Joanna Jedrzejczyk had just returned to her locker room after a brutal fight with Zhang Weili at UFC 248.
Jedrzejczyk had fought to the finish in what was, according to UFC president Dana White, “one of the best” contests in MMA history.
The Polish fighter knew her face was disfigured. She just didn’t realise just how much until she looked in the mirror.
“I was like ‘holy moly’,” she told BBC Sport. “I looked like a zombie.”
‘JJ’ had a gruesome swelling on her forehead. One of her eyes had swollen shut. She had suffered a huge haematoma.
Her twin sister had to help her take a shower before the fighter, 32, spent the night in a Las Vegas hospital.
“One day I’ll post pictures of how I looked,” she said. “It was so funny; some people didn’t even recognise me.”
Thankfully she can laugh about it now; the result still hurts, though.
Already considered an MMA great, Jedrzejczyk aimed to regain the strawweight title on 7 March from Weili, who was making her first defence after becoming China’s first UFC champion.
Weili’s right eye closed up early, then Jedrzejczyk’s forehead started swelling in the third round. The swollen section got so big that her physio was afraid it would burst. “It could’ve scarred half my face,” said Jedrzejczyk.
“It was so painful. For a split-second, I questioned if I should stop, but I was still going…