Ron ‘The Wolverine’ Bata, and Damien ‘The Bell’ Dibbell took turns whacking one another across the face in a furious five-round bout at UFC Apex for Power Slap 2 on Wednesday.
The Bell beat Ron ‘Wolverine’ Bata in the heavyweight division of the slap-fighting contest.
For the event, a coin toss decides who goes first, then they have a minute to deliver an openhanded slap to their opponent.
The slapped competitor then has a minute to recover and get back into position – and if both are still standing after three rounds, a judge picks 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 across the globe.
The latest face-offs in Las Vegas follow UFC president Dana White’s decision to bring the slap fighting league back for a second season, complete with its first 800lb clash between Viernes and Hutchinson. The pair weighed in at a combined 59 stones, with Hutchinson even chomping on a chocolate bar as he stepped on to the scales.
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, a Harvard Ph.D. and former wrestler who has criticized the sports world’s handling of concussions, took issue with one recent clip in which one combatant, Chris Kennedy, appeared to show immediate signs of a significant head injury, known as a fencing posture.
‘This is so sad,’ tweeted Nowinski, the co-founder and president of the Concussion Legacy Foundation. ‘Note the fencing posture with the first brain injury. He may never be the same.’
A fencing posture or fencing response involves victims’ hands shooting into 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. What’s next, ”Who can survive a stabbing?”’
The sport was first popularized three years ago in Eastern Europe with a series of viral videos starring 370-pound Russian sensation Vasiliy Khamotiskiy.
Known as ‘Dumpling,’ Khamotiskiy was seen in one video knocking a massive opponent unconscious to win 30,000 rubles, which was about $475 at the time. Other viral videos show Dumpling training by squashing watermelons and flipping tractor tires.
The social media exposure helped grow the sport into a pay-per-view event, but things turned tragic in October of 2021 when a Polish slap fighter and body builder named Artur ‘Waluś’ Walczak was knocked down four times and suffered a cerebral hemorrhage at a ‘Punchdown’ event in Wrocław, Poland. The 46-year-old was taken to the hospital, placed in a medically induced coma, and ultimately died in November from multi-organ failure, according to Polish reports.
In the aftermath, Polish authorities launched an investigation into the safety conditions for competitors at Punchdown 5, while promoters insisted that Walczak’s health remained highest priority after his fourth and final knockdown.
‘The competitor [Walczak] remained aware, but the disturbing neurological symptoms observed by the rescuers prompted them to call the ambulance service,’ read a statement from Punchdown.
Punchdown has since changed its name to Slap Fighting Championship.
Other slap promotions have been in existence longer than White’s circuit, including the Missouri-based SlapFight.
White, who was facing a backlash after video emerged of him slapping his wife at a New Year’s Eve party in Mexico, has defended PowerSlap, insisting that health and safety measures are taken seriously.
‘We spend the money to make sure we have two healthy people in there and proper medical attention during and after the fight,’ White said. ‘These are all the things we need to educate people on, just like we needed to educate people on mixed martial arts.’
As White told Just The Fights, he believes slap fighting is safer than boxing, where fighters can defend themselves, while being struck hundreds of times in a bout.
Slap fighting, on the other hand, typically involves only a few blows per match, although combatants are prohibited from defending themselves.
White said: ‘In Slap, they take three-to-five slaps per event. Fighters in boxing take 300-400 punches per fight. And guess what: you know what my answer to that is? If you don’t f***ing like it, don’t watch it.’