What To Know About The Controversial New Combat Sport Trying To Grow As Medical Experts Disapprove

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The Florida Athletic Commission has shelved a request to open a slap-fighting league pending advice from medical experts, martial arts website Bloody Elbow reported Tuesday, as outrage and concern grows over the recently televised sport.

Important facts

Lex McMahon and Jeff Aronson, who run mixed martial arts organization Titan Fighting Championship, wrote a letter to the commission in November asking them to oversee a new slap fighting league called SLAP CLUB, but the The Commission has not released any information on the likelihood or timeline for the club’s approval.

UFC President Dana White’s power slap reportedly became America’s first regulated slap fight league when the Nevada State Athletics Commission agreed to oversee the organization in October.

Power Slap: Road to Title, which aired on TBS in January, followed 30 power slap contestants over eight episodes as they battled it out for the league’s first title shot – and has raised the sport’s profile and drawn criticism.

Slap fighting is often criticized as unsafe and has caused at least one death – Polish slap fighter Artur Walczack suffered a brain hemorrhage during a match and died of multiple organ failure in November 2021.

White calls slap fighting critics “idiots” and claims the event is safer than boxing New York Times According to reports, fighting boxers take hundreds of hits per bout, while slap fighters typically take between three and five hits.

Hunter Campbell, co-owner of Power Slap and UFC chief executive, says regulations make slap fighting safer — Power Slap requires opponents to wear earplugs and mouthguards, gives people the opportunity to catch opponents if they’ve been knocked unconscious, and penalizes behaviors such as slapping the eyes or mouth; and divides competitors into MMA weight classes.

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Punch fighting reportedly began in Russia and usually involves two opponents smacking each other in the face with their open palms – usually until one is unable to continue.

Slap fighting gained popularity during the pandemic as videos of the event, including competitions like the Male Slapping Championships, began racking up millions of views. American slap fighting leagues have been around since at least 2017, the same year Washington Post reports that White was inspired to televise the event. In a Power Slap match, opponents are scored based on the amount of damage they deal and how well they absorb hits. Each match is divided into up to ten rounds, with participants giving and receiving a slap in the face per round. If the person being hit – the defender – cannot recover from the hit within 60 seconds, they lose the match. Defenders are also penalized for flinching, which includes ducking their heads, shrugging their shoulders, or turning their bodies to protect their faces. The person hitting – the forward – must have both feet on the ground before hitting the defender with the heel, palm and fingers at the same time. They may “wind up” or practice the trajectory of their swing up to two times as long as they tell the umpire and defender how they wish to execute the practice swings. Forwards will be penalized for raising their feet, inappropriately hitting or spitting, and hitting the defender’s eyes, ears, mouth and temple.

Surprising fact

Arnold Schwarzzaneger and internet personality Logan Paul hosted the Slap Fighting Championship, an unregulated slap fighting league, at the Arnold Classic Sports Festival in March 2022. Headliner Dawid “Zales” Zalewski, who knocked out his opponent Koa “Da Crazy Hawaiian” Viernes, is the competitor who caused Walczack’s fatal complications in 2021.

Big number

413,000. That’s the number of viewers Power Slap: Road to Title pulled for its episode debut in week two — and the best it’s gotten in the entire season. The show averages 309,000 viewers per episode despite following the hugely popular show AEW wrestlingwhich has drawn an average of 922,000 viewers per episode over the past seven weeks.

main critic

Neuroscientists say slap fighting isn’t safe for competitors, even in a regulated league. Nitin Agarwal, a neuroscientist who studies traumatic brain injury at Washington University School of Medicine, told the Washington Post, “These people pass out from one blow. In reality … they sustained traumatic brain injury.” Geoffrey Manley, vice chair of neurological surgery at the University of California, San Francisco, told dem Just that a blow to the cheek and side of the head causes the brain to twist in the skull, which can damage nerves. Enduring multiple of these hits increases a person’s risk for dementia and chronic traumatic encephalopathy, Manley says. Other, including Bill Pascrell, Representative from New Jersey, criticize turn the brutal spectacle into entertainment.

What to look out for

Whether the sport will grow in the face of heavy criticism from medical experts. The last episode of power slap will be broadcast on Wednesday. Power Slap is hosting its first live slap fight at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas this Saturday and will feature 13 fights and award heavyweight, light heavyweight, middleweight and welterweight titles.

Further reading

Face Slapping on TV? What will we? (New York)

Titan FC Managers Want To Launch Slap Fighting Promotion, Florida Commission Denies Approval (Bloody Elbow)

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