LAS VEGAS — “How in the hell is this a sport?”
It’s become the question when talking about Dana White’s Power Slap league.
“They said the same thing about the UFC, this isn’t a sport – this is fucking human cockfighting. This is fucking brutality at its fucking worst,” White said during a conversation with The Sporting Tribune. “I heard all this shit already. I’ve already been through this.”
And as he did in helping to build UFC into one of the most recognizable sports brands in the world, he’s giving everything he’s got into a phenomenon that may have thousands baffled by its existence, but has triple that in supporters.
“This isn’t my first rodeo with this shit,” White added. “And let me tell you when the mainstream fucking hates it. You got a winner. You got a fucking winner.”
It’s Fight Week in Las Vegas, and the prelude to UFC 290 at T-Mobile Arena on Saturday is Power Slap 3 on Friday, at the UFC Apex.
It’s an event highlighted by one of the sport’s most popular striker, former heavyweight champion Ron “Wolverine” Bata challenging light heavyweight champion AyJay Hintz.
The rest of the card consists of strikers from Power Slap: Road To The Title and rising names from the undercards of Power Slap 1 and Power Slap 2.
The most appealing match is the co-main event between “Da Crazy Hawaiian” Koa Viernes facing Micah “Unko” Seiuli.
Gauging from the first two events, the Apex should be packed and energized for a third straight time.
The live stream on Rumble should be just as enthusiastic.
During Power Slap 2, sweepstakes offered to fans during the broadcast drew 115,000 registrations. Per White, the biggest one ever known with UFC was 200,000. Not too shabby when you compare 289 events to just two.
“For all the people that hate it, I get it – you don’t like it, whatever,” White said. “There are eight and a half billion people in the world. There are a lot of people who do like it, so it doesn’t matter.
“This is invite-only, I bring in whoever I want in here. And it’s just a fun night out, it’s a fun experience.”
Just ask Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Maxx Crosby, who’s attended the invite-only events.
“Obviously, Dana’s a good friend of mine but yeah, it’s super entertaining,” Crosby said. “Just being here feeling the energy in the building, it’s a ton of fun and it’s definitely entertaining for sure.”
So entertaining that during White’s sit down with The Sporting Tribune, a member of the Power Slap’s PR team informed him that moments after putting up a video between striker “Slap For Cash” and “Da Hawaiian Hitman,” it hit one million views.
“That’s what it is,” White responded. “That’s when this shit is fun because it’s fun to talk about. It’s fun to talk about positively, it’s fun to talk about negatively. When you have a problem, is when nobody gives a shit one way or the other.”
White said he’s having fun proving naysayers wrong about Power Slap, he’s also enjoying building something new from scratch, even if that means having to tweak things after each event.
While he said UFC is a well-oiled, dialed-in machine, it also took 23 years of intense passion to become what it is today. Sure, there are challenges his team faces weekly, but it doesn’t have anything to do with live events, such as Saturday’s UFC 290.
With Power Slap, it’s making an attempt at controlling the uncontrollable once the lights and camera turn on, and millions are tuned in to see strikers line up against one another for three rounds of precise slapping to the side of one another’s face.
“I’m having fun right now, this is fun for me,” White said. “I don’t need the fucking money. I don’t do shit for money. I didn’t do shit for money when I was broke. I did shit because I liked it and it’s what I’m passionate about what I like to do. This is what I love to do.
“I like to build things, I like to create brands – especially, I like to build things that people say can’t be built. That’s all in building a new sport, building a new business, anything you get into. That’s what we’ve done over the last 23 years here at the UFC. And we’ll figure it out here too. We go back into the fucking lab and we make some tweaks and we fix it. We make it better next time and we continue to grow this sport globally.”