Sonny Bill Williams hits out over UFC boss Dana White's divisive new move

The UFC president's new combat sports initiative has sparked backlash, with the All Blacks great the latest to weigh in.

New Zealand sporting icon Sonny Bill Williams is not a fan of UFC president Dana White's new combat sport, Power Slap. Pic: Getty
New Zealand sporting icon Sonny Bill Williams is not a fan of UFC president Dana White's new combat sport, Power Slap. Pic: Getty

UFC president Dana White calls it the "ultimate test of toughness". But other leading names in the fight game have labelled new combat sport Power Slap – where a competitor slaps an unprotected opponent across the face with an open hand – barbaric, dangerous and idiotic in an era where concerns over brain injuries and concussion are front and centre of all contact sports.

Dual rugby international and boxer Sonny Bill Williams is the latest to voice his disapproval, saying Power Slap "is a big NO for me". SBW asked on Twitter: "(What do) rugby & league fans think about this? Would you let your children compete in it?"

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Australian boxer Billy Dib responded: "This is not sport, this is stupidity. UFC bantamweight star Sean O'Malley is another non-believer.

"I cannot watch it. I don’t know if it’s I can’t watch it because I understand what concussions are. I understand - I’ve been through them. I know how bad it is to do that to your brain."

New combat sport Power Slap divides opinion

Power Slap features two fighters facing each other, with a coin toss deciding who delivers the first slap. The attacker has to use an open hand slap between the eyeline and jaw, with the defender standing with hands behind their back unable to flinch, raise or tuck their shoulder.

The goal is to knock your opponent out within three strikes or the bout is decided on points using MMA and boxing scoring systems. Produced in conjunction with the UFC, the new pay-per-view sport boasts: "Power Slap will feature competitors from across the globe competing on the ultimate stage to showcase their power, technique and resolve."

White, not surprisingly, has defended the sport against criticism it is too brutal. "In Slap, they take three-to-five slaps per event," he pointed out.

Seen here, UFC president Dana White addressing media at a press conference.
UFC president Dana White has hit back at criticism of his new Power Slap initiative. Pic: Getty (Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

"Fighters in boxing take 300-400 punches per fight. And guess what? My answer to that is if you don't f***ing like it, don't watch it!

"Nobody's asking you to watch this. Oh, you're disgusted by it? Watch The Voice. I saw some footage of slap fighting on social media and I was instantly hooked.

"From the first day I saw it, I felt like this could be big. I knew what needed to be done to make it a real sport just like we did with MMA. Power Slap is built for the modern sports fan. It's the ultimate test of toughness."

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