May 16, 2012 at 11:45 AM ET
It was a shocker for many ballroom fans to see Maria Menounos, who received a chart-topping 59 (out of 60) points on Monday night's "Dancing With the Stars," sent home just before the finals. But that’s just what happened.
Who wasn’t surprised? Menounos’ own partner Derek Hough.
"I had a feeling," he told Today.com shortly after the ouster. "(Monday) night was so much fun. I almost felt like, 'OK. That was it.'"
In fact, both Menounos and Hough were ready for the elimination play out the way it did.
"I had a real sense of calm (on Tuesday)," Menounos admitted. "I said, 'Whatever happens will happen.' I’m going to be good. But yes, Derek told me, ‘Babe, I think we’re getting eliminated.’ I was like, 'Really?' He said, 'Yeah.' I said, 'OK. I’m going to prepare.'"
Hough, a three-time winner of "DWTS," felt that it was his duty to help prepare his partner. He also feels that it’s better to either come in first place or fourth in the competition. Now, he and Menounos won’t have to prepare for next week’s dances, which include an all-out freestyle routine.
"The finals are really stressful," he noted. "It’s harder to be that close (to winning it all) than this close (where we come in fourth.) We literally had not had a bad dance. I felt like Monday night was Maria’s night. She kicked butt and got five 10s from the judges."
After Katherine Jenkins was injured at the conclusion of her second dance on Monday's performance show, Menounos dispatched her medical team to Jenkins. "Later, my team came up to me and said, 'Maria, we took care of (Katherine), but we shouldn’t do that anymore. She’s your competition.' I said, 'Guys! This isn’t the Olympics. She’s my friend. Go take care of her!'"
While Menounos and Hough now leave the finals to Jenkins, Donald Driver and William Levy and their pro partners, it won’t be long before "DWTS" fans see the eliminated pair again. The duo, along with all the other ejected pairs from this season, will return for next week’s finale and perform one last routine.
"That’s what is so great about (leaving just before the finals)," Hough pointed out. "You go the whole season long. You have a couple of days break and then you come back for the finale and you do one more dance!"
Michael Maloney is the author of "The Young and Restless Life of William J. Bell, creator of The Young and the Restless and The Bold and the Beautiful."
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