"UFC 2009: Undisputed" Coming Together

December 19, 2008

Yesterday, it was confirmed by IGN.com that Rashad Evans will be included in the UFC’s latest videogame venture, UFC 2009 Undisputed. In the last month, the likes of Brock Lesnar, Kenny Florian, and Joe Stevenson have also been added to the growing roster of fighters that is expected to reach well over 80.

When reached by IGN, Evans correctly summarized the potential impact this videogame could have on the UFC’s fanbase with the following:

“I think it’s going to make a lot of new fans, people who’ve never even seen the UFC before but who love the videogame are going to start tuning in and it’s going to bring a whole new fan base and continue to grow the sport. And, the other thing it’s going to do is educate the people on the moves that are happening in the UFC. It’s going to be a teaching tool as well, because now people only see one thing, the knock outs. We’re not standing there with 16-ounce gloves on. We’re wearing four-ounce gloves, and there’s little room for error. You get hit with one of those bad boys and you can call it goodnight. The game will help people see there’s more to it than that though.”

Analysis:

Also important, UFC 2009 Undisputed will give fans an unparalleled level of interaction with their favourite fighters which is something that is going to drive interest in the UFC beyond the brand level.

Pushing individual fighters is something that the UFC has been reluctant to do thus far, but we’ve all seen the particularly strong examples, in recent weeks, of star power translating into PPV success. The abilities of Lesnar and De La Hoya to draw really illustrate that brand recognition, alone, can only take a sports organization so far.

While the UFC brand could probably draw a consistent 250k buys regardless of whom they select to fight on any given card, it’s the big names that are going to push the 750k-1,000k envelope.

Undisputed is going to push the fighters into the mainstream as fans will be given the opportunity to truly familiarize themselves with the entire roster; they’ll be able to see, first-hand, the strenghts, weaknesses, and personalities of each fighter.

An example of where this exposure could really pay dividends is for a guy like Anderson Silva –  a fighter that, for whatever reason and despite his incredible skill and engaging style, has not yet translated into a PPV draw. So, what’s it going to take?

Perhaps a couple of unbelievable beatdowns at the hands of the virtual ‘Spider’ to create some new fans…and that “holy **** this dude is a bad ass!” sensation. Or, less crudely, the videogame will more narrowly focus the attention of the fans onto the fighters and the sport itself, giving them a greater appreciation of his skill necessary to be the world’s “Pound-for-Pound King”

The Bottom Line:

I realize that everyone is hung-up on the economy and focused on a brilliant MMA schedule over the next 45 days, but few are really talking about this game and they should be.

It’s only 4-5 months away and could really be a difference maker for this sport – a golden opportunity, gift-wrapped in what will likely be the simultaneous promotion of UFC 100, an event also set to arrive in Spring 2009.

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