Having a set of UFC 4 tips in your locker can help you to avoid a pummelling, when you step into the octagon and face down your opponent. If you're more familiar with WWE games and their over-the-top moves then you may need to adjust your approach here, as to succeed in MMA you must engage your brain as well as your brawn, and this is especially true in UFC 4 as the AI offers up impressively nuanced opponents to contend with. We've got the basics plus some advanced strategies covered here, from stamina and clinching to beefing up your punching power, so level up your fights with our essential UFC 4 tips.
1. Conserve your stamina
Stamina is the most important commodity in UFC 4. See that oh-so-precious bar at the top of the screen that chips away at an alarming rate every time you throw out punches and kicks? You need to conserve it at all costs. While it can be tempting to wade in with aggressive flurries of haphazard strikes, you’re more likely to end up with an intensely vulnerable fighter with empty lungs than one who’s just ended a bout with a flash KO.
In five-round bouts it’s even more important to save your stamina. Brawl too aggressively in the opening stages, and your fighter will be out on their feet when the bell on that closing round rings. Low stamina also makes it harder to back away when your opponent is attacking, making you more vulnerable to a knockout blow.
2. Clinch to get your breath back
UFC 4’s much-improved tactical holds can be a lifesaver for gassed out fighters. If your MMA star is in need of a lung-saving breather, clinches are an invaluable tool for clawing back stamina. While there’s a danger of eating punches or being tossed to the mat during a clinch, instigating these holds – approach your opponent and press R1 and Square on PS4 / RB and X on Xbox One – is worth the risk if your fighter is running on empty. These sweaty MMA hugs are also a great way to waste valuable seconds for those rounds where you’re getting pummelled and just want to make the bell in one (slightly tenderised) piece.
3. Keep your hands up
Always. Be. Blocking. This sounds beyond obvious, but keep your damn hands up. Protecting your face and body in an MMA bout is clearly crucial, yet it can be weirdly easy to forget to block when you get caught up in the blood and fury of a UFC 4 fight. Sometimes when you’re on the end of a beating, your first thought will be to simply retreat. Yet if you don’t block to protect yourself while backing off, you can easily eat a kick or punch that could send you to the floor. As soon as you throw a wild strike that might put you in a vulnerable position, always press R2/RT to block against any potential incoming counter.
4. Don’t instantly look for a tap out
This tip applies more to single-player scuffles than online scraps. When taking on an AI opponent, resist the urge to try and end a fight early via submission. On anything but the lowest difficulty setting you’ll find fighters easily wiggle out of any tap out attempt you try to lock in during the opening round of a bout. Go for ankle-snapping glory too early and you’ll blow precious stamina that’s far better conserved for later in a fight when your back might be up against the (octagon) wall.
5. Go in for the KO when you stun an opponent
Clock an opponent with just the right heel-rocking strike and you’ll temporarily stun them – keep your peepers peeled for the red on-screen flash. As soon as your foe begins to stagger, zone in with a flurry of fight-ending blows. Play too cautiously during this short window, and the other fighter will quickly recover their composure. Act aggressively though, and you can score a KO with a concentrated frenzy of strikes.
This is one of the few instances in UFC 4 where it’s worth risking a big chunk of stamina in an effort to stop a bout quickly. When dealing with stunned opponents, stop thinking of yourself as a MMA brawler, and start picturing yourself as a peckish great white going in for the seal-munching kill.
6. Beef up your punching power
A powerful jab is your best friend when it comes to trying to end a fight with blink-and-you’ll-miss-it brutality. The most important attribute you can upgrade in UFC 4’s career mode is the Punch Power stat. Click the right trigger on the main fighter hub menu, then choose the Fighter Evolution option. From here you can upgrade every facet of your rookie MMA star’s fighting style, from footwork skills to takedown offence. If you want to deliver fight-ending knockouts as quickly as possible, spend those upgrade points on beefing up your punches.
7. Kill them with kindness
Throughout career mode your custom fighter is given the chance to interact with opponents via a fictional social media platform. In these situations, you can either throw sass at your rival to generate more interest in the fight – in turn attracting more sponsors – or you can butter them up with respectful responses. Our advice? Go with the do-gooder approach. Fighters you enjoy a good relationship with can be unlocked as sparring partners, which lets you learn new moves you won’t have access to if you go for the fake Twitter tirade route.
8. Check out challenges
Buried away in the Fighter Hub area is a series of challenges that can net you easy XP and in-game coins that can be spent on pimping out your fighter with new in-ring gear. Whether it’s winning five fights in Stand and Bang mode or completing 20 ground transitions, it’s worth checking in on these challenges from time to time if you ever need motivation to keep on fighting. There’s also a trio of bespoke daily challenges to tick off that provides motivation to log back into UFC 4 on a regular, bone-breaking basis.