clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

No defense, more brain damage - Doctors speak out against ‘insane’ Dana White’s Power Slap League

Physicians aren’t sold on the safety of a sport that doesn’t allow defense.

UFC president  Dana White is promoting slap fighting
UFC president Dana White is promoting slap fighting
Photo by Amy Kaplan/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

UFC president Dana White would like everyone to believe that slap fighting is a safe sport because he and the team behind Dana White’s Power Slap League ran toward regulation. However, despite White’s best efforts — and a dose of attempted bullying — not everyone is buying what White is selling.

White recently spoke to MMA Fighting about the approval the Nevada State Athletic Commission gave his nascent slap fighting promotion and how regulation will make it safe. While pushing the safety angle, White also took shots at his doubters and detractors.

“The bottom line is, in a boxing match, guys get hit with 300-400 punches in a f—g fight. These guys are going to get hit with three slaps,” White said. “For these morons to be talking all the s—t that they are about the athletic commission, the athletic commission did the right thing. So did we.

“We run right toward regulation, regulate the sport to make sure it’s safe for everybody — because a lot of people are going to get involved in this just like they did MMA,” White argued.

“What you want is you want to make sure there’s clear cut set rules, people have to take the proper medicals before, during, and after the fight to keep the thing safe. It should be regulated and Nevada did the right thing. I applaud them and that’s why they’re the most respected athletic commission in the world.”

No one will say a sport shouldn’t have clear rules, medicals and regulations. However, some will argue that those precautions won’t make a sport that has zero defense, and is based solely on delivering free concussive blows to the head safe.

Neurologist Dr. Nitin Sethi is one of the people who find fault with White. Dr. Sethi spoke to boxing writer Thomas Hauser about his concerns with slap fighting.

“Open-handed slaps delivered with such force to the opponent’s face frequently cause the person’s legs to buckle, at times suffer momentary – sometimes longer – loss of consciousness, and collapse to the floor,” said Dr. Sethi. “These are all concussive injuries of varying duration. The ‘athlete’ who is on the receiving end of the slap has no option available to him to defend himself. These ‘slaps’ will add up. In my professional opinion, those who partake in this ‘sport’ will also suffer the stigmata of chronic neurological injuries.”

“I disagree with the argument that better medical supervision of this ‘sport’ shall make it safer,” Dr. Sethi continued. “I am not sure what a physician is meant to supervise here other than being the overseer of concussive injuries occurring under his or her watch.”

Dr. Sethi was not alone in speaking out against slap fighting. Dr. Michael Schwartz, who in 1997 was part of the team who established the American Association of Professional Ringside Physicians (AAPRP), came down against slap fighting.

“We’ve spent so many years trying to educate commissions and fighters about brain damage,” Dr. Schwartz said. “And now you have this. These guys get hit in the head. You’re inflicting a concussion without allowing the combatant to in any way protect himself. And then he gets hit in the head again. Every concussion is brain damage. The first concussion is damaging. And with second impact syndrome, the second concussion can be life-threatening. It’s insane.”