Virtual MMA: The 15 Best Video Games in MMA History

Cody GuinnContributor IIIApril 13, 2012

Virtual MMA: The 15 Best Video Games in MMA History

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    Mixed martial arts is one of the fastest growing sports in the World. With its popularity soaring, video game production and sells have been rising as well. Over the past four years, MMA video games have made a huge jump from games that are just "worth a try" to today being "must haves" for any sport or fighting video game collections.

    With that said, though, many MMA fans only know of the UFC Undisputed series and the EA 2010 release of their highly anticipated MMA game, but there are many, many MMA games out there ranging from pro wrestling games with an option to fight MMA rules in an octagon to UFC games released before the UFC began its initial growth to where it is today.

    This article will rank the top 15 mixed martial arts games. I'll be ranking the games by graphics, gameplay, game mode options, presentation, and MMA-feel. MMA-feel means how the game feels to an actual MMA fight. So, without further due, let's start the list!

15. Kings of Colosseum 2 (PS2)

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    Kings of Colosseum 2 is indeed mostly a pro wrestling game, but it does have an MMA feature and it is actually pretty awesome. If you're a pro wresting fan and love Fire Pro Wrestling (one of my personal favorite pro wrestling games), you'll definitely want to check this one out. MMA fans, at the same time, might also want to give it a try though.

    Since the game is primarily a professional wrestling game, I have it rated at the bottom of the list, but all and all, it is a lot of fun to play in the MMA mode. The graphics aren't spectacular and some of the rules are a little...off.

    Honestly, this is one of those games I can't say a lot about, therefore instead of just a review and a picture, check out this video of the game.

14. The Ishu Kakutougi (PS2)

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    Ishu Kakutougi, also known in North America as World Fighting, was released in 2004. Now, if you're looking for a deep career mode or an awesome create-a-fighter feature, then this is not the game for you. But, when it comes to straight-up mixed martial arts, this was one of the best games of its time.

    The game features the early UFC-type of matchups. For example, instead of just having MMA, it features a kickboxer facing off against BJJ specialist. The gameplay for such an early MMA game is actually rather good. According to GameFAQs review, "The gameplay is simple, but deceptively clever. A combination of strategy, momentum, and even a bit of button mashing is thrown into the mix."

    The graphics are about as good as you would expect for a 2004 video game. They're that normal mix between a virtual human and an obvious cartoon character. 

    When it comes down to it, the game is lacking in game modes and graphics, but the MMA-feel was one of the best of its time. It was never very popular here in America, but if you ever get a chance to check it out, it's definitely worth a play.

13. UFC: Throwdown (PS2)

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    UFC: Throwdown was one of the worst games the UFC ever released. Not because the gameplay or graphics were horrible, it was just the game didn't really improve from Ultimate Fighting Championship released before Throwdown. And even worse, in some aspects, the game took a step back.

    We'll start with the one major positive of the game and that's the career mode. This career mode is very awesome due to the fact you can create your career fighter to be focused around kickboxing and as you progress in your career, you can aim to become more of a BJJ fighter.

    Also, once you're done customizing your fighter, you can test your skills and instead of just earning points throughout, you're presented with challenges. For each challenge completed, your created fighter will earn a new move, ability, or combination. When your fighter is up to par, you can then spar in five fights and you'll earn even more points to which you can then add and learn all new skills and improve your fighter.

    Besides that, the presentation is basically exactly the same as Ultimate Fighting Championship and the graphics are actually a tad bit worse. The game is fun if you're okay with an arcade MMA-feel as many say the game feels "Tekken-ish." The good news for the major UFC gamers, though, is that it only gets better from here.

12. K-1 Premium 2005 Dynamite!! (PS2)

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    K-1 Premium 2005 Dynamite!! is a game that I had a hard time finding info on and one of the few games on this list I've never played. It also is one of two games on this list that mixes MMA with another sport as this game features some of the best of K-1 which is mostly kickboxing.

    The game features a nice roster of fighters which includes Josh Barnett, Yoshihiro Akiyama, and Kid Yamamoto as well as K-1 greats in Ray Sefo and Butterbean. Gameplay features are pretty cool, especially when it comes to the ground.

    According to runboard.com, if someone is postured up in your guard pounding you and you catch a punch, you can put them in an omoplata and when you stun somebody in mount and go for a submission, you can choke them unconscious. You can also apply an armbar from mount and the opponent will tap.

    After finding some footage and info on the game, it turns out the game is quite awesome. Entrances are said to be better than Pride FC, submissions and KOs look very vicious, and the graphics as far as PS2 go are some of the best. If I could find the game and play it myself, I would maybe rank it higher on the list, but for now, it'll have to settle for this. 

11. Ultimate Fighting Championship (Dreamcast)

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    The second of many UFC games on the list is the first one released, rightfully named Ultimate Fighting Championship. The game was built around the famous UFC tagline, "As real as it gets" and the game was oddly close to that. 

