It is a column by Morgan Campbell, who writes opinion for CBC Sports activities. For extra details about CBC’s Opinion part, please see the FAQ.

The time period “slap preventing” is, in fact, a misnomer.

In an actual combat, each combatants have an equal probability to inflict injury, and to defend themselves towards it. However you may lose considered one of these slap contests — which appear to be in all places currently — on a coin toss. First particular person to ship a blow may knock their opponent unconscious, and by no means must take a shot. 

Or the primary receiver may climate that first impression and proceed competing, however compromised. Stability, depth notion, rhythm and weight switch all thrown off by that preliminary concussive slap. In a extra equitable setup, each rivals would …


What are we even doing? 

Overthinking it, identical to the oldsters making an attempt to promote the new Energy Slap League would love us to. For those who requested me to explain the game because it seems, I might name it artless and harmful. Slap preventing desires to invoice itself as a house run derby for fight sports activities, but it surely seems to be like extra of a beanball contest. The distinction is that no person would ask Mookie Betts to face within the batter’s field and take an Aroldis Chapman fastball to the earhole. We might know it is a prescription for damaged bones and mind trauma.

However with Energy Slap and its friends, if we carry out the correct psychological contortions, we will persuade ourselves it is a reliable sport, and never a lowest-common-denominator spectacle. So, in fact, right here comes Dana White, president of the Final Combating Championship (UFC), and the manager heading up Energy Slap, forward of the promotion’s debut occasion, to decorate the enterprise up as one thing in addition to a spot the place muscled-up powerful guys go to endure concussions.

Downplaying the hazard

In a video clip that rippled by means of social media earlier this week, White and an interviewer focus on how slap contests aren’t truly that harmful.

“They take three to 5 slaps per occasion; fighters in boxing take 300 to 400 punches per combat,” White stated. “No person’s asking you to observe. Oh, you are disgusted by it? Watch The Voice.”

From one other sports activities govt, I might ponder whether that type of spin stemmed from disgrace. You already know you are promoting one thing crude and harmful, so that you current it as nuanced and comparatively secure, simply to move off criticism, and to really feel higher about your product.

Besides we reside in a post-shame period, and White’s presence in entrance of cameras is the newest living proof. On New Yr’s Eve he was captured on digicam in a nightclub in Mexico, slapping his spouse, Anne. Three weeks later he is doing interviews, promoting open-handed strikes as sport.

Energy Slap was a cynical hustle even earlier than that video of White hitting his spouse surfaced, and in the event you suppose this week’s advertising push feels hypocritical, you may have a degree. My kindest evaluation? It is the newest instance of a star blurring the road between advertising and dishonesty, besides …

What line?

If Tom Brady can inform us his sports activities drinks combat concussions and viruses, why cannot his buddy Dana White declare with a straight face that “slap preventing” is each safer and extra nuanced than it seems to be? Who’re you going to consider: Dana White or your mendacity eyes?

Proper right here, I might debunk White’s particular claims, however first let’s give him credit score. 

Over his practically twenty years within the public eye, White has crafted a private model as a straight shooter who favours blue denims, black T-shirts and the occasional F-bomb. When he has an issue with any person — fighter, referee, journalist — he’ll allow them to know, in public or in non-public.

He additionally opens every post-fight information convention by saying the night’s attendance and gate receipts. For those who suppose transparency like that’s frequent, ask the president of your favorite MLB crew how a lot ticket income they gather every night time. Most professional sports activities groups guard that information extra carefully than U.S. presidents do high secret paperwork, however White routinely shares gate income figures to the greenback. 

After the video of White smacking his spouse went public, a number of figures on the intersection of combined martial arts and the mass media used their megaphones to absolve him.

Kevin Iole of Yahoo Sports activities puzzled whether or not White’s workaholism price him his self management.

“For a lot of his grownup life, he is gone close to warp pace to construct the UFC,” Iole wrote. “It is OK to calm down and now not really feel the necessity to push.”

UFC contender Sean O’Malley urged on his podcast that White’s spousal abuse was justified.

“His spouse slapped him,” he stated. “That is impolite, and it deserved a slapping again.”

White, in distinction, made no excuses when he addressed the incident at a information convention in early January. He additionally defined, primarily, that suspending him would solely damage the UFC and its enterprise companions. The one seen blowback was borne by Energy Slap, which noticed its debut occasion pushed again by per week, to Jan. 18.

A seven-day delay, to an aggressive promoter like White, simply offers extra alternative to hype the occasion, even when it means spewing half-truths and falsehoods.

The interviewer within the viral video units White up by noting that Energy Slap members aren’t defenceless, regardless that slap fighters stand with their palms at their sides as their opponent winds up and unloads. Defence, or the shortage of it, distinguishes slap preventing from different fight sports activities.

As for White’s declare that boxers repeatedly soak up 400 punches per bout?

It fails a primary math take a look at.

In line with CompuBox, super-flyweight champion Roman Gonzalez lands extra punches per spherical — 31.4 — than every other world-class fighter. Throughout 12 rounds, he would join 377 instances, nonetheless wanting the 400 landed punches White claims are inside the regular vary for random boxing matches.

We do not know if White was mendacity or simply exaggerating for impact, however we all know he is aware of higher. He is a former novice boxer, and he co-promoted the bout between Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor in 2017. McGregor absorbed 170 punches that night time, and nonetheless took much less seen injury than Sorin Comsa did within the different video clip that coursed by means of social media this week.

One slap brought about half his face to inflate like an air mattress, and blood to trickle from his ear.

A grotesque scene, and an specific ticket to focus on reveals and social media feeds. The kind of free publicity each internet-savvy sports activities outlet chases lately, and the type of viral clip that would spell success for Energy Slap’s debut occasion. 

However organizers like White won’t say as a lot in public.

An excessive amount of like asking individuals to observe, they usually’d by no means do this.

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