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December 17, 2014

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Couture signs on with EA Sports

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UFC legend Randy Couture, right, shakes hands with EA Sports president Peter Moore after the announcement Saturday that Couture will appear in company's upcoming "MMA" video game.

SAN JOSE, Calif. — At last Randy Couture can have the dream fight he always wanted, the only problem is the format he’ll be battling Fedor Emelianenko will be set on an electronic stage.

The UFC legend announced Saturday that he will appear in EA Sports’ “MMA” video game set to be released sometime in 2010, joining the Russian heavyweight Emelianenko and other non-UFC notables Renato "Babalu" Sobral and Gegard Mousasi.

“This could be the only place you see Randy fight Fedor,” EA Sports president Peter Moore said as a room full of media members shared in the laughter with a smirking Couture.

Couture, the former UFC light heavyweight and heavyweight champion, is the only fighter in the world’s premiere mixed martial arts organization allowed to participate in EA’s rival game to the UFC’s THQ-developed “Undisputed 2009” because he was actually out of contract with the UFC last year when UFC president Dana White informed all UFC fighters they would not be allowed to compete in the UFC if they signed with EA.

“It’s obviously an honor to be here with EA, which is the leader in games,” Couture said. “For them to take on MMA and build a game that is gonna be not only action packed, but cerebral is something that was interesting to me.”

Moore — who also announced that Couture’s Xtreme Couture teammate Jay Hieron, who is competing into tonight’s Strikeforce event in San Jose will also be part of the game — dispelled White’s previous comments that disparaged EA during failed negotiations with UFC officials.

“I actually can probably tell you that I’m sure wasn’t the case, but I wasn’t working for Electronic Arts at the time,” said Moore about White’s comments in July: "EA Sports told us, 'You're not a real sport,'" White said in July. "'We wouldn't touch this thing. We want nothing to do with this.'"

But Moore said no matter the specifics of the situation that he respects White and the UFC and that talk was all in the past, he and EA are looking to grow the sport via the video game platform.

“For whatever (reason), my friends at the UFC want to purport to be the situation, that really doesn’t matter now,” Moore said. “Our goal is to grow the sport.

"The sport is mixed martial arts. The sport is not UFC. We will certainly be competitive, if that's what it takes to be able to grow it.”

Moore said fans could expect a game that is considerably different than THQ’s UFC offering.

"We need to have depth. We need to have geographic diversity. We need to have obviously as many different styles as we possibly can," said Moore, who compared the upcoming title to EA’s successful 'Fight Night' franchise. “But I think most importantly, we need to have a differentiated product.

"All of the learnings that we have at EA Sports about how to make a deep and immersive sports game will be applied to MMA. Of course the extra learnings, the physics we've developed and invested a lot of money in over the years with 'Fight Night,' and of course before that 'Knockout Kings,' is going to be very important in having that level of differentiation."

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