EA Sports MMA: The Fate of Fedor

One of the biggest unanswered questions swirling around mixed martial arts games these days has been the fate of heavyweight phenom Fedor Emelianenko. Tapped by some as the greatest fighter alive, Fedor has so far avoided fighting in MMA's most successful organization UFC, though it's a well-known...

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One of the biggest unanswered questions swirling around mixed martial arts games these days has been the fate of heavyweight phenom Fedor Emelianenko. Tapped by some as the greatest fighter alive, Fedor has so far avoided fighting in MMA's most successful organization UFC, though it's a well-known fact that the UFC and its company head Dana White have been pursuing Fedor, trying to get him on the roster so that he can face UFC's current heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar.

Today, the Fedor story just added a brand new chapter, as EA Sports announced that Emelianenko has been signed to headline EA's upcoming EA Sports MMA. There's little doubt that Fedor is one of the biggest names in the business and this signing signals a clear victory for EA Sports.

Or does it?

Yesterday, the Los Angeles Times reported a rumor that Dana White and Fedor were close to signing a deal that would bring Fedor to the UFC, thus paving the way for what would surely be an immensely popular heavyweight pay-per-view fight pitting Fedor against Lesnar. Now that EA has gone and signed Fedor, it could be that the rumored UFC deal was just that--a rumor--or that the deal died when Fedor signed with EA. Dana White has reportedly made it clear that UFC fighters who leave his organization and are signed by EA Sports would be banned from future UFC deals. That said, exceptions are possible--as was recently the case with UFC legend Randy Couture. There's little doubt that Fedor is a fighter of high enough caliber to warrant a similar exception.

A possible outcome from this entire rigmarole could be Emelianenko appearing in both EA Sports MMA and THQ's next UFC game. The EA Sports press announcement makes no mention of an exclusive deal with Emelianenko, after all. If Fedor does end up signing with UFC, it's plausible that we could be playing two versions of of the Russian badass--one in EA Sports MMA and the other in the next UFC Undisputed game.

Of course it's going to take more than Fedor--exclusive or not--to make EA Sports MMA an attractive buy for MMA fans. I had never heard of the other two fighters announced in today's release--Gegard Mousasi from the Dream promotion, and Renato Sobral from StrikeForce--and I suspect I'm not alone there. Still, rosters are a huge deal in MMA games and with some big unsigned names out there--like former WWE wrestler Bobby Lashley--as well as possible future UFC defections--such as Anderson Silva, who says he wants to focus on his boxing career, it's clear we can expect this sort of roster preening to continue for months to come.

[UPDATE: Reports from Wedensday and Thursday have said that Fedor has turned down the UFC's offer (which reportedly was as much as a six-fight, $30 million deal). If so, it looks like EA might have Emelianenko exclusivity after all. That said, in the world of MMA, things can change at any time so stay tuned.]

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