Top two slap fight leagues partner to form ‘World Slap Fighting Alliance’
In a combat sports realm where the various pies are fractured between a cornucopia of promotions, the American and European powerhouses of professional slap fighting are bucking industry trends by partnering to chart a new course of shared success in their young sport.
Slap fighting forms like voltron
United States-based promotion SlapFIGHT Championship and Polish organization PunchDown have agreed to a formal alliance. This union of the premier slap-fighting leagues in the world will officially be dubbed the World Slap Fighting Alliance. In an exclusive interview, SlapFIGHT Championship CEO JT Tilley explained the unique partnership as two organizations choosing to actually work together under the shared belief that their entire industry would benefit from a true coalition.
“They are the European place to go for slap fighting and I’ve always been a huge fan. Unbeknownst to me, they were a huge fan of SlapFIGHT, and we connected a month back and started having some conversations,” Tilley told MixedMartialArts.com. “And here in the last couple of weeks, we have finally finished putting together the ‘World Slap Fighting Alliance.’ Which is an alliance between the two largest slap-fighting leagues in the world. Instead of working against each other, we’re going to work together to build this sport, and hopefully usher it into 2022 as a mainstream sport.”
Breaking a bad combat sports tradition
Combat sports fans expect major promotions like the Ultimate Fighting Championship and Bellator, or Matchroom Boxing and Golden Boy Promotions to be enemies and not allies. For as long as industries based around combat sports have existed, competition and rivalries were the name of the game. On occasion, we have seen a one-off co-promotion, but actually cooperating for the betterment of the sport? It’s natural to have a pessimistic stance on such an unusual situation like this. Tilley, a veteran MMA promoter, has already encountered doubters, but he has no concerns about his new partners.
“Somebody asked me today ‘how do you feel about [Punchdown]? Do you worry they’re going to take what your building?’ No, not at all. I feel like they’re going to take what we’re building here ten times as strong. And that’s what we want to be, the superpowers of slap.”
There are reasons why Tilley has developed a fast trust with his Polish contemporaries Jakub Henke and Patryk Dzieciol. The steps to shared prosperity have been shockingly easy so far. For example, despite Punchdown’s top star Dawid ”Zaleś” Zalewski winning a FITE TV broadcasted tournament in March, that dubbed him the world champion of slap fighting, the organization has agreed to now call him the European champion. While SlapFIGHT Championship’s titleholders in several weight classes will be called American champions. The goal is to eventually come together for an event that would pit the best in the world against each other and declare an official world champion under the newly formed alliance.
“Until we can put them in real-world title fights, we’re not going to consider that there’s a world champion,” Tilley says. “Maybe [bouts won’t happen] in the immediate future, but as soon as we’re available to travel and make these matches happen; we’ve already talked about several of them and we already know exactly what the plan is, and let me tell you, it’s going to be fantastic.”
Ranking up with a unified mission
The two leagues have also coordinated on a shared mission statement that reads like a slap-fighting constitution. One by-law talks refining the various rules and regulations used around the industry into one unified set. Another explains the goal of creating an international dictionary to further educate current and new fans on the sport itself. In addition, no sport can endure without the constant development of new talent. The duo of slap-fighting organizations will also launch a “recruiting division aimed at acquiring new players for all members of the Alliance from different parts of the world in various weight classes.”
Yet, as important as those various alliance tenets are in taking the sport to new heights, a core element of this pact is to support and promote the other’s brand in their own territories.
“The thing I’m most excited about, is we have every intention of supporting each other. For example, for Punchdown 5, we will assist in the streaming, and we will introduce that stream to our fans, so that American fans have the opportunity to understand and appreciate what they do in Eastern Europe.,” said Tilley. “At the same time, Punchdown has their own streaming platform and what they’ll do is stream our events as well. So each of our fan bases will have an opportunity to discover the other league.”
Slap fight fan service
Combined, the two promotions have over 140,000 YouTube subscribers and have had their content viewed millions of times. It’s a passionate audience that is as much a reason for this alliance as growth and financial gain. Fans have long wanted to see elite American fighters like “Darius the Destroyer” and “Wolverine” do battle with European greats like “Zales” and “The Dumpling.” Catering to their fans is a priority and it’s why there will soon be a World Slap Fighting Alliance-specific website and social accounts. There, fans will be a part of the process and have the chance to vote on future matchups and the brand new 12-man alliance world rankings. Which currently feature the aforementioned “Zales,” “Wolverine,” and “The Dumpling” in the top three spots.
“With our promotion, we routinely communicate with [fans] on [YouTube] comment feeds, on social media, and I would say that 25% of the messages received are people asking us to rank our fighters. What difference does it make to rank the American fighters [only]? They want to see worldwide rankings. So we sat down and all voted. It’s difficult because I’m the American promoter. Obviously, I’m going to be biased towards the athletes that are in our promotion, and they’re the same way. There’s an equal amount of Americans and Europeans on the board, and I want you to know we all came up with the same top-five. Not a single person had a different understanding of what that top-five should be.”
Extending the slap fingers reach abroad
Further international expansion of the sport, and for SlapFIGHT Championship itself is also within grasp. On May 1, the American league’s content will be aired in 30-minute episodes, twice a month, on Fox Sports in the Philippines, Thailand, China, Indonesia, and Singapore. There are also already wheels in motion for SlapFIGHT Championship branded leagues in other parts of the world.
“The world is learning about slap fighting. South Africa is still in the works, Australia’s still in the works, now SlapFIGHT Britain [is coming]. Hopefully, some of those leagues will be successful enough so that we can add them to the alliance eventually, and maybe they’ll find some champions as well. At the end of the day, we just want to find success for the sport.”
This new World Slap Fighting Alliance is a bold step for this neophyte sport, but it is one Tilley strongly believes will take slap-fighting to bold new heights.
“I think two years from now, this will be a sport people give respect,” he says.Join the discussion on this topic...