Jul 15, 2009 at 01:48 PM
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UFC Goes to "War" with Electronic Arts

First, MMA superstar Brock Lesnar buries a title sponsor and now UFC's going to war with their own advertiser! What's next?!

On the heels of arguably the most successful event in MMA history, UFC President Dana White isn't just confirming a rumor that they'll ban fighters for being a part of EA's new game, he's going a step further and declaring outright "war" against the video-game maker.

"I'm not tap-dancing around this thing or whatever," White said. "I'm telling you straight-up, I'm at war with them right now. That's how I look at it. [EA] told us [they] would never be in business with us. They wouldn't even take a meeting because mixed martial arts disgusted them. This wasn't a real sport. Boy, they got over that real quick, didn't they?"

Of course, this isn't the end of the story. Just last month, EA was a lead advertiser (on mat and television) at UFC's event, TUF 9 Finale (the Ultimate Fighter) - an event that followed EA's announced entry into MMA by a couple of weeks. The ads were for Fight Night (a boxing title), but this still seems strangely out of character, given the verbal cross fire the two companies are engaging in now. Then again, sports, broadcast and sponsorship interests often weave a tangled web of alliances and competitors - and UFC wouldn't be the first example of this by a long stretch. Spike TV, who carried the fights, may have also had a strong say on the issue. Nevertheless, what did THQ think about all of this? If we didn't know better, we might think UFC was playing the field (just in case), which wouldn't be that far of a stretch considering some analysts at the time were pegging THQ's future existence at 50-50 odds.

However, things are looking better now and UFC 2009: Undisputed has started to rack up some impressive sales. According to NPD, UFC 2009: Undisputed sold over 1,000,000 units in its first month.

The tone now has turned decidedly more harsh. EA Sports told us, "'You're not a real sport,'" White said. "'We wouldn't touch this thing. We want nothing to do with this.'"

"We put our asses on the line, THQ and the UFC, to make a video-game deal in the worst economy in the world," White said. "We go out there and do this thing, and it's successful, and now [expletive] EA Sports wants to do a video game. Really? That's not what you told us a year-and-a-half ago."

From EA's blog, a response (of sorts):

"I know there has been some recent discussion about EA SPORTS bringing a challenger to this sport. I love mixed martial arts, and we’ve been working on a game concept since I came to EA two years ago. I have great respect for the organizations and individuals that have invested in the sport’s growth over the past decade – so this is one that is near and dear to me and I’m excited to see such good progress to date. I trace my MMA video game roots back to my support of Crave’s UFC title on the Dreamcast in 2000, and have been a fan ever since. Our title will bring both innovation and further authenticity to mixed martial arts, not to mention a strong global publishing network that will help spread the sport’s popularity around the world."

EA isn't known for letting opportunities pass it by and everyone had to have known that they would find a way to get into the skyrocketing sport of MMA (with or without UFC's license). Afterall, there are a lot of companies trying to tail UFC's success. White makes a strong case. Does UFC have a right to be upset? Absolutely. Especially if they just found out about the title, along with the rest of the world in this release and without much available recourse for TUF 9. However, given UFC's tight lid on all things MMA one would have to believe they've had knowledge about the EA title for some time now.

What's your take on the EA-THQ-UFC love/hate triangle? Do you think we will ever see a UFC-licensed EA title?

sources: MMAJunkie, EA Sports Blog