    Released in 2000, the game features graphics that almost, to me, seem way ahead of its time. Each fighter is very detailed and the entrances are actually a step up from the WWE games released around the same time. The game's impressive soundtrack ranging from the hard metal music playing throughout the game to the great fighting sound effects also help make the games appearance great. 

    Also, the game features the original UFC format where you are in a tournament where you must defeat three opponents to become UFC Champion. Also, the game features a ladder mode where you must defeat 12 men including Tito Ortiz and your final fight, a fictional character in Ultiman. 

    The game features two of the fastest growing modes in video games at the time in a create-a-fighter feature as well as a career mode, but neither are very detailed.

    The game is very fun to play due mainly to all the game options, but the constant button mashing eventually takes its toll. The game wasn't quite Undisputed, but it was a great way for the UFC to begin its video game series.

10. Virtual Pro MMA (PC Version)

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    Virtual Pro MMA is honestly almost the MMA version of WWE's No Mercy. Now, first off, No Mercy is my favorite Nintendo 64 game of all-time, so it's no wonder this game cracked my top ten. Now, it doesn't necessarily have the graphics of say Ultimate Fighting Championship or Throwdown, but when it comes to MMA-feel, this game has both of them beat.

    Virtual Pro MMA is actually Virtual Pro Wrestling modded into a PC game. Due to the fact I've never played the game, I have to go strictly on what I read and videos I see online. 

    I'm rating the game highly because it's awesome to see what some computer and video game wizards can do with a game when it comes to mods. If anyone wants to know more about the game, there is a large Sherdog forum on the game and ways for you to possibly play it.

9. UFC: Tapout 2 (Xbox)

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    UFC: Tapout 2 is the sequel to a game that will show up later on our list and the reason the sequel is rated lower than it's prequel is simply because the game didn't improve. The main thing about releasing a sequel is to give fans a reason to spend $50 more to get the new version of the game, and I'm not so sure Tapout 2 does that.

    The main thing is the presentation and gameplay are remotely the same from the original Tapout. Anytime you release a sequel to a video game, you should change the presentation at least a little, just so even if everything else is the same, you can say, "well hey, at least it looks different." The gameplay being the same isn't really a bad thing, due to the fact it was so good in the original game.

    UFC: Tapout 2 does have its perks though in a few more game modes than the original as well as some improvements to the graphics. The game has a much cleaner and realer look, if you will, but the blood is still very fake and cartoon looking.

    Honestly, I believe IGN said it best when in their review for the game they said, "If you didn't buy the first Tapout, then the sequel is definitely a worthy pick-up. However, if you've played the original, this one really isn't worth the [money.]"

8. Pride Grand Prix 2003 (PS2)

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    Pride Grand Prix 2003 was highly anticipated due to the success of the original Pride FC, but honestly, the game was a tad bit disappointing. The one major plus was the game was very similar to the first, but that's also a bad thing due to the fact the game really didn't improve significantly.

    In my opinion, the graphics are the one major bright spot of the game. The feel is very Pride-like, while the first Pride game kind of felt more like the UFC. So, as a Pride fan, that makes a huge difference. Some of the character models are pretty generic, but some others are nearly spot on. 

    When it comes to gameplay and animation, though, the game is simply lacking. Gameplay is still fun like it was in the original game, especially if you're playing a friend and you both are pretty good. Some of the gameplay problems with the first game, though, are still problems in this game and some features from the last game have been taken out, such as losing breath (cardio) throughout the match. In Pride GP 2003, you only lose breath when you get hit.

    The game in general is still a lot of fun to play, but it just doesn't improve from the first version; which, kind of kills the whole point of a sequel. Still, if you're a major Pride fan, this is a game you have to check out somewhere down the road.

7. UFC: Sudden Impact

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    UFC: Sudden Impact was the final UFC game released before the Undisputed series began. The game was a fairly nice improvement from UFC: Throwdown, which is rated No. 13 on this list. My favorite thing about Sudden Impact was the way the game put a lot more emphasis on the ground game. Many of the other UFC games were really more arcade, "punches in bunches" games, while Sudden Impact actually has a little difficulty to it.

    If you attempt to play the game without any knowledge of MMA, the game can be quite difficult. As GameSpy puts it, "Unlike typical fighting games, where matches have an even pace, here you can be beating the daylights out of an opponent and still get tapped out in the blink of an eye. It can be frustrating, but it's the way real matches are won and lost in the sometimes chess-like, sometimes bar-fight-like world of the UFC."

    UFC: Sudden Impact features a career mode, a mode called Champion Road where you just test your skills at different difficulties, and also a classic UFC tournament mode. The game also features an awesome collection of unlockables in playable characters such as UFC President Dana White, Lorenzo Fertitta, "Big" John McCarthy, and the late "Mask" Charles Lewis, who is also featured on the cover.

    Sudden Impact really isn't a huge step up from any of the previous UFC games, but it did have some awesome features that set it apart from some of the other games.

