Educational Violence: UFC and Me

by Mitchell Dyer


I went down to Agoura Hills to see THQ’s UFC 2009 Undisputed this month and had the chance to play the game and talk to the producer behind it. This isn’t something I would have had even a modicum of interest in if you’d talked to me a month ago. I’ve never liked the sport, aside from the “oh snap” highlights the day following a fight, because it seemed like bland boxing. And I don’t like boxing.

UFC fights always seemed to take to the ground, and wrestling isn’t something that’s interested me since I was ten-years-old. So there was nothing in it for me aside from big knockouts that I could cherry pick on YouTube. Now, after playing the game for a couple weeks straight, I’ve absolutely fallen in love. I can tell you that, in the screenshot above, Chuck Liddell is about to land a freakin’ devastating superman punch on “Shogun” Rua.  I can also tell you that, should he get the chance, Shogun will be doing his best to take Liddell to the ground, get a full mount, and lock him in a submission.

In my time with UFC 2009 Undisputed I’ve noticed that unfamiliar words have become regular vocabulary. I’ve been subliminally assimilated by Undisputed.

I recognize the vernacular, I’m familiar with the positions that “half guard” and “side control” are referring to, and I know that Matt Hughes lost to Thiago Alves in UFC 85. This is all a result of learning the ins and outs of how the fighting works as well as listening to the announcers babble mid-fight. Beating the crap out of somebody and learning about their real-life history is something that you don’t really see in any other game. Madden does a rad job of tracking the action, but you rarely get anything more than “That was a big throw and a great play” before the play-by-play begins again.

It’s an organic way of teaching players about the sport. THQ’s brawler has taught me a significant amout about the Ultimate Fighting Championship, and has converted me — I’m going to ensure that I catch UFC 98 on Pay Per View when it goes down.

If you told me this a month ago, I would have laughed in your face and called you daft. Pretty weird, huh? So if you’re convinced that you won’t like UFC 2009, give it a chance. Who knows what it’ll do to you.