On slap fighting, the dumbest sport imaginable, and the wealthy guys who want to own it all
Dana White's Power Slap League is now approved in the state of Nevada. Say that five times fast and see if maybe we shouldn't have come up with another name...
The concept of slap fighting is about as simple as it gets. This is one thing the “sport” has going for it. The list of other things it has going for it is pretty short, but simplicity is right near the top. Two people stand across from each other and take turns hitting each other in the face with an open hand until, one way or another, someone has had enough. They can’t defend or move their faces. They can’t even tuck their chins to help absorb the blow. It might be the only combat sport where any form of defense is expressly, explicitly banned. Just two yokels hauling off and smacking each other in the head on a turn-based basis.
This is what you’d get if you let 13-year-old boys invent a new sport. And now here it is, newly approved by the Nevada State Athletic Commission, a regulatory body apparently intent on proving that it can always sink lower.
Dana White’s Power Slap League is now a real thing that exists. Did the geniuses involved with the marketing here purposefully put the words “White” and “Power” so close together, or was that just a result of hastily throwing this thing together for the sake of a quick cash grab? We may never know. What we do know is that the UFC President, along with his old pals Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta, plus UFC exec Hunter Campbell and “Ultimate Fighter” producer Craig Pilligan, are all now in the slap fighting business.
I just have a couple questions. And I warn you, they are all going to sound dumb.
Question #1: Fucking why??
See, like I told you, dumb. Because we already know the answer, and the answer is money. The answer can only be money. There’s simply no way you can get me to believe that White and the Fertittas and the rest of the gang saw a Belarussian slap fighting competition on YouTube or some shit and said to each other, ‘this is an important movement and for the sake of our legacies we need to be a part of it.’ There’s just no way. Slap fighting is some backwater county fair-level sports entertainment, the kind of thing that goes on right after professional cow-tipping and before the Let’s All Kick Each Other In The Nuts competition. In other words, this is not the sport you create an LLC around for the love of the game.
Question #2: But wait, are there zero other ways to make money?
Here’s where an examination of likely motives gets interesting, because, hey, anyone else remember Zuffa Boxing? That was supposed to be White’s next big move in the combat sports space. He’d conquered MMA and had set his sights on boxing. Here’s a story from almost exactly two years ago where he promised a big Zuffa Boxing fight announcement coming soon. In the end, he never got past the printing up T-shirts phase. Boxing, White decided, was simply too “broken” for him to repair.
Of course, we all know what that means. He couldn’t figure out a way to do it and keep almost all the money, like he has with the UFC. In boxing, a promoter has to satisfy himself with more modest profits. And who has the time for that?
That brings us to slap fighting, a nascent sport still crawling out of the primordial ooze and struggling to stand. Maybe if you get in on the ground floor of that you can run the same playbook White and the Fertittas did when they bought the UFC, with the end result being that you essentially own an entire sport.
And as of right now, that sport has no real established stars, no managers looking out for athletes’ interests, and definitely no legal framework outlining what kind of contracts you can and can’t sign them to. It’s wide open. A small investment now could pay off with huge profits later – and that’s the only kind of profits worth the trouble for these guys.
Who wants to go through the headache of starting a new business and reaching all the way into your pocket for the state athletic commission that you keep in there, only to end up with a reasonable split of the revenue in the end? Ain’t even worth it, especially when you’re already super wealthy.
Question #3: Which reminds me, how much money is enough money anyway?
This is one of those questions that, solely by asking it, I accidentally reveal why I’ll never be among the super rich. Because if I were White, a man whose net worth is in the hundreds of millions with more coming in all the time, I don’t think I’d be looking around for new business opportunities. I think I might look at the house I built after buying and then knocking down all my neighbors’ houses and figure that I was pretty set on the whole money thing. But I suppose that’s just me, a person who is not motivated by bottomless greed.
What’s really telling is how genuinely excited White seems about this whole venture. When he announced it on Instagram last week, he sounded more enthusiastic about it than he has about any UFC event in years. Here we are, the week of UFC 280, a fight card that MMA fans have had circled on the calendar, and he’s got people home in Vegas explaining to the commission why they need to approve this slap fighting LLC or else risk leaving it all up to some sports bar amateurs.
Again, there’s no way I believe he’s so excited about slap fighting on its merits. Know how I know that? Because it’s so fucking stupid. This is not a sport you get into just for the joy of being around it. It is only the sport of the future in that it is so incredibly, irredeemably dumb, which sadly tracks pretty well with our current overall cultural trajectory.
This is purely about money, lots of it, flowing in through a great spigot. And the people who hope to be on the receiving end are already monstrously rich.
So what are they thinking? That’s the part that gets me. People like White and the Fertittas, is there anything – a single fucking thing – that they want right now but cannot currently afford? Do they really think the slap fighting dollars will be the dollars that finally bring true bliss? Or is it just that, you get used to chasing money at all costs your whole life, and pretty soon you don’t know any other way to live?
I don’t know. I really don’t. But I hope, as they’re watching a couple strip club bouncers slap each other while wearing official Dana White’s Power Slap League T-shirts (that may or may not say Zuffa Boxing on the inside), they at least finally think to ask themselves the question.
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