The new Power Slap league is reminiscent of mixed martial arts’ multi-layered problems. They all stem from one simple fact: rich white men create opportunities for poor people to try and destroy each other. That depraved notion is also very profitable.
Although many combat sports athletes chase the macho glory that only comes from dominating another competitor in a ring or cage, some behind the scenes see it as an opportunity to use the desperation of poverty for their extreme profitability.
But that’s a one-way door where most fighters never get rich.
Stefon Diggs reacting to power slap competition got me crying 🤣🤣🤣🤣 pic.twitter.com/tGl9eqE63b
— Shannonnn sharpes Burner (PARODY Account) (@shannonsharpeee) January 19, 2023
The Next Blood Sport Hustle?
Enter Power Slap, the sanctioned and regulated combat sport focused on competitive open-handed striking. Touted as Dana White’s new slap-fighting combat sports league and sanctioned by the Nevada State Athletic Commission, White and his partners Lorenzo Fertitta and Craig Piligan have been down this road before. Fertitta and his brother Frank, owners of Station Casinos, were the investors for White when they took over the UFC and changed it from no weight classes and a spectacle to a sport. Piligan created The Ultimate Fighter television series that eventually took the UFC into the mainstream.
The more people learned about mixed martial arts and were exposed to the training, backstories, and fights, the more popular it became. White intends to replicate the same format with Power Slap.
The two fighters alternate between “striker” and “defender” positions, where the striker gets 30 seconds to wind up and slap their opponent. There are rounds, judging, and a 10-point system. The “strikers,” like the early UFC, are a mix of people from the Midwest, Deep South, and other rural areas. The sport hosts a mix of ex-military, former boxers, former MMA fighters, and more.
Prizefighters generally fight for the prize more than the glory, and there is always the promise of another level of currency if you stay in the game and keep winning. But it is a trap for most.
UFC Known For Shortchanging Fighters
The UFC is notorious for its underpayment of most fighters, with a select few champions receiving pay-per-view points. Recently, former UFC flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson kept it real during a Twitch session on his low paydays as a champion and why he left the organization.
DJ TALKING ABOUT HIS UFC CONTRACT. HE WAS STUCK MAKING 30/30 IN HIS 3RD TITLE DEFENSE. pic.twitter.com/0HZV9Tjcza
— Chungus Supreme (@FightsCameraPod) January 18, 2023
“When I fought Dominick Cruz [for the bantamweight title in 2011], I was on a contract [ I think I was fighting for ($14,000 to show] and [$14,000 to win],” Johnson said during one of his recent Twitch streams. “I lost to Dominick Cruz, so I made $14K. Then I was about to fight Eddie Wineland, and that didn’t go through, so I fought Ian McCall in Australia. I was still on that same contract. And then I got a new contract when I fought Ian McCall the second time. I think I got bumped up to [$20,000] and [$20,000].
“I finally got a new contract as champion, and I think it was [$125,000 to show] and [$50,000 to win], but I couldn’t get pay-per-view points — and that’s where a champion makes most of their bang for their buck, is the pay-per-view points.”
Johnson bounced from the organization in 2018 and is now the flyweight champion for the Singapore-based MMA organization ONE Championship. UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou just left the organization after the organization agreed to his basic demands of the ability to solicit sponsors, health insurance for the fighters, and a fighter advocate at the negotiating table.
“I think I just need some respect, more respect at least,” Ngannou said on The MMA Hour. “It’s very important. I need some freedom. I need to feel like a man, own my freedom, control my destiny.”
The Real Power Slap
With Power Slap, White and his partners, who already cashed in on their UFC investment with a $4.5 billion payday, are looking to keep the good times rolling financially. But it comes again at the cost of fighters’ rights and health.
Neuroscientist Chris Nowinski, a leading expert on concussions, tweeted his concerns after watching Power Slap on TBS.
“This is so sad. Note the fencing posture with the first brain injury. He may never be the same,” Nowinski tweeted. “Dana White & TBS should be ashamed. Pure exploitation. What’s next, ‘Who can survive a stabbing’?”
With Power Slap already making White look like the heel of combat sports for advocating for the defenseless power slapping of people’s faces, the same cycle of small purses, no athletic sponsors, and massive paydays for the ownership group rolls on.