Can Paul Heyman Save EA Sports MMA?

On the left, Fedor Emelianenko, probably the greatest mixed martial artist to ever live. I don’t want to hear any arguments on that point, either. On the right, Randy Couture, the UFC star who appears in the game courtesy of a short lived dispute with UFC brass. Throw in some Alistair Overeem, Jason “Mayhem” Miller, Fabricio Werdum, and Nick Diaz (and more, of course) and you have EA Sports MMA, EA’s response to the incredible sales of THQ’s UFC Undisputed 2009. (UFC Undisputed 2010 didn’t sell too well, and now THQ has moved it from a yearly release to a once-per-18-months release. THQ now has the UFC license through 2018, by the way.) But, given that it’s very much “UFC” that’s hot at the moment and not necessarily “MMA,” will EA find an audience with a game the predominantly features Strikeforce fighters?

Paul Heyman will certainly try.

Wrestling fans will recognize the name Paul Heyman from his days as ECW’s head booker, as well as head pretty much everything else. When ECW folded, he went to WWE and eventually became the SmackDown head writer. That’s when SmackDown was worth watching, you’ll recall. During this time he grew close to current UFC Heavyweight Champion Brock Lesnar.

And now he’s involved in MMA, despite TNA Wrestling’s half-hearted attempts to secure his services a few months ago.

Heyman’s new company, Looking 4 Larry, has produced various spots for EA Sports MMA. Here’s one starring MMA legend Frank Shamrock:

And here’s one featuring Fabricio Werdum, who shocked the world in June by tapping Fedor:

(UFC President Dana White was all smiles following the loss of the previously undefeated (and Strikeforce’s biggest name) Fedor.)

Cung Le’s promo is particularly compelling:

A video featuring Nick Diaz has also been produced, and we’re awaiting the fifth and final video to appear. I should hope it features Jason Miller. If there were ever a guy that screams “SHOULD BE ON TV, ALWAYS,” it’s Miller.

I haven’t bought the game yet since I have entirely too much on my plate right now (Fallout: New Vegas, bugs and all, will take some time to finish), but I did play my fair share of the demo. Seeing Overeem billed from England annoyed me, but the presentation is otherwise spot-on. And it looks great, too, particularly considering the age of the Xbox 360 hardware.

The game has a unique feature called EA Sports Live Broadcast, and it lets you, the player, have your fight broadcast online complete with live commentary. You will have to be “recruited” to have your fight broadcast, but it’s at least a tangible goal to keep in mind: gotta keep playing till I’m selected.

So the game certainly looks like it has a lot going for it, but I wonder if today’s casual UFC fan will give it a chance.