The future of Dana White’s Power Slap is in question, at least as it pertains to broadcast partner TBS.
In November, White, via the UFC PR team, announced that Power Slap would air on TBS starting in early 2023. Eventually, a January 11 launch date was settled on for the debut of the new slapfighting league, which sees unarmed combatants stand across from each other and fire open-handed slaps at each others face, one at a time.
While the concept is as low-brow as they come, the sport has found an audience on social media, with slapfighting promotions popping up across Europe in recent years. However, in light of White’s domestic violence incident — the UFC President was caught on camera slapping wife Anne White twice after she had slapped him during an argument on New Year’s Eve — the TBS premiere date has been postponed.
Currently, the network has pushed Dana White’s Power Slap back to January 18. However, in a statement to the New York Post, TBS spokesperson Jori Arancio confirmed that the cable outlet had “serious discussions” about pulling the plug altogether.
It remains possible that TBS backs out of the partnership completely. Earlier in the day, veteran journalist Jeremy Botter suggested the “death of the deal” was down to “just paperwork at this point.”
A Warner Media source tells me Dana White’s Power Slap series is no longer listed on any internal programming schedules and all ad spots have been dropped. The death of the deal, I’m told, is basically just paperwork at this point.
— Jeremy Botter (@jeremybotter) January 5, 2023
As previously pointed out in this column, it’s become awfully hard to promote a slapfighting league when the man whose name is plastered all over the promotion has been caught on camera slapping his wife.
The situation was made worse, through no fault of the promotion or White, when Phil Baroni, a former UFC fighter and veteran mixed martial artist, was arrested for murder in Mexico shortly after the White incident. While unrelated, the suggestion by Josh Barnett that Baroni might have been suffering from CTE in recent years puts an ugly spotlight on the idea of undefended blows to the head — which is essentially the basis of Dana White’s Power Slap.
The Nevada Athletic Commission, who, it should be noted, has yet to give a green light to bare-knuckle boxing, is permitting slapfighting to take place under its purview. In opting to regulate the sport, the commission is in new territory, with NSAC Chairman Stephen Cloobeck asking UFC Chief Business Officer Hunter Campbell, a key figure in Dana White’s Power Slap, to “make sure no one dies” during a November commission meeting.
Following news of Power Slap’s delayed arrival, the fledgling slapfighting promotion opted to release a clip from its upcoming season on social media, reflecting the new air date.
Duane Crespo is a retired U.S. Marine who says MMA saved his life. Now the "Iron Giant" is gunning for the Power Slap heavyweight title!
Read about Duane: https://t.co/8WC6YEXQ66
[ Power Slap: Road to the Title | Coming to TBS Jan 18 ] pic.twitter.com/3lduRYllu7
— UFC (@ufc) January 5, 2023