TBS is sticking with Dana White’s slap-fighting league in the wake of a domestic violence incident with his wife on New Year’s Eve – at least for now.
Power Slap, the UFC-backed entity partially owned by the UFC president, was set to premiere next Wednesday, Jan. 11 on TBS. However, the debut is being pushed back a week to Jan. 18, a UFC official told broadcast partner ESPN.
The New York Post reported that TBS has had “serious discussions” about pulling the plug, which TBS spokesperson Jori Arancio confirmed to the newspaper. No final decision has been made.
Speculation about the status of Power Slap on TBS began Thursday when people noticed it was no longer listed on the programming schedule in the 10 p.m. time slot it originally occupied Jan. 11. Power Slap was also missing from the Jan. 18 schedule.
Power Slap and TBS reached a broadcasting agreement for eight 1-hour episodes, which White announced in November. While no official announcement has been made, reporter Jeremy Botter revealed earlier Thursday on Twitter that a Warner Media source said “basically just paperwork” needed to be finalized to end the deal.
Back in October, the Nevada Athletic Commission voted to regulate slap fighting – in which defenseless competitors strike each other with open-hand slaps from across a podium – at the urging of UFC chief business officer Hunter Campbell during a monthly meeting.
Slap fighting has been around for years, though it’s been more prevalent in Eastern Europe. In November, White attempted to quell concerns about brain injuries while touting Power Slap’s potential to catch on in the U.S.
“A lot of these questions that you guys have, the media, fans, potential fans have, will be answered in this eight-part series that we’re doing. These guys who have been doing it for a long time, there actually is technique to it. You can actually roll with the slap. They know how to actually defend, brace, whatever you want to call it. There’s actually technique to this thing – believe it or not.”
He continued, “Look at the numbers this stuff pulls. It’s perfect for social media. You couldn’t have a more perfect product for social media. We believe it will be strong on television, too.”
Questions about Power Slap on TBS have been raised in the wake of White being caught on video slapping his wife, Anne, at a nightclub this past weekend in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. Footage released by TMZ showed the couple in a dispute. At one point, White grabbed his wife by the wrist as she turned away, which prompted her to slap him in the face. White retaliated with two slaps, and shoved her to the ground.
White said he was “embarrassed” by the situation in an interview with TMZ, adding that he and his wife apologized to each other.
“I’m one of the guys, you heard me say for years: There’s never, ever an excuse for a guy to put his hands on a woman,” White said. “And now here I am on TMZ talking about it. My wife and I have been married for almost 30 years. We’ve known each other since we were almost 12 years old. We’ve obviously been through some sh*t together and we’ve got three kids, and this is one of those situations that’s horrible.”
As of this writing, neither the UFC nor Endeavor, which owns the UFC, has commented publicly on White’s actions. The UFC declined when reached by MMA Junkie.