How to Not Totally Suck at EA Sports UFC

With EA’s sophomore attempt at producing a UFC game on the horizon, it might be wise to learn a few things from its first effort.

by Jake Hughes
Jan 11 2016, 10:43pm

Being a gamer is nothing to brag about. But, I am an unashamed fan of video games—especially ones where you get to beat the piss out of your opponents online. "Boasting" a record of 222 wins and 95 losses and ranked at Red Belt on the game's online championship mode, I'd like to think I'm somewhat decent at the game.

I was also the UK and European online champion at lightweight on EA's Fight Night Champion game during my university days for a brief week-long tenure. Who needed to go to university lectures when you could be an online badass instead? No, this nerdom knows no bounds.

Sure, it's nothing to brag about. But, with the upcoming release of EA's sophomore UFC game on the horizon getting the MMA community in a frenzy, I hope I can perhaps lend a hand to anyone who wishes to beat people up via the Internet.

Lots of the below advice will appear as common sense and relative to the real-life form of MMA. But, you'd be amazed at how many people playing the game fail to realize the importance of stamina, for example. All of the below videos and gifs were made when competing against other players online.


First off, learn the wrestling/ground game!

If you're new to the game, it's likely a more experienced opponent will realise this quite quickly and will take you down to the mat to have their way with you.

EA UFC has some flaws in its striking game. It's a button-masher's dream with each strike mapped to a button, rather than Fight Night/EA MMA's analogue stick-based punching system. Therefore, anyone can get the better of their opponent on the feet with well-timed or lucky strikes so your foe will often revert to a wrestling-based attack if they are getting lit up.

Defending the takedown is easy (R2 + down on the right analogue stick – controls vary on your games console preference). But, much like in real life, if your opponent times the takedown just right after you throw a kick or over-extend on a punch, there's no chance you're defending the takedown.

Alternatively, if you want to take your opponent down, make sure you time the takedown properly and that you're wisely picking your opportunities. Failed attempts don't score well with the virtual judges.

Look, even Mark Hunt can take down Brock Lesnar after he throws a leg kick. (What is Brock doing throwing kicks, anyway?)

Once on your back, you need to know what you have to do get back up. Spamming the clicked left analogue stick to stand up is not wise. It is both predictable (the easiest transition to block by the opponent on top, using R2 + down on the right analogue stick again) and awful to maintain good stamina which is THE most important part of this game in all areas.

Constantly clicking the left analogue stick to stand up looks a lot like this:

Change it up! If clicking the left analogue stick doesn't work, keep the opponent guessing by rotating the right stick for smaller ground transitions before attempted the quick stand up.

Or, if your opponent is in your full-guard, hold down L1 and rotate the right stick to pressurize with a sweep. Failing that, hold down R1 and rotate the right stick to threaten with a submission. You'll be surprised at how many people do not want to go to the ground with anyone who appear to know one iota about submitting opponents online.

Blocking transitions is equally as important and it's easy. Hold down R2 (or its equivalent) and push the right stick to the direction your opponent is trying to transition to. Fights are truly won and lost on the ground on EA UFC and it's unlikely that will change in the series' second iteration.

The below video is me (or "The Notorious" Conor McGregor) beating up some guy playing as Matt Brown. While not the prettiest fight in my glittering online career, Brown's size and reach advantage was getting the better of my fighter so I took him down. I know, I know—it's sacrilege to use wrestling as Conor McGregor. But, it's the perfect example of earning an easy takedown against an over-zealous opponent and it proved to be worth it as I soon realised how inept my opponent was on the floor.

Vary up your attacks and learn to counter!

Having a variety of weapons is a key component in having success in this game. Conversely, predictability is one of your biggest foes. Throwing in a few takedowns is great way to keep your opponent edgy and on their toes. But, a varied striking attack goes a long way.

Personally, I like to start a lot of striking combinations with shots to the opponent's body. EA UFC's blocking system (where you just hold R2 and it defends both body and head strikes) is flawed and is rumoured to be on the chopping block for EA's release due around Easter.

Even with automated blocking, you can easily pierce your opponent's guard with strikes if you open your attack with a punch to the body before going upstairs.

While it's worth keeping an eye on your energy levels, combinations are your best bet if you ever want to win a fight by KO or even by decision. You're never going to win consistently with single shots on this game. Punctuate your attacks with a leg kick to really get the judges in your favor—even the virtual equivalent of Cecil Peoples.

Countering is both effective and easy on EA UFC. If you push the corresponding strike button your opponent is pressing while blocking, this will set up a counter opportunity through either a parry or a sway away from that strike thrown. That then leaves your opponent open for a strike and, much like in real life, counters are often more powerful than standard strikes thrown on the game.

Find a fighter you like and stick to it!

The above takes some time as you learn all the moves and skill-sets of your fighter of choice. The best way to really get a feel of your fighter is to compete against others online.

However, this is made a bit easier thanks to the fighter selection screen's information.

Not only does the game provide a ranking/score out of 100 for a fighter's respective striking, wrestling and submission abilities, there is also valuable information telling you what the competitor's main strengths are.

In the above photo, it's clear that one of Vitor Belfort's main strengths is his punching aptitude. This is also helped by the fact there is a 'Fighter Ability' which means you can string combinations together and it is less likely you will suffer from severely-decreased stamina in doing so.

So, if you want to compete in the light heavyweight or middleweight division on this game and enjoy punching people, Belfort's your guy.

Alternatively, if you want to play as a dangerous kicker, it might be worth trying out one of the Nova União fellas such as Jose Aldo or Renan Barao.

And finally...

For the love of God, please maintain your stamina bar!

Stamina is by far the most important component on this game.

Low stamina not only slows you down as a fighter, but it also puts you in a whole world of bother when on the defensive.

It leads you susceptible to knockouts, takedowns and submissions. Not to mention the fact your strikes and ability to make ground transitions/resist being out-manoeuvred on the floor are severely hampered.

The biggest way people lose their stamina is by over-committing with strikes and combinations without realising their stamina bar is draining—which is odd, considering it's clearly displayed at the top of the screen.

However, the biggest stamina killer without most people knowing is the fact that holding down the block button is detrimental to your fuel tank.

As in the above gif, Brock Lesnar's stamina bar on the top right of the screen is constantly being drained despite him not throwing a punch. That's because the user had held down the block button and he is being hit by strikes in the meantime. The constant blocking hasn't allowed Lesnar to regain his energy. When that's happening, soon enough, the guard will fall down and you're easy pickings to become an online knockout victim.

Alternately, it's always worth keeping your eye on the state of your opponent's energy levels to see if you can take full advantage of your foe's inefficiency yourself.


That's a wrap. The above guidelines may appear simple and rudimentary enough. But, following this advice will mould you into the brawling badass you always wanted to be without earning a real-life black eye.