Ultimate Fighting Championship or the UFC, in short, has accumulated fourteen games under their radar and they have been always a hit or miss situation with it.
UFC games have moved from the arcade brawling to simulation to imitate realistic action that the sport of Mixed Martial Arts can offer, and there is one thing that UFC games are known for and that is they are different from any other fighting games that focus on over-the-top combat matched with silly storytelling in it.
Since then, UFC is producing titles from various game developers, whether passionate or straight-up cash cows and trend riding. Did Dana White also mess up the line-up for UFC games over the past twenty years? Or did he come up with something revolutionary in the world of fighting games just like the state of combat sports today?
Let’s take a deep dive at UFC games ranked from worst to best. Starting at number fourteen…
14. Ultimate Fighting Championship
|Anchor Inc., Fluid Studios, Opus
|August 29, 2000
|Dreamcast, PlayStation, Game Boy
This is the first attempt of the UFC to cash in with the video game success of every sport out there from the NBA, NFL, NHL, to WWE. Every aspect of this game feels so outdated overall. The graphics did not age well, and the gameplay feels so clunky and unoptimized.
The platform they just chose for these games is so limited for what the game can offer as it has a solid star-studded UFC roster, after all, if you are looking for quality over quantity.
It feels like you are playing a button-mashing beat ‘em up on the hardest difficulty mode and once your A.I. opponent grapples you, it’s game over. Up until now, I struggle to wrestle in this game.
The grappling is confusing, and submission mechanics is almost non-existent. You’re better off playing Tekken 3 on your PS1 or Street Fighter on your Dreamcast because Ultimate Fighting Championship won’t offer you a perfect MMA game until they reach the future generation of consoles.
If you want to put yourself into deep trouble, then try this game out. Be prepared to be baffled by the controls. But if you manage to get a hold of the gameplay somehow, beat up Tito Ortiz using Chuck Liddell for me.
13. UFC Throwdown
|Capcom, Genki, Opus
|June 5, 2002
|PlayStation 2, GameCube
Behold, the first-ever UFC game released on the Japanese market. UFC Throwdown or UFC 2: Tapout is released on the 5th of June in 2002 by its developers Capcom, Genki, and Opus and its publishers Crave Entertainment, Ubisoft, and Capcom themselves.
Perhaps this is a failure for Japan since UFC’s rival company Pride Fighting Championship was in a frenzy to be the leading Mixed Martial Arts promotion in Japan during that time period, making UFC the secondary source of MMA in the far east.
And of course, Pride also tried their luck at coming up with an MMA game for the PS2, now that Sony came up with more powerful hardware to produce fresher-looking graphics and a brand-new engine.
But nothing really changed on the gameplay as UFC still has that unpolished striking animations mixed with comical sound effects, making it a turn-off for fans who are hoping to see a more realistic approach to it since they are making a jump to the PlayStation 2.
Maybe Capcom wasn’t satisfied enough with how Street Fighter performs so the elements of the game made it to the UFC.
Again, the shallow but extravagant roster is only the positive side of the game, but I still recommend you to try and play it if you have a PS2 or GameCube lying around. Those legendary consoles need some love, you know.
12. UFC Tapout
|February 17, 2002
I see a pattern here. Xbox has a reputation for having bad exclusive sports games on its platform. The Xbox-only WWE exclusive games didn’t run well, and nor is UFC Tapout. This game was released on February 17, 2002, and is one of the most forgettable UFC games.
These are one of the games that tarnish Xbox’s image as a whole because PlayStation is always one step ahead of them. I know that the console wars are over but come on, most people think that PlayStation is objectively better.
Clunky controls and horrible graphics are the ones that made this game so hard to love. Just when everyone thought this will be a better UFC game, everyone’s hopes were crashed as soon as they boot up and played this game.
But I have to give them props for being the first UFC game to feature Create A Fighter Mode. It wasn’t that polished yet, so wait for the future UFC games to come so you can create the fighter of your dreams.
