Gilbert Smith retired on national television.
Now he'd like to do it in front of his family and a slew of new friends.
Smith, who left his gloves in the cage after a loss on the UFC reality series "The Ultimate Fighter: Redemption" Episode 9 that aired June 14, recently said he was disappointed the UFC hasn't called to give him one last fight and the chance to retire in front of loved ones.
"One of the things I didn't like about retiring on TV was I didn't have my family around," Smith told The Gazette. "It's one thing to retire with a bunch of guys who don't know me and don't care about me and they'll forget about me in a week or so because they're doing their own thing. I told my coaches ... I want to have a fight that we walk out together one last time."
Smith, who co-owns and operates Victory MMA and Hustle Hard Boxing in Colorado Springs, opened the show with a victory in Episode 1. His next fight was a three-round, unanimous decision loss to Dhiego Lima. The fight was so competitive and Smith's retirement speech so compelling that his Twitter and Instagram pages blew up.
"I get three things," he said, "I get, 'Hey man, that was fight of the season;' two: 'You won that fight;' and three: 'Don't retire.'"
He's had thousands reach out to him via social media and tens of thousands view videos of his fight.
It also had one of the producers telling Smith after the show was taped to be ready for a call from the UFC, Smith said.
But instead of a call to fight, Smith was told by UFC matchmaker Sean Shelby that the promotion was cutting him.
"OK, the judges gave a wrong decision," Smith said. "Whatever happened, happened, all right. But for the UFC to not give me a shot and to release me and say, 'Hey man, thank you but forget you,' that breaks my heart more than anything."
Smith thinks the public comments should carry some weight.
"People are not just supporting me because they think I'm a good fighter, they are emotionally connected to me," he said. "They don't like me because I'm a good fighter, they like me because they think I'm a good person."
His retirement speech had some fans teary-eyed, he said.
Smith said other than the finalists and other two semifinalists it doesn't look like anyone will get a chance to show their talent live at the finale in Las Vegas on July 7. Smith lost in the quarterfinals.
Fighting at a low-level, regional promotion isn't something that interests Smith because the money wouldn't be enough. A return to Bellator or a fight in the LFA could draw him back, but for the moment he hasn't received interest.
"I just feel like it would've been a great story," Smith said. "You want to talk about last shots: he put in work, he won his first fight, got fight of the season, he made everybody emotionally connected with him. Let's give this guy one fight. Everybody is going to watch.
"OK, Gilbert, you got your shot, now what are you going to do with it. . Who doesn't want to see how the story finishes?"