Power slapping is the latest new sporting phenomenon to go viral, with a new controversial American power slap television show leaving fans speechless.
If you’ve been on social media in the last week, chances are you’ve seen the brutal video of two Romanian juggernauts throwing bludgeoning slaps at one another, leaving one of the contestants’ faces completely battered.
Well, this new trend is by no means exclusive to southeastern Europe; the sporting endeavour is growing across the world and nowhere more so than in the United States.
Wednesday marked the premiere of the brand-new television show Power Slap: Road to the Title, which sees Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) President Dana recruiting the world’s best power slappers to form a new league in America.
The premise of the sport is fairly simple; contestants take it in turns to slap each other in the face with the aim of knocking the opponent out or forcing them to quit.
The Nevada States Athletic Commission (NSAC) will oversee the show, with fighters given 30 seconds to deliver the slap and an additional 30 seconds for recovery.
Contestants of the show will be coached by some of the premier slap fighters in the world – similar to what the UFC did with their hit reality show The Ultimate Fighter – before competing on slap fighting’s very first pay-per-view.
Dana White plans to headline the event with the coaches, Darius ‘The Destroyer’ Mata-Verona and Ron ‘Wolverine’ Bata, squaring off in rematch of a previous fight. Their barbaric last encounter lasted 27 rounds, with Mata-Verona coming out victorious.
The show was mired in controversy even before it even made it to air.
The debut episode was due to air on 11 January, but it was delayed one week due to a video surfacing of Dana White hitting his wife on New Year’s Eve.
With the first episode having now aired, viewers, pundits and ex-fighters alike have slammed the show for its brutality.
Former WWE wrestler and neuroscientist Chris Nowinski was critical of the new show. He tweeted, “This is so sad. Note the fencing posture with the first brain injury, he may never be the same.”
“Dana White and TBS should be ashamed. Pure exploitation. What’s next, “Who can survive a stabbing?”
Former UFC fighter turned podcaster and comedian Brendan Schaub – who already has a rocky relationship with the UFC President – also dismissed the event.
“Checking out the Slap fight league,” he tweeted, “This is the stupidest sh*t I’ve ever seen.”
“The fact it is associated with the UFC sets the sport back 10 yrs.”
However, he also added, “All that being said it’s entertaining.”
‘Watch The Voice’
Despite the backlash, Dana White has hit back at his critics.
“We spend the money to make sure we have two healthy people in there and proper medical attention during and after the fight,” he said.
“In Slap, they take three-to-five slaps per event. Fighters in boxing take 300-400 punches per fight.”
He continued, “If you don’t f*cking like it, don’t watch it! Nobody’s asking you to watch this. Oh, you’re disgusted by it? Watch ‘The Voice.”
The show – and the health considerations mentioned by White – are indicative that slap fighting is moving away from its ‘wild west’ beginnings, similar to the UFC’s journey from underground fighting to a mainstay on ESPN.
Should the new power slap league be successful, it may well be legitimised as the next big combat sport.