The original Xbox controller didn’t help for the gameplay, either. It’s just so hard to hold. And it is a fighting game, so good luck playing that.
11. EA Sports UFC
|EA Vancouver, SkyBox Labs
|June 17, 2014
|PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Android, iOS
And now, the worst UFC game of all time under the EA Sports banner has to be their first entry. After the UFC concluded their partnership with THQ on creating their games, they have broken their own promise of not partnering with Electronic Arts by collaborating with them for a more realistic approach to UFC games.
This angered too many, including THQ themselves as they tried to bring it to the court. And this resulted in a broken mess of a UFC and is on par with games that are dead on arrival.
The gameplay is a downgraded version of the UFC Undisputed games made by THQ, and it is filled with bugs and glitches that ruined this already lame excuse of a game.
The striking feels so sloppy, the commentary isn’t accurate, and the grappling system is simplified to the point that you aren’t trying to wrestle anymore. But I’ll give them credit for being the first-ever UFC game to feature female fighters for their Women’s Division.
I cannot even consider this as an MMA game due to how poorly made this is. It just shows that Electronic Arts doesn’t care about their product anymore and their only reason to exist is to milk everyone’s wallets.
10. EA Sports UFC 4
|August 14, 2020
|PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Yet another horrifying addition to the cursed EA Sports UFC franchise, UFC 4 doesn’t offer that much fun for players especially since they have a newer audience and have the chance to step up for the next generation of consoles, but Electronic Arts themselves do not put much effort on these titles and it just makes me want to lose hope in modern gaming.
The striking doesn’t feel good, the grappling system is still a dissatisfying mechanic, and the character models don’t look identical compared to their real-life counterparts.
Not to mention the toxic online community that enjoys spamming and annoying players who are only looking for good matchups. They also added unrealistic game modes such as arenas that look straight out of a B-tier fighting game and a career mode that will make you suffer on the first fight.
Sorry, parents. But I do not recommend your son play this game. I hope you’ll save the money for their tuition instead.
9. UFC Tapout 2
|March 20, 2003
UFC Tapout 2 is yet another Xbox exclusive released on March 20, 2003, by Dream Factory and for some reason, it’s better than its predecessor and that is the first UFC Tapout.
It plays better, the presentation is somehow acceptable for a UFC game made in 2003. The roster is quite lackluster, but the gameplay and graphics are slightly improved.
If you are looking for a classic UFC game that is actually playable and not a complete dumpster fire, then UFC Tapout 2 is a game for you if you don’t mind the old engine and animations. Also, it features a lot of game modes that are mind-blowing from its time.
A good fighting game? Yes, it fits with the criteria. But a UFC game? It is far from that. But do keep in mind that you are playing with a massive controller unless you have the slimmer Xbox controller, but I won’t guarantee you an immersive MMA video game experience with UFC Tapout 2. Just wait till we get to the best ones.
8. UFC Sudden Impact
|April 21, 2004
Yet another UFC game for the PS2 system, UFC Sudden Impact quite delivers. Released on April 21st of 2004, Opus’s final UFC game and the last one to ever come out for the PS2 is what defined this era of MMA games in the sixth generation of consoles.
Despite the main gameplay issues, UFC Sudden Impact has that fun factor that the older UFC games don’t have. Striking feels satisfying even if it isn’t realistic, and the grappling is pretty much toned down for those who are not a huge fan of the mechanic. And somehow, this game is loved by many and it’s one of the better UFC games that isn’t under the THQ label.
The roster is not that deep, but I think any avid UFC gamers out there who lived through the PS2 era will enjoy and appreciate this game. It’s the UFC game that opened the door for future UFC video games of the late 2000s and early 2010s.
7. UFC Personal Trainer
|Heavy Iron Studios, THQ
|June 28, 2011
|PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Wii
UFC Personal Trainer is a motion-based game developed by Heavy Iron Studios and THQ on June 28, 2011, catered toward the pre-teen audiences of the sport. The game is supposed to teach you basic MMA drills by imitating the fundamentals being taught by the in-game trainer on the screen, and it is how they demonstrate Mixed Martial Arts to the player.
