EA Sports has landed a heavy right hand in its ongoing, and increasingly hostile, feud with the Ultimate Fighting Championship mixed martial arts league and THQ. With EA Sports announcing its entrance into the MMA genre during this year's Electronic Entertainment Expo, the publisher revealed today that it has signed Fedor Emelianenko to headline EA Sports MMA upon its release for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 in 2010.
Emelianenko is the top-ranked MMA heavyweight in the world as rated by enthusiast site Sherdog.com. The 6-foot, 231-pound Russian specializes in sambo and judo fighting techniques and currently holds a 30-1 record as the WAMMA heavyweight champion.
The Russian heavyweight will be joined by light heavyweights Gegard Mousasi and Renato Sobral, who are poised to throw down in a Strikeforce title fight on August 15. The 6-foot-1-inch and 185-pound Mousasi has melded Dutch kickboxing and judo to achieve a 25-2-1 record. Sobral, who is the current Strikeforce light heavyweight champ, has used grappling and submission techniques to power to a 35-8 record.
Today's announcement thickens the plot surrounding recent statements made by UFC president Dana White. The outspoken White has actively courted Emelianenko to join his organization and is rumored to be close to signing a deal with the fighter, according to a Los Angeles Times report. Earlier this month, though, White stated that the UFC was prepared to dole out lifetime bans to all unsigned fighters who agree to be a part of Electronic Arts' upcoming MMA game.
EA Sports plans to announce more fighters for its MMA debut leading up to the game's release next year. Notably, former UFC heavyweight champion Tim Sylvia told MMA News in June that he and fellow ex-champ Randy Couture had both been signed to appear in EA's game. Couture emerged from retirement last year to sign a new, short-term contract with the UFC.
[UPDATE] It turns out that reports of Emelianenko being on the verge of signing a UFC deal were greatly exaggerated. On August 3, UFC rival Strikeforce announced it had signed a multi-fight deal with the brawny Slav, nicknamed "The Last Emperor." Under the terms of the agreement, Emelianenko will headline world championships in conjunction with M-1 global and appear on Strikeforce specials on the Showtime cable network this fall. (Showtime is owned by GameSpot parent company CBS Corp.)