When Abdel Medjedoub arrived in Las Vegas to appear on the 23rd installment of The Ultimate Fighter, he was focused on winning the light heavyweight tournament and securing a UFC contract. He defeated John Paul Elias during the preliminary round and earned a spot in the fighter house, but soon found himself fighting another battle.
During the fifth episode, Medjedoub’s wife contacted the show’s producers and demanded to speak to her husband. Producers allowed her to speak with him and she gave Medjedoub an ultimatum.
“Abdel is the last light heavyweight that hasn’t fought yet on Claudia Gadelha’s team, and he’s in a weird situation because he’s having serious personal problems right now. Basically, his wife said if you do not quit the competition and come home, I’m going to leave you,” explained UFC president Dana White.
“After sitting down and talking with Abdel and finding out what the situation was and what he was dealing with, I felt the best thing to do was to let him get on the phone and talk to his wife,” said the UFC president.
Medjedoub admitted to doing something “wrong,” but wouldn’t say anything more.
“I’m in a bad situation. My wife, she’s upset. I don’t have an excuse for what I did,” he said.
Placed between a rock and a hard place, Medjedoub was going to have to make a choice. If he stayed on the show, his wife was going to leave him. If he left the show, he believed his shot in the UFC would be forever dashed.
“I worked so hard for this moment. I moved from France to Montreal for this dream. I know if I leave, I burn all my chance in the UFC,” he said. “I want to stay in the house and try to win this show, but I don’t want to lose her.”
After meeting with Medjedoub, White decided to do something rarely done in the show’s history. He allowed Abdel to go home and return to the show.
“I’m going to let you go home. I’m going to let you deal with this, and I’m going to let you come back,” said White. “Go home, take care of her, get this straightened out, and I’ll let you come back.”
Leaving the fighter house is something that got Jeremy Jackson kicked off the show in Season 4. Michael Chiesa was allowed to leave and return during TUF 15 to attend his father’s funeral, but typically no fighter can leave the house.
“Once fighters make the decision to come to The Ultimate Fighter, and this is what they want to do, there’s no going home. There’s no talking to family members, but this is a real weird situation,” said White.
“I don’t want Abdel to have to choose between his career and his marriage, so I decided to let him fly home, fix his marriage, take care of his wife, and be back before the next fight happens. I’m going to give him that opportunity to come back and try to win this thing.”
Medjedoub returned to the set in high spirits and refocused.
“I went there. I fixed everything. I took my responsibility like a man. It’s my fault 1000-percent,” he said.
“I’m here to finish my job.”