LAS VEGAS-Josh Stansbury felt his debut on The Ultimate Fighter 19 was going as well as it could.
The East Liverpool resident was landing some hard shots and felt he was in position to beat his first round opponent Chris Fields from Ireland. However, a pop in his left knee curtailed Stansbury's chances on the first episode of the mixed-martial arts reality show, which premiered Wednesday night.
"I thought the fight was going in my favor," Stansbury said. "I gave it everything I had. It's frustrating to be knocked out with an injury."
Stansbury sustained a torn meniscus and was laid up for six weeks after surgery. The show was taped in the middle of October, meaning Stansbury-who signed a confidentiality agreement along with his family and friends-had to keep quiet about his result until Wednesday night's premiere.
"I was a little uncomfortable with promoting myself on the fight when I knew I had lost," Stansbury said. "I felt a little bad about it. My family and close friends knew the result. I think some other people eventually caught on as well."
Stansbury said he was approached by a lot of people between October and the premiere who asked about the result and asked about his injury.
"I had a few different stories that I told so that I wouldn't give the show away," Stansbury said. "I told a lot of people it was just a little training injury. Mainly I just tried to lay low and not attract a huge amount of attention."
Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), which puts on the show, set Stansbury up with a surgeon in Pittsburgh shortly after the episode and paid for the surgery. He has been back in East Liverpool ever since.
"The knee healed up fine," Stansbury said. "I was able to get back to training in six weeks."
Stansbury is still under contract with UFC and has not fought anywhere since the show. He is holding out hope that he will be brought back on another UFC show in the future.
"While I'm still under contract, I'm not allowed to fight anywhere else," Stansbury said.
"I've just been training for the last few months and crossing my fingers that they bring me back for another show. I remember in previous seasons they've given guys who got hurt another chance."
Stansbury, who is 29, said he will not give up his dream of becoming a UFC fighter even if he is not brought back.
"I will keep fighting in local events if that happens and try to keep getting exposure," Stansbury said. "That's what it's all about."
Despite already knowing the outcome, Stansbury had a nice time at a viewing party for the episode held Wednesday night at Zatta's Pub in East Liverpool. Many people from the town showed up to support him. Stansbury said his Twitter account was overwhelmed with well-wishers after the episode.
"I've been blown away and very humbled by all the support I have received from the community," Stansbury said. "They have helped keep me going."