They call it the Madden Curse. Leading sports video game publisher EA puts an NFL star on the cover of its annual football franchise and then that star gets hurt or suffers some other bad fate. On Friday, EA announced Ronda Rousey as its cover athlete for its second UFC game. Whoops.
The previously undefeated and seemingly unbeatable Rousey was knocked out on Sunday in Melbourne by Holly Holm in a huge upset that few saw coming.
Rousey’s defeat won’t stop her from being a big star and a potentially viable cover athlete for EA. It’ll certainly help if she wins her next fight, but her planned presence on the video game cover looks awkward at the moment. The game launches this coming spring. Rousey, for what it’s worth, is also a lifelong gamer.
We’ve checked with EA to see if their plans for the game’s cover are changing in light of Melbourne. EA had announced her as the “lead” cover athlete, implying verbally and with the visual you see up top that a second fighter would also be on the box.
UPDATE - 1058am: A tweet from current EA COO and former EA Sports chief Peter Moore:
EA has had a rough run with cover athletes of late. It had to remove Patrick Kane, one of its two cover athletes for NHL 15, after the hockey star was accused of rape, a charge that has since fallen apart.
Rousey’s defeat has echoes of another time a dominant combat athlete went halfway around the world to get annihilated by an alleged no-hoper, Mike Tyson getting thrashed by Buster Douglas in 1990. Tyson had no video game cover in the works at that moment, but he was swiftly pulled from a then-WWF Main Event special running a couple of weeks later. Douglas took his place.