Mario, Karina Smirnoff, Dancing with the Stars

ABC

Did Cristián de la Fuente fake his injury because he took a misstep during his performance on last night’s Dancing With the Stars? Of course not!

But his fellow competitor, R&B singer Mario, actually had his suspicions for about a split second.

Read on for my exclusive weekly chat with Mario to hear what he has to say about de la Fuente’s injury, his plans to sing on the show and what he thinks of judge Len Goodman’s latest praise and, of course, criticism...

Len actually said your mambo was "wonderful"! Finally, he had something really nice to say. Do you think you've finally won Len over?
I’ve improved in different areas, so Len notices them, some of them—but others he doesn’t. This week he said I did really good in my footwork, and that’s something he’s always been critiquing me on. But then he comes around and says I’m too young to dance the fox-trot. What do I do? Grow 10 years older in a matter of a week? I can’t do that! And I’m sorry I’m not as stiff as you, but I’ll work on it.

What's going on with your plans to sing on the show?
We’re working out the specifics right now and getting the production ready. By the next week, I’ll definitely have something for you.

What was your first reaction when you saw that Cristián was hurt?
Oh, he’s cheating! He’s just doing this because he messed up a step. But then I looked and he was holding his arm. When the paramedics came, I realized it could be something serious. Hopefully everything's OK and he comes back to continue to compete—I’d hate for him to be excused from this competition for something like that, after he’s come so far.

What did everyone say when he got hurt?
Everybody was just kind of flabbergasted, like, "OK, what is going on? What just happened?" Everybody was surprised to see him not dancing. It was like, "Whoa! Is that part of the routine?" Because a lot of times, even when you hurt yourself, your adrenaline is so much that you continue dancing.

At first, he did try to keep dancing. Would have you done the same?
Absolutely! I’ve been hurt before. I broke my toe in another performance. Not this show, but on stage, and I performed the rest of the 45-minute show on a broken toe. It was killing me! After the show I went backstage and just collapsed.

—Additional reporting by Laura Lane

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