Better than UFC, even with its shortcomings.
Now, with that out of the way i'll get to the review. Even though I think this game beats UFC I still think there's a lot of room for improvement. I'll start by going through some of the shortcomings of the game.
Commentary needs to be reworked in a serious way. Throughout the game the commentary is consistently wrong. The commentators basically just seem to say completely random things during the fight. Not a huge deal in the grand scheme of things but they definitely need to tweek/polish this in the next installment.
Clearly a huge drawback is the fact they don't have the UFC licensed fighters that we all know and love. Despite the lack of UFC guys I do believe they did a good job filling out the fighter rosters. Also it seems they couldn't get any deals with any clothing or gear company's like tapout, hyabusa, etc...
Career mode is well done but the customization options need some more depth in my opinion. The ability to move and resize tattoos, add scars, etc would be nice. Photo Game face, although a great feature, needs some work on generating better quality results.
When fighting online I would love to see an option to be able to select CAF vs CAF. It gets lame fighting "Classic Bas" almost every fight...Common people use your created fighters!
Gameplay is so much better than UFC. The mechanics are so much more fluid and realistic. I love total punch control (like the fight night series) , and for you guys that don't like it you can always switch back to classic controls if your into that.
Ground game: I honestly thought the ground game was going to be lame with the button system they have, but it honestly brings a good rhythm. The ground game and submissions are all about timing and proper stamina control which adds to realism.
Career Mode: So they have cool features where you work your way up from different leagues from around the world. Also training is done in camps which specialize in certain areas. I really like the training systems they have in place but I would have liked to see more locations/camps to choose from.
Online: I'm having a great time online and fights are for the most part really fun. They did an amazing job to eliminate cheap or exploitive mechanics in the game. You can't just go out and spam jab or head kick and get away with it. You'll also rarely be completely helpless in any situation. Your opponent might have an edge in one area of the game but i've yet to be in a situation where I feel completely helpless.
So to sum up I think the gameplay in ea's mma is hands down better... so much so you can't even really put ea's mma and UFC in the same class. that being said I still think it sucks not having the UFC guys in the game. At some point UFC is gonna have to come around and sign on with ea.
EA did a really good job with this game for a first release, but they definitely need to expand in following releases.
Bottom Line: Hugely underrated game that's definitely worth checking out if your an mma fan.