Being smashed in the back of the head by a flying elbow must have almost come as a relief for Queenstown cage fighter Jason Smith.
The crushing blow by rival Mitch McKay knocked him out just three and a half minutes into a bruising bout in Mosgiel last Saturday.
But before he was put out of his misery, the tough-guy Queenstowner says he was “kneed in the nuts a couple of times” and was the victim of “four illegal elbows”.
Usually it’s a free-for-all in the mixed martial art sport, with any fighting techniques allowed.
But Smith claims some restrictions were supposed to have been imposed for the weekend battle, ironically to protect the less-experienced McKay.
For starters, can-openers – “cranking on your neck until you blow a disc” – were banned.
Elbows to the back of the head were supposed to be out, while kicking the groin is always a no-go zone in cage fighting.
For about half an hour after the bout, Smith’s sight was also blurred and for few minutes he couldn’t see at all.
But McKay threw the rule book out the window, Smith claims.
And the Queenstowner is still nursing his wounds after the knockout.
“I’m still not too sure whereabouts I am with my head at the moment,” he says, laughing.
But he insists he isn’t too upset, despite losing to a “dirty” grappler.
“I was doing pretty well but he got lucky so it just means I’ve got to improve a bit more,” the 27-year-old says.
“There’s no reason for me to be gutted at all.”
Smith’s knockout added to a bad weekend for Queenstown cage fighting, with another local contender Phil McKegg also losing a bout in Dunedin.