- Power Slap is a new slap-fighting venture brought to you by the main figureheads at the UFC.
- Slap fighting has polarized the combat sport industry as it has health and safety risks.
- A sports commissioner even requested assurances from Power Slap execs that there’ll be no deaths.
LAS VEGAS — A sports commissioner requested assurances from Power Slap executives that no one will die from competing in the controversial new sport of slap fighting.
“You will make sure no one dies?” Nevada State Athletic Commission chief Stephen Cloobeck asked UFC chief business officer Hunter Campbell at a regulatory meeting Insider attended Wednesday in Las Vegas.
“That is priority one, two, three,” Campbell said, counting all the way to ten. “That goes without saying. One of the reasons we tested this was to understand the health and safety aspect.”
Cloobeck, though, requested further assurances. “You will make sure that no one has severe brain injuries going forward?”
Said Campbell: “That’s correct.”
Slap fighting is UFC boss Dana White’s newest offering
UFC President Dana White, who helped propel mixed martial arts into prominence worldwide, is one of the brains behind bringing slap fighting to Nevada.
White told reporters earlier this month that he has been researching slap fighting since 2017, and was blown away by the social media numbers that clips of the sport’s concussive strikes had been generating.
The UFC boss wanted to create an entity separate from the UFC that could legitimize slap fighting in America, and so through Power Slap he requested regulation— something the Nevada commission granted in October.
“Thank you to the Nevada State Athletic Commission, and chairman Cloobeck.” said White. “There are official weight classes, rules, rankings, and extensive medical testing. The sport is now legit.”
White’s legit new sport, though, has polarized the combat industry. Traditionally in a combat sport like boxing, the art that fighters like Floyd Mayweather perfected was to hit and not get hit in return.
In slap fighting, defense is essentially outlawed. Participants take turns slapping one another as hard as they can. After three goes each, a winner is declared either by knockout, or decision.
Watch the official trailer for Power Slap:
“I know there are a lot of concerns about health and safety,” White said last week. “But us getting involved guarantees” slap fighting “will get much safer.”
Will slap fighting really become safer?
For Dr. Nitin Sethi, a neurologist and member of the Association of Ringside Physicians, it is unclear.
“We don’t have data to say if it’s safe, or unsafe,” Dr. Sethi told Insider recently.
It will only become apparent with time, if regulation will make the fringe combat sport safer as it enters the mainstream, has more participants, and provides medical professionals with data to determine whether that is indeed the case.
“Science will give us the data, and so science will give us the answer,” Sethi said.
Regarding the health and safety concerns of slap fighting generally, Sethi described the premise of the sport’s goal as rendering one’s opponent unable to continue because of the force and accuracy of an open palm strike.
“I’ve seen it happen where they buckle because the force of the slap is so hard. They sometimes have a glassy look in their eyes. Some, clearly, look concussed,” Dr. Sethi said.
“I don’t think there’s as big concerns with orthopedic injuries, like you’d see in MMA with all the armbars, kneebars, chokes.
“But, obviously, it doesn’t need a neurologist to say that concussions do occur … and that health and safety concerns are raised.
“Just exactly how big are these health and safety concerns, how frequent are these concussive injuries? I think these are where the rational discussions will take place amongst all concerned parties.”
Speaking in the aftermath of the Nevada commission regulating slap fighting, and in response to criticism of the sport, White compared Power Slap to boxing when speaking to MMA Fighting in October.
“In a boxing match, guys get hit with 300-400 punches in a fucking fight,” said White. “These guys are going to get hit with three slaps.”
There are inherent risks throughout combat sports and even contact sports, like football and lacrosse, Sethi told Insider.
“I respect Mr. Dana White,” Sethi said. “Obviously, he’s been in the sport for a long period of time and has a lot of experience. I respect his viewpoint, and we should respect everybody’s viewpoint.
“Slap fighting is not going to be any different to other combat or contact sports — all contact sports carry risk of concussive injuries,” he said, adding that he cannot just yet say for certain how the new sport can be made any safer. It is too early for that.
“We don’t have medical data about this sport,” he said. “MMA, meanwhile, has matured as a sport since Dana White took control of the UFC.
“They received pushback, but it has matured and the sport has become mainstream as health and safety issues got addressed.”
Slap fighting may well be similar, and it may well mature now that the sport is regulated by the Nevada commission and it becomes more mainstream, he said.
“With regulation, there is more medical oversight,” the neurologist said.
Power Slap will air its first season in early 2023
Now, with official sanctioning, Power Slap will debut in the coming months; it has a broadcast deal with TBS to air an eight-episode series in January 2023, according to White.
This introductory series will give birth to a rankings system across numerous weight classes.
From there, Power Slap fighters in each weight class will begin vying for the Power Slap championship belt.
Events will take place at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas.