Karina Smirnoff and Ralph Macchio
05/18/2011 at 10:00 AM EDT
It was a sad farewell for Ralph Macchio and Karina Smirnoff, who were just shy of making it to the final round
of Dancing with the Stars
on Tuesday night.
But their elimination wasn't exactly a shocker.
"We feel like the comments from the judges last night put us in a pretty tough position – even for our fan base – to pull out of it," Macchio, 49, told PEOPLE backstage following news of his dismissal.
"That was unfortunate because I thought some of the comments were disrespectful and not constructive for how I can better myself."
The former Karate Kid
star, who says he felt like the judges were "making fun" of him and Smirnoff, argues that it was inappropriate. "I thought we earned respect over the season," he says.
"It just felt like the playing field wasn't level for some reason last night," he continued. "That was disappointing. But I was ready for this [elimination]."
Macchio believes Chelsea Kane
is the best dancer of the remaining stars competing on the show, but based on his own experience, he thinks it's anyone's trophy.
"It's tough to predict, because I would not have predicted the comments we got last night," he says.
But even more than missing out on the coveted disco ball trophy, Macchio says he will truly miss his partner
"It's going to be separation anxiety for sure," he says. "You're literally in a room for eight hours a day for two and a half months. We've become such great friends throughout. I think we've enhanced each others' lives."
Adds Smirnoff: " Sometimes you have to create and force this chemistry and try to pretend that you're friends. This was real – every moment we were together."