Now that the secret’s out about Zuffa banning any fighters from fighting in the UFC if they sign with EA Sports, Dana isn’t shying away from the controversial course of action they’ve decided to take. And neither is Lorenzo Fertitta for that matter.
In fact, much like the UFC’s competition in the combat arena, Dana has declared war on the video game publishing juggernaut.
“EA Sports told us, ‘You’re not a real sport. 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. 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. You told us you’d 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, that got over that real quick, didn’t they?…I’m not tap-dancing around this thing or whatever. I’m telling you straight-up, I’m at war with them right now. That’s how I look at it…You won’t be in the UFC,”
Lorenzo’s comments at a UFC Q&A session were similar but predictably much less abrasive.
“There is no such thing as banned, but this is something that does get under my skin and Dana’s skin because when we had the opportunity to go out and build a video game who do you think the first people we called was? EA Sports… We sat in the room with them and I would have cut a worse deal just to be with EA Sports. I wanted them so bad. They looked at them and they told us they didn’t think MMA was a sport. This was three years ago. They said the UFC was irrelevant and that we were wasting their time. So we went down the street and did a deal with THQ and they thought MMA was a sport. So we stick with the guys who stick with us. Now the UFC video game has been a massive success with three million copies sold. And guess what EA wants to do? They want to do an MMA game now… If you are young fighter coming up, it just makes sense to stay under the umbrella of UFC companies, sponsors and marketing to ensure yourself a cut of the action for the rest of your life.“
Now, who knows if EA did in fact tell the UFC to take a hike or not, they may very well have, but as MMAPayout points out, developing their own MMA game wasn’t something EA all of a sudden decided to do just because they sold a few million copies of UFC 2009 Undisputed in the first few weeks of its release. They’ve at the very least been planning it for well over a year. In fact, I wrote a post about them being in talks with Randy Couture to appear in the game back on May 13, 2008.
No, it doesn’t really matter, but it’s just another example of Zuffa bending the truth to spin an ugly situation in their favor. And quite frankly, it’s starting to get old especially when the majority of people listening don’t know any better.
By the way, as you’ve probably noticed, Randy Couture has been the exception, and here’s why in his words.
“I struck a deal with EA during my hiatus with the UFC. And it was an exclusive deal, so it was a point of contention when I came back to the UFC. Obviously, they wanted me to be in their game, and I had already done an exclusive deal with EA that, frankly, was a lot better deal for me. The ancillary rights are something I’ve been fighting for almost since Zuffa bought the company. It’s a major point of contention between us for a long time, so this was no different. Part of the negotiations in coming back to the UFC was that EA deal, and being allowed to do that.
“It was an exclusive deal with EA, and there wasn’t any room to negotiate. We negotiated a little bit for a while to maybe not do the exclusive deal, or lighten up the exclusive deal, EA was willing to work with the UFC and let me do their game, but they were going to have to make up the difference in compensation that I was getting from being exclusive with EA. That’s where things broke down. Then they obviously set a precedence: if they’re giving me compensation, and none of the other athletes are getting compensation, that creates a whole other issue, and a lot of problems for them. Ideally, they would have liked to have had me in their game, but it just didn’t work out.”