It is the most iconic occurrence in the sport of mixed martial arts or better yet, combat sports as a whole. The moment when time is suspended and the collective breath of onlookers and participants alike is taken away, if only for a few fleeting moments.
It is the knockout.
It's the blow that brings the fans to the arena, always anticipating the perverse pleasure they gain from witnessing the intense suffering of the athletes that sacrifice their bodies for our entertainment.
But what exactly does it mean to be "knocked out?"
Directly preceded by the deafening thud of a deadly strike connecting with human flesh and bone, it is the moment when one is separated from his senses and all semblance of human function is lost.
How does it feel? Join me after the jump for a firsthand account of what it's like to visit the often spoken of but rarely explained "Queer Street."
It should immediately be noted that a knockout isn't as simple as just taking a well-placed punch and losing consciousness. While that serves as the literal definition of the term, it's certainly not all encompassing.
In fact, there are three instances that I'll use as a guide to give you a look at what's it like, through my very own experiences, to be knocked out.
The Flash Knockout:
Surely you have heard the expression and, in this instance, it's to be taken literally because that's exactly how it feels.
Getting clipped directly on the chin from the side, my head has turned and snapped back, thus rattling my brain inside my cranium. A quick flash of darkness envelops the senses as the body shuts itself down and does a quick reboot. No sooner than the flash happens, sight returns as if no time has passed at all and nothing has even occurred.
I lost that second and have absolutely no memory of the strike. Often I see a fighter complain against a stoppage. This is because they do not know or remember getting hit and the ensuing fall. Later, a slight ringing in the ears occurs; it is heard best at night when everything is quiet and a constant noise sounds inside your head.
The danger in this form of "KO," is that it leaves your body prone to taking more substantial damage while you're temporarily out. A good example is when Keith Jardine connected clean on Chuck Liddell and "The Iceman" went down but immediately defended himself.
The Stunned Knockout:
After receiving a kick to the back of the head, I was out on my feet. My knees buckled and my vision was swimming. I don't remember every second and I'm told I talked in a slurred manner, as if I was drunk, as I tried to tell the opponent that he was an idiot for the illegal strike.
To myself, I sounded fine and was walking properly, but my body was not responding normally. I fell shortly thereafter. This condition is often referred to as being "rocked" and doing "The Chicken Dance" by UFC color commentator Joe Rogan.
The Clean Knockout:
You're out. You get hit, and you are gone. It is said that your body shuts itself down when experiencing a trauma to protect itself and the internal workings of your human organs.
It then restarts itself and brings your operating system back online. The danger in your body thinking it should "die" to protect itself, is that the possibility is always present that you could never wake back up.
While you're out, it is akin to being asleep. I have awoken as if from a deep sleep, and actually have felt extremely refreshed, that is, until the numbing pain of the strike that caused the forced nap flares up. It varies for everyone, but almost certainly some time has been lost and memory erased for what could be several minutes.
The sleep is so deep that it makes it impossible to actually know how long you have been out. Examples in MMA are plentiful, as you can see below.
The knockout, as enthralling as it is brutal, has been and will continue to be, a staple in mixed martial arts competition. Now you know not only what it is but how it feels; or at least that's the hope.
Feel free to share any stories you may have of a time you've felt the effects of being knocked out.