Slap fighting league makes debut

UFC boss Dana White unveiled his newest brainchild Wednesday, a no-holds-barred slap fighting league called “Power Slap.”

The neolithic display of aggression and brutality positions two men on opposite ends of a stand. The competitors take turns slapping each other in the face while the slap-ee holds their hands behind their back until a winner is eventually decided. There are three rounds of slaps, and matches can be determined by scoring, KO, TKO, or disqualification.

it’s “insanely entertaining” and is here to stay

Unsurprisingly, many health experts – and advocates of not getting slapped in the face – have taken issue with the league. But White, already a mainstay in Las Vegas because of his MMA fighting business, says it’s “insanely entertaining” and is here to stay.

Quick opposition

Power Slap made its debut one week later than originally expected due to the controversy involving White, who was caught on camera slapping his wife during a New Year’s Eve event in Cabo San Lucas. 

White has not been reprimanded for his actions and feels that the criticism he’s received has been punishment enough. 

Although White may escape his controversy relatively unscathed, a leading neuroscientist believes that the punishment that White’s new slap fighters are taking is too much. 

Chris Nowinski, a former WWE wrestler and founder of the Concussion Legacy Foundation, commented on a clip from Power Slap’s debut. 

“This is so sad,” Nowinski tweeted. “Note the fencing posture with the first brain injury. He may never be the same. @danawhite & @TBSNetwork should be ashamed. Pure exploitation. What’s next, ‘Who can survive a stabbing’?”

Fencing posture is the body’s response to suffering traumatic brain injuries like concussions. The arms extend unnaturally from the body and flex for a few seconds until the immediate impact wears off.

White has reassured skeptics that safety measures are taken seriously. 

us getting involved guarantees [slap fighting] will get much safer”

“I know there are a lot of concerns about health and safety,” White said last November. “But us getting involved guarantees [slap fighting] will get much safer.”

Fighters are prevented from striking opponents in the temple, orbit, nose, ear, or larynx, and officials are positioned by competitors to catch them if they fall. That being said, there is still grave concern over the defenselessness of the fighters and the glaring opportunity for brain injuries.

Troubling precedent

Slap fighting first went viral on social media a few years ago at an eastern European event. 375-pound Vasiliy “Dumpling” Khamotiskiy was one of the early heroes for his raw power and menacing nature.

Khamotiskiy took off-kilter fighting to different extremes, even going so far as to fight another man inside a phone booth on top of a frozen lake.

Unfortunately, the online sensation took a turn for the worse later in 2021. Polish bodybuilder-turned-slap fighter Artur “Waluś“ Walczak suffered cerebral hemorrhaging, or a brain bleed, during a fight in which he was knocked down four times. He was taken to a hospital, placed in a medical coma, and eventually died from multi-organ failure.

Polish authorities launched an investigation into the safety of the event after his death. The event, known as Punchdown, also released the following statement after Walczak was taken to the hospital:

“The competitor [Walczak] remained aware, but the disturbing neurological symptoms observed by the rescuers prompted them to call the ambulance service.”

You will make sure no one dies?”

In light of the harrowing precedent, Nevada State Athletic Commissioner Stephen Cloobeck made officials answer one simple question when discussing the league last November: “You will make sure no one dies?”

White says that he has been researching the sport since 2017. He also responded to critics by saying that his fighters are being hit less than combatants in other sports, making it safer.

“In Slap [fighting], they take three-to-five slaps per event,” said White. “Fighters in boxing take 300-400 punches per fight. And guess what: you know what my answer to that is? If you don’t f—ing like it, don’t watch it.”