Strongmen were pictured brutally slapping each other in front of a mocking crowd as the goofy competition dreamed up by UFC supremo Dana White headed to Las Vegas.
Ron ‘The Wolverine’ Bata and Damien ‘The Bell’ Dibbell took turns punching each other in the face in a furious five-round bout at UFC Apex for Power Slap 2 on Wednesday.
The Bell defeated Ron ‘Wolverine’ Bata in the heavyweight division of the slap fight contest.
For the event, a toss decides who goes first, then they have one minute to bare-knuckle their opponent.
The slapped contestant then has one minute to recover and get back into position – and if both are still standing after three rounds, a judge chooses a winner.
The event also featured fights between Ayjay ‘Static’ Hintz and Russell ‘Kainoa’ Rivero, as well as between super heavyweights Adam Hutchinson and Dayne ‘Da Hawaiian Hitman’ Viernes.
Pictured: Damien ‘The Bell’ Dibbell
Pictured: Wesley ‘All the Smoke’ Drain slaps John ‘The Machine’
Power Slap is billed as the world’s premier slap fighting organization, with the niche sport attracting competitors from around the world.
The latest clashes in Las Vegas follow UFC President Dana White’s decision to bring the fighting league back to slap for a second season, with its first 800-pound clash between Viernes and Hutchinson. The pair weighed in at a combined 59 stone, with Hutchinson even munching on a chocolate bar as he stepped on the scale.
White’s controversial Power Slap league has drawn criticism from fight fans and non-fans alike, and is now being condemned by a leading neuroscientist.
Chris Nowinski, PhD from Harvard. and former wrestler who has criticized the sports world’s handling of concussions, took issue with a recent clip in which a fighter, Chris Kennedy, appeared to show immediate signs of a significant head injury, known as posturing of fencing.
“It’s so sad,” tweeted Nowinski, co-founder and president of the Concussion Legacy Foundation. ‘Note the fencing stance with the first brain injury. He may never be the same again.
A fencing stance or fencing response involves the victims hands shooting in an unnatural position with their forearms flexed outward.
Pictured: Dayne ‘Da Hawaiian Hitman’ Viernes vs. Slap For Cash
Pictured: Ron ‘The Wolverine’ Bata and Damien ‘The Bell’ Dibbell
Pictured: Adam Hutchinson slaps Dayne ‘Da Hawaiin Hitman’
Pictured: Ayjay ‘Static’ Hintz slaps Russel ‘Kainoa’
Nowinski, who also played college football for Harvard, took aim at White, the promoter, and TBS, which airs the brutal competition.
“@danawhite & @TBSNetwork should be ashamed,” Nowinski added. “Pure exploitation. And then, “Who can survive a stab wound?”
The sport was first popularized three years ago in Eastern Europe with a series of viral videos featuring 370-pound Russian sensation Vasiliy Khamotiskiy.
Known as ‘Dumpling’, Khamotiskiy was seen in a video knocking out a huge opponent to win 30,000 rubles, or about $475 at the time. Other viral videos show Dumpling training by crushing watermelons and flipping tractor tires.
SLAP FIGHT RULES: LEARN MORE
- Two contestants stand on a podium and exchange open palm slaps
- The duel is watched by three judges – two directly observing the fight and one analyzing the replays
- Each competitor must have a mouthguard and hearing protection in place
- There are three rounds per fight – in each of them the participant has a hit
- There must be supporters near the competitor, to prevent him from falling after a slap
- Before shooting, players rub their hands with talcum powder
- The position of the feet must be maintained before, during and after the slap
- It is forbidden to hit the temple, eye socket, nose, ear, larynx
- The judges will make the final and irrevocable decision of the fight
- Competitors can also win by KO, TKO or disqualification
Social media exposure helped make the sport a pay-per-view event, but things turned tragic in October 2021 when a Polish fighter and bodybuilder named Artur ‘Waluś’ Walczak was knocked down four times and suffered a brain hemorrhage at a “Punchdown” event in Wrocław, Poland. The 46-year-old was taken to hospital, placed in a medically induced coma and eventually died in November of multiple organ failure, according to Polish reports.
In the aftermath, Polish authorities have launched an investigation into the safety conditions for competitors at Punchdown 5, while promoters have insisted Walczak’s health remains the top priority following his fourth and final knockdown.
‘The opponent [Walczak] remained conscious, but the concerning neurological symptoms observed by rescuers prompted them to call the ambulance service,” a Punchdown statement read.
Punchdown has since changed its name to Slap Fighting Championship.
Other slap promotions have been around longer than White’s circuit, including the Missouri-based SlapFight.
White, who faced backlash after a video emerged showing him slapping his wife at a New Year’s Eve party in Mexico, defended PowerSlap, insisting health and safety measures are taken seriously.
“We’re spending the money to make sure we have two healthy people and proper medical care during and after the fight,” White said. “Those are all the things we need to educate people about, just like we needed to educate people about mixed martial arts.”
As White told Just The Fights, he thinks slap fights are safer than boxing, where fighters can defend themselves, while being punched hundreds of times during a fight.
Slap fights, on the other hand, usually only involve a few blows per match, although fighters are prohibited from defending themselves.
White said, “In Slap they take three to five slaps per event. Fighters in boxing take 300 to 400 punches per fight. And guess what: you know what my answer to that is? If you don’t like it, don’t watch it.