New Mexico resident featured on 'Power Slap' TV series - Albuquerque Journal

New Mexico resident featured on ‘Power Slap’ TV series

For the time being, Robert Trujillo is happy to slap and be slapped.

But when he signed on to participate in UFC President Dana White’s “Power Slap: The Road to the Title” slap-fighting TV series on TBS, it was not a hand across the face but a foot in the door he was seeking.

The 30-year-old Raton native is an MMA fighter first, a slap fighter second.

Raton’s Robert Trujillo is shown during the Power Slap event at UFC Apex on December 14, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Sciaffo LLC)

“I’m thinking, ‘Hey, if I do this, this might be a big opportunity to go meet Dana White and show my power and maybe open some doors for the MMA side for me,” Trujillo said.

“… That’s ultimately why I want to follow my dream in (slap fighting) – my MMA career.”

Trujillo, who still lives in Raton, grew up as boxer, then began competing in MMA as an amateur in 2013. After compiling an 11-2 amateur record, he turned pro in May 2019 and has a 5-0 record while competing on regionally promoted shows.

Maybe it was his boxing background; maybe it was the power he’s displayed in MMA, though Trujillo is a well-rounded fighter who has more victories by submission than by KO/TKO. But when he received a message from a Power Slap producer inviting him to audition for the show, he said yes. Then, so did the UFC.

The Power Slap series is patterned after the UFC’s wildly successful The Ultimate Fighter anthologies, in which fighters are housed together and sequestered from the outside world in Las Vegas, Nevada while training and competing.

“It was definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” Trujillo, the father of son Carter, just turned 9, and daughter Liliana, 20 months. “I (initially) didn’t know what to think. … It was tough mentally, for sure.”

As often has happened on The Ultimate Fighter, the Power Slap contestants weren’t always on their best behavior.

“(Getting drunk) happened to be one of the main things to do in the house,” Trujillo said. “…. I don’t drink, so that was kind of a hard part for me, just being around it all the time.

‘But getting through it and looking back on it … it was definitely something I know I needed to experience, and I enjoyed it.”

So, then. What is slap fighting? Pretty much what the name suggests.

Two contests stand opposite each other, separated by a narrow, waist-high table.

While the unfortunate loser of a coin toss stands stock still, not permitted to flinch, duck or roll with the blow, the winner of the toss winds up and slaps the opponent with every ounce of force he or she can muster.

If the “slappee” is able to continue, the positions are reversed. If both contestants weather the blows through three brain-rattling slaps, the contest goes to the judges.

Reaction to this new sport, if that’s what it is, has been mixed at best – even from the combat-sports community.

“That’s not sport – shame on (the Nevada State Athletic Commission) for sanctioning this,” said MMA journalist Ariel Helwani, as quoted by the New Yorker.

Said unbeaten boxer Ryan Garcia in the same New Yorker story, “Power slap is a horrible idea and needs to be stopped.”

Trujillo, though, sees slap fighting as carving out a niche with young fans.

“The kids love it,” he said. “… I feel like the fan side of it is fine.

“If they keep finding who’s brave enough to do it, it’s gonna grow a lot.”

Trujillo said he is and will continue to be an MMA fighter first. Yet, he already has accepted a slap fight on a Power Slap pay-per-view event in March.

Again, the goal is to get Dana White’s attention.

“I didn’t want to be the guy who told the UFC ‘no,'” he said.

Through four episodes, Trujillo has not appeared as a fighter or been profiled, as has been customary on both The Ultimate Fighter and Power Slap. Though he has competed, he’s not allowed to discuss the outcome before his fight airs.

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