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EA Sports UFC 2 cover showcases brutal six months for MMA superstars

EA Sports UFC

MMA can be so cruel.

EA Sports recently picked a cover for its EA Sports UFC 2 video game, and probably figured it was in good hands with Conor McGregor and Ronda Rousey, two UFC champions who dominated their weight classes and rose to combat sports superstardom along the way.


Then the world watched as McGregor surrendered to Nate Diaz at UFC 196, not long after Rousey got mummified by Holly Holm at UFC 193. The timing could not have been worse, as "Rowdy" was in no shape to rebound after her loss to "The Preacher's Daughter," while "Notorious" is just a few days removed from his short night in "Sin City."

EA Sports UFC 2 hits shelves next week with those memories still fresh in our collective consciousness.

It will be hard not to look at the game and immediately think of their stunning, high-profile defeats. I guess we can file that under "Madden Curse," the old superstition that appearing on the cover of EA's football game will result in misfortune for the chosen athlete.

It started out as a joke, but later proved to be chillingly accurate.

I can't help but wonder if the results of UFC 196 will compel the promotion to examine how its promotes "stars" or markets the future of MMA. On its own, last weekend's upset isn't game changing, but it wasn't that long ago when Paige VanZant and Sage Northcutt -- who not coincidentally are both beautiful and well spoken -- were boxed up and shipped out to adoring fans.

Turns out the packaging was more expensive than the gift inside.

The evidence can be found in how thoroughly trounced both "12 Gauge" and "Super" were in their respective submission losses at the UFC Fight Night 80 event last December on the promotion's online digital network. I'm not sure if that makes this criticism better or worse.

It all started out so promising, then...

Jon Jones, meanwhile, is the scariest fighter on the planet, but won't get pedestal'd because he can't seem to keep himself out of trouble. Elsewhere in the line up, Demetrious Johnson has what could be the most complete set of skills -- and the record to back it up -- but can't draw flies because MMA fans hate short people.

I guess that's what happens when your target demographic is a bunch of drunk dummies.

But before you shed any tears for EA Sports, think about what a great year Reebok is having. Aside from getting trashed by fans on Twitter, the sneaker and apparel giant went and signed individual, exclusive contracts with a handful of top stars in 2015.

They include:

--Jon Jones (stripped of his title and suspended for hit-and-run)
--Chris Weidman (smashed by Luke Rockhold)
--Anthony Pettis (dominated by Rafael dos Anjos)
--Sage Northcutt (choked out by Brian Barberena)
--Ronda Rousey (starched by Holly Holm)
--Paige VanZant (strangled by Rose Namajunas)
--Conor McGregor (tapped by Nate Diaz)

Money well spent!

That's the biggest challenge companies face when investing in fighters. In other sports, like basketball and baseball, an athlete can stink up the joint for a week, then have a breakout game and be right back on top. Most fighters only compete three times each year.

A loss gets carried around for several months.

I guess the only way to get through that is to place less emphasis on defeat, which can be hard when some fighters live or die by the goofy rankings, which seem to change from week-to-week with no rhyme or reason. In addition, UFC will hand out pink slips when it comes time to thin the herd.

After all, there is only so much money to go around.

It would be great if fighters could supplement their incomes with outside sponsorships, instead of hoping to be one of the select few handpicked by Reebok, or other organizations in bed with the higher ups. Too bad something like that doesn't exist in MMA.

Oh wait...

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