up. After all my fights, I’m pretty banged up. So say I got some injury like I did in the Tuck fight, I would be out of the competition. And that would be depressing. Or if you broke something, or even just had a swollen hand, and then you have to hide it so you can fight. I’m truly blessed I didn’t make it. It led me to bigger and better things. I have no complaints there. I truly believe everything happens for a reason, so I’m going to stick with that.”

On Episode 71 of The MMA Circus, Emmett also reveals that he would have retired at the end of 2016 had he not been signed to the UFC, gives his take on why T.J. Dillashaw’s departure from Team Alpha Male last year created so much buzz in the media, and discusses stepping into enemy territory at UFC on FOX 21 in Vancouver later this month.

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