The game seems pretty fun, to be honest. It isn’t your usual button-based MMA game as you maneuver according to how fighters perform their moves.
But still, you aren’t going up against the likes of Anderson Silva, Georges St-Pierre, and more. You are just being taught how to do basic MMA training in the form of a video game.
Marc Laimon and/or Greg Jackson not being featured as trainers in the game is such a missed opportunity, to be honest. Or imagine if they added questionable trainers such as Joshua Fabia and Edmund Tarverdyan. You are in for some fun if they are your trainers. And I feel that UFC is making fun of its fan base passively, telling them to try out Mixed Martial Arts in real life.
6. EA Sports UFC 3
|February 2, 2018
|PlayStation 4, Xbox One
The third EA UFC game isn’t that bad, but it sure has some of its downsides either. Putting on Conor McGregor as the cover for this game is already a huge mistake. At least EA attempted to make this game as realistic as possible, despite the quality of these not touching the holy grail of UFC games.
The bad striking animations that EA is known for are quite improved on UFC 3 so it doesn’t look too outlandish, but the grappling is still a mechanic that needs to be overhauled so bad.
Too bad that the servers of this game are now shut down. It’s one of those games that are fun to play online and fight with various players whether they have the skills or not. Spamming is still a problem, but it isn’t that rampant in EA Sports UFC 3, unlike the second and fourth one.
For a UFC game made by EA, this one is surprisingly decent and I will play it over the trashy UFC 4. I just hope that Electronic Arts will leave UFC alone of their unprofessionalism and unpromising work ethic.
5. EA Sports UFC 2
|March 15, 2016
|PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Perhaps the best EA UFC game ever made is none other than EA Sports UFC 2. Released on March 15, 2016, the peak era of the modern UFC is commemorated with a superb entry by EA Sports even if everyone was expecting that this game will be bad due to Electronic Art’s ever-growing bad reputation within the gaming community with their questionable business practices as the gaming world is now monopolized.
The ragdoll animations on knockouts are what makes this game so entertaining to watch and play, followed by an improved modern presentation that immediately makes the first EA UFC game obsolete.
This game is what made the online community take off with hysterical yet rightful matchmaking. Sometimes, MMA has some comedic aspects in it and the fans contribute to how outrageous the community of the sport is.
As quickly as the UFC reinvented themselves into the mainstream scenery, this game is what started as the EA cover curse as every cover fighter for the game suffers from a major loss in high-profile fights or mishaps in their personal lives.
But this won’t stop you from playing the game, as the comical physics of the knockouts in the game is what makes this so high on the list.
4. EA Sports MMA
|October 19, 2010
|PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, iOS
Technically, it isn’t a UFC game. But after UFC acquired Strikeforce and made a deal with EA after being done with THQ, and since some fighters in the game have also competed in the UFC before, it’s safe to say that this goes under the radar.
The engine used is the one they use for the Fight Night games that is also an EA product, and this is EA’s first-ever MMA game and the game is better than their first UFC release.
EA Sports MMA is surprisingly good, even if it didn’t succeed in competing with the UFC Undisputed label. The ups are its roster, where it features fighters around the globe that aren’t signed with the UFC at the time.
The downs are the striking animations and controls since it seemed sloppy, and it doesn’t use the face buttons for the striking, but it’s forgivable due to how it doesn’t go in-depth on simulation elements. The Career Mode is quite cheesy, to say the least. So you’re better off leaving it alone.
Was it any good? Yeah, it is. But does it go on par with the Undisputed games? No. It is far from being on the level of THQ’s work.
3. UFC 2009 Undisputed
|May 19, 2009
|PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
UFC 2009 Undisputed is the first-ever THQ release of the UFC Undisputed franchise and it is one of the best MMA video games ever released, featuring some of the best fighters on the planet being added to the game as a part of the roster as it also showcases a lot of classic matches from that era on the Classic Fights Mode, where you recreate the fights and experience it just to see the similarities on how you watched them.
