MMA and boxing are crossing over once again — not in a ring or a cage, but in a video game.
Electronic Arts and the Ultimate Fighting Championship announced Saturday the latest installment of its video game franchise in UFC 4, and in addition to the roster of MMA stars, it will feature heavyweight champions Anthony Joshua and Tyson Fury in the game as well.
Gamers who pre-order UFC 4 “can play out one of the most anticipated fights in combat sports history with world heavyweight boxing champions Anthony Joshua and Tyson Fury on day one,” it was announced.
The WBO, WBA, IBF and IBO champion Joshua (23-1, 21 KOs) and the WBC champion Fury (30-0-1, 21 KOs) are slated to clash in 2021 for bragging rights of being the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world.
In the meantime, the score can be settled virtually in a different form of combat.
“EA Sports UFC 4 is the best fighting game ever made,” said UFC president Dana White. “Fans can play in the top arenas, as well as in Backyard and Kumite environments. This game allows you to play with the top athletes in UFC history, plus legends like Bruce Lee and boxing champions Anthony Joshua and Tyson Fury. It’s crazy how good this game is.”
The duo of UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya and UFC welterweight contender Jorge Masvidal don the cover of the game. In the game's official trailer, Joshua and Fury are showcased fighting in the cage with MMA gloves.
EA Sports has previously made Mike Tyson a playable character in UFC 2.
In recent months, Fury has entertained the thought of competing in the cage with four-ounce MMA gloves under boxing rules with the likes of Stipe Miocic and Francis Ngannou of the UFC. The British boxer has even previously engaged in MMA training.
UFC 4 will be the closest boxing fans have come to playing a new game specifically made for the sweet science since EA Sports released Fight Night Champion in 2011, and Fight Night Round 4 before that in 2009. However, the video game developer stopped making new iterations of its series, much to the dismay of fight fans.
Matchroom Boxing head Eddie Hearn has made it a personal challenge and tried taking the lead by championing a new version of a boxing video game in recent months, but not much has been revealed on the ground he’s been able to gain. He’s even considered developing a boxing video game by himself.
UFC 4 will be available August 14 on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.
EA Access members will be given an early access trial beginning August 7.
Manouk Akopyan is a sports journalist and member of the Boxing Writers Assn. of America since 2011. He has written for the likes of the LA Times, Guardian, USA Today, Philadelphia Inquirer, Men’s Health and NFL.com. He can be reached on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube at @ManoukAkopyan or via email at manouk[dot]akopyan[at]gmail.com.