Mikey Burnett found himself on the TUF 4 comeback show some seven years after his last MMA fight, a win at UFC 18. His stay in the house would be controversial, though due to his fight which ended quickly with a triangle choke loss to Din Thomas. Instead Burnett’s major talking point on the show came when he decided it would be a good idea to repeatedly run into a wall in the house. Needless to say he came off second best in the exchange. As innocuous as it sounds the incident would later come back to haunt him when he is discovered to have a serious spinal injury that requires surgery. There are different accounts of how the damage was inflicted with Burnett suggesting it occurred during a training session on the show with Randy Couture.
In the final episode of the season it appears that Burnett is going to have the necessary operation, but things don’t go as planned after the cameras stop rolling. Burnett waits for the UFC or the insurance group who covered the show will pay for the procedure, but this does not happen, and he is unable to pay the bill himself. In 2008 he filed lawsuits against both the creators of the show, TufGuy productions (citing negligence in failing to provide a safe environment on the show), and AIG, an insurance company associated with the show (citing a breach of contract in regards to a payout for the injuries he sustained).
In the summer of 2009 Burnett announced that he was to retire from the sport due to his injury. To this day Burnett still hasn’t had the surgery on his neck, and due to the debilitating nature of the injury, it is believed it is now too late to repair the damage he has sustained. He takes regular pain medication and his symptoms now include partial paralysis and numbness in his arms. Still needing to provide for his two children, Burnett now teaches at his gym, the ‘Oklahoma Fight Club’ though he isn’t able to take part in activities like sparring. It is believed one of his lawsuits may finally go to court later this year after a series of appeals.