The game has a basic Career Mode, but the Create A Fighter Mode is better than ever since players are given the chance to edit the fighter’s appearance, fighting style, and how they present themselves inside the octagon.
This is also the first UFC game that features Online Mode, UFC 2009 Undisputed is the foundation of the best company that made such excellent UFC games, and there are two more games to follow that are even better.
The jump made from the sixth to seventh-gen is so mind-blowing, especially on the graphics. You see the differences with the UFC being able to capitalize on the power that the PlayStation 3 and the Xbox 360 hardware can put out.
2. UFC Undisputed 2010
|May 25, 2010
|PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PlayStation Portable, iOS
Just when everyone thought that the Undisputed franchise couldn’t get any better, here’s UFC Undisputed 2010 with a better-looking presentation and a UI that is indeed golden.
The only negative aspect of this game is that it loads too long, but it is understandable for the processing capacities and the storage used back then. And it features Brock Lesnar as the cover, how can everyone complain?
They just simply made the 2009 release even better and added more classic UFC matches on the Ultimate Fights Mode, not to mention the Career Mode that allows the player to expand their character’s skill set and attributes.
Also, Tournament Mode is added, even the Title Modes where you either pursue or defend your championship. Even the PSP version is enjoyable enough, although it is the game that broke my analog stick. But it’s all good, you can play this game on a more powerful console, especially on the PS3.
I do not have anything bad to say about this game, it’s so good and well done. I just hope that THQ didn’t file bankruptcy and went on making quality games for both UFC and WWE. I’ll take THQ UFC and WWE games over EA UFC and 2K WWE games all day.
1. UFC Undisputed 3
|February 14, 2012
|PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
And number one… THQ’s UFC Undisputed 3. Oh boy, I love this game so much. It’s the definitive MMA game for me. Not just UFC, but MMA game. The third installment of the UFC Undisputed series is made with love that it’s the most well-received UFC game ever. People who are jumping ships from EA UFC games to Undisputed 3 just prove that this is the best MMA video game of all time.
Let’s start with the gameplay. Oh man, the striking animations differ for every fighter and it just encourages you to choose and play every single fighter in this game to see how they strike. It also doesn’t let you spam, and the way how you input combos is up to you. You create your own combos, unlike EA UFC which feels like you are playing Tekken.
Of course, I cannot mention UFC Undisputed 3 without grappling. This game lets the player grapple realistically, and this is coming from a game that has an arcade-style of gameplay. The transitions are something you’ll see in real MMA fights, and the ground and pound system is brutal compared to EA UFC which makes you feel like you’re brain dead.
Presentation-wise, I love how this game makes you feel like you’re watching a fight produced by the UFC, let alone watching a whole event if you’re playing Ultimate Fights Mode. From the introduction video packages to the fight itself, the limitations aren’t present.
The commentary is pretty average, though. And the fight can be stopped if the in-game doctor calls it, or go brutal and follow up even if the fight is already stopped by the referee.
And last but not the least, the most beloved mode in this game, Pride Mode. When the UFC bought their competition Pride FC back on March 27, 2007, a lot of fighters moved into the UFC, but only a few of them succeeded in the octagon.
So the way how UFC Undisputed 3 honors the Japanese promotion is to add it to their game as a whole. With this, you can play dream matches as you can pair up fighters from Pride and those who are in the UFC.
Once you choose Pride Mode, the presentation changes, using the Pride arena and even changing the commentators, and it also adds fighters that are from Pride FC. The rule set is different from what you see in the UFC, so go nuts and kick your opponent in the head, they won’t penalize it. You can also play classic bouts under the Pride banner in Ultimate Fights Mode, so there you have it. It’s all-in-one and there is no better game than this.
UFC Undisputed 3 is not just a fighting game; it is basically MMA being translated into a controller. The beauty of the sport is portrayed perfectly in this game, and so is the brutality and violence that goes together like poetry in motion.