Royce Gracie started his Ultimate Fighting Championship career with a streak of 11 consecutive submission victories that spanned the first four UFC events. In fact, he's still the only UFC fighter to notch double-digit tapout wins. In the modern world of EA Sports UFC, however, Dave “The Destroyer” Russo (renamed so because the announcers can't say “Rudden”) more than doubled Gracie's record over the course of his MMA career with 27 submissions against trained mixed martial artists. While some of that success is likely due to the limitless talent possess by the ruggedly handsome fighter, it's also a byproduct of EA Sports UFC's rookie missteps. As gorgeous as it looks, it's not a revolution in the same vein that Fight Night Round 3 was, as imbalanced single-player combat and an overall deficit of content keep this combatant from reaching its true potential.
If there's one area where EA's haymaker-throwing franchises share a common bond, it's that EA Sports UFC continues the tradition of being a launch window graphical showpiece. Nearly every single one of EA Sports UFC's fighters (nearing 100 in number) is recreated with stunning accuracy. When you consider the amount of ill-conceived tattoos and instances of unkempt facial hair permeating the Ultimate Fighting Championship, it's a pretty impressive feat. The fighters also animate pretty well. Fists and feet hit with the appropriate amount of impact; sometimes you'll score a punch to the face so hard that it opens a cut in the direct area of contact and sends a shockwave rippling all the way down the poor recipient's neck.
Sometimes, though, you'll misread a situation and limply kick the other guy's shoulder or even worse, catch limbs as your concurrent strikes collide. Add in the various ways to avoid strikes altogether (swaying, parrying, and straight-up dodging) and it's pretty impressive how the stand-up game resembles the real thing, warts and all. It would be nice if there was a more robust replay functionality on par with THQ's UFC Undisputed 3 or 2K's WWE series so that we could capture the combat outside of the pre-selected post-round clips, which are sometimes duds.
EA Sports UFC's grappling deserves some credit; when you're playing against a friend, it's better than any MMA game before it. Stand-up clinches are more than just stalemates (in fact, you can nail some pretty devastating strikes), and when you're on the ground, transitions are balanced enough so there's plenty of movement, yet escaping from a disadvantageous position is far from a cakewalk. However, given the complexity of the ground game, a few issues arise.