Earlier this week, it was confirmed that White’s desire to capitalize on the growing interest in slap fighting has taken a sizable step closer to reality. The unique form of combat first rose to prominent in Russia and Europe, and sees two combatants forcefully strike one another with open palms until one is either knocked out or concedes defeat.
The UFC president is now looking to bring slap fighting over to mainstream audiences in the United States with his own league, which the NSAC has approved and agreed to regulate ahead of a November or December event, slated to be broadcast on a major network according to MMA reporter John Morgan.
The announcement has certainly seen mixed reviews. While some are intrigued by the prospect of seeing a unique and relatively new sport on their screens, others have dismissed it as nothing but an extremely unsafe venture.
Helwani Tells White: ‘You Can’t Preach Fighter Safety Again’
During a recent episode of The MMA Hour, host Helwani was asked about his thoughts on the commission’s decision to regulate slap fighting.
In terms of the sport’s interest and marketability, the Canadian doubted whether it can cement itself as a legitimate form of combat with the same level of intrigue as the current sports on offer.
“You can not tell me — look, I don’t watch, I see a bunch of clips here and there. I don’t think this is going to become a thing,” Helwani said. “I don’t think it has the longevity. I don’t think there’s enough interest. It’s very, very niche. It almost feels like it’s built for TikTok or Instagram, right? It’s built to have that one-minute highlight, and that’s it.”
Perhaps more so than marketability, though, Helwani’s real issue lies with the glaring health alarms that ring whenever slap fighting takes place.
While combat sports like MMA and boxing provide a battle of offense and defense, with fighters hoping to perfect the art of ‘hit and not be hit’, that option isn’t available in slap fighting. The activity itself is designed so that damage and knockouts are inevitable.
With that in mind, Helwani insisted that neither White nor the commission can ever preach about a desire to improve fighter safety and heath whilst also being willing to promote and regulate such a dangerous sport.
“You can never talk to us about your interest, passion, and desire to keep fighters as healthy as possible, and to shy away from brain trauma, brain injury, and CTE and concussions, and then go and promote slap fighting,” Helwani stated. “(In) boxing and MMA, defense is paramount, right? You’re supposed to not try to get hit. Of course, knockouts, all that type of stuff, they’re promoted. But ultimately, what we want is for the fighters to be safe… Here, there’s nothing else. There is no defense. You just have to take it, literally take it and hope you don’t get knocked out.
“It’s really interesting that the Nevada Athletic Commission.. that they’ve approved it,” Helwani noted. “I wonder how they feel about when they talk to us about safety and all that stuff. It feels a little hypocritical to then say, ‘Alright, we’re gonna take this thing, sanction it, and let people get nailed in the head repeatedly,'” Helwani concluded.
White’s slap-fighting events won’t mark the first time a prominent figure has gotten involved in the controversial combative sport. Earlier this year, YouTube, boxing, and pro-wrestling star Logan Paul hosted the Slap Fighting Championship alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Do you agree with Ariel Helwani’s assessment of Dana White’s Power Slap League?
Please provide transcription credit with a link to this article if you use any of these quotes.