6. UFC: Tapout (Xbox)

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    UFC: Tapout was quite frankly the best non-Undisputed UFC game released. I mean, the game features Women's MMA for goodness sake! Okay, but for real, the gameplay was amazing. When you picked up the controller, you might as well clear your schedule, because all you wanted to do was play fight after fight.

    While some other UFC games were more like button-mashing games; not UFC: Tapout. The fight engine is simply great. You have to pick your punches and kicks wisely because just throwing a lot of strikes will lower your stamina and make it easier for your opponent to knock you out or submit you. Each fighter's character looks really good and the fight graphics are not awful. The camera angles at time can mess with you, though.

    Tapout features four game modes which are Arcade mode, UFC mode, Tournament, and exhibition. The create-a-fighter feature isn't bad, just fairly generic. You do get the options to give your created fighter different descriptions, which are like a combination of fighting style and personalities. Your options are cat-like reflexes, experience new Jack hustler, incredible striker, just plain bad and vicious on the ground.

    At the end of the day, UFC: Tapout wasn't quite what the Undisputed series is today, but at the time, it was the best UFC game available. Still, today, the game is fun to play and the gameplay makes the game always an option to play when you want to get the original Xbox out to play. 

5. UFC Undisputed (PS3 & Xbox 360)

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    In my opinion, the most anticipated game in sports history. When it was announced the UFC had signed a deal with THQ, best known for WWE games, MMA fans began to get pumped. We were not let down. UFC Undisputed made the majority of MMA games before it look extremely mediocre. 

    UFC Undisputed featured a deep roster featuring fighters from the Heavyweight, Light Heavyweight, Middleweight, Welterweight, and Lightweight divisions. The original Ultimate Fighter winner Forrest Griffin was on the cover of the American and International versions of the game while UFC Welterweight Champion Georges St-Pierre graced the Canadian version of the game. 

    The complex control scheme really made the game more enjoyable due to the fact that if you didn't go through the tutorial and learn the basics, you weren't going to be any good at this game. Learning how to play the game is half the fun, and then there is beating up on the AI. Submissions were awesome when playing in multiplayer against someone there with you or online, but against the computer was very difficult to pull off. 

    Career mode is long and fun the first time around, but the stat decay really gets to you after awhile. Honestly, there weren't really many faults with the game when it was released, which is crazy considering how the games have improved (which we'll see later on this list). UFC Undisputed was the first of its kind and really was the beginning of awesome MMA video games.

4. Pride FC (PS2)

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    You would think the top of this list would feature only next Gen games, which the majority are, but one MMA game from the early days stands alone and that's Pride FC.

    Pride FC features a nice roster, great presentation, great gameplay, and all together one of the best overall MMA games of all-time. Starting with the games best quality: presentation. Right when the game starts up, you're nearly hooked. IGN says, "From the fighter transition screens and introductions to personalized pre-match warm-ups, Pride looks and feels like the real enchilada" and they couldn't be more right. Sometimes, while playing the game, I'd have to stand up, just because the experience was so amazing.

    Winning the Grand Prix was one of the most exciting events in my video game life. It was the best celebration I've ever witnessed in any sports game I've ever played: confetti, your team, the announcers, camera guys, the trophy, and everything in between. It made you feel like you didn't just put in an hour and a half of work for nothing.

    When it comes to gameplay, the game is a lot better than any of the UFC games released around the same time. Striking and grappling is mostly based on timing rather than how many times you can press the X-button. It wasn't one of those games where you need a new controller after a week of playing; you actually had to think about what you were doing, what your opponent is doing and what you're going to do next.

    Pride FC may not have the look or feel of UFC Undisputed, but when you think of when it was released and what other fighting games were released at the same time, you'll see why the game stands alone in its era as the best MMA game.

3. EA MMA (PS3 & Xbox 360)

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    EA Sports is one of the best known sports video game makers of all-time, so when it came time for them to jump into the MMA video game ring, you knew it would be big...and it was. EA MMA featured a totally different feel from the UFC's Undisputed series which was good and bad.

    EA MMA featured striking very similar to the famous Boxing video game series "Fight Night" and that was one of the biggest things fight fans wanted and it was awesome. Striking in EA MMA looked much more realistic and fluid than it did in UFC Undisputed. But, when it came to the ground game, it was EA MMA that was lacking. All you had to do was hit one button to transition, which made it a lot less fun to hardcore MMA gamers. 

    Submissions ranged from mini games to a sort of button mashing game, both at which were better than random circling the analog stick like on Undisputed. Another major hit was EA MMA's career mode. Bas Rutten helped lead you on your road to becoming a top promotion champion while you fought all around the world and trained at many different gyms with legendary trainers like Randy Couture and Pat Miletich.

    The one major thing hurting EA MMA was the lack of big names. At the time of release, the UFC was quickly rising, but the overall MMA scene was still sort of lacking. Therefore, while fans knew names like Fedor, Randy Couture, and Nick Diaz, many of the other fighters were mysteries to the majority of gamers, making the game a little less marketable than UFC Undisputed.

    All in all, EA MMA is a very different experience than UFC Undisputed and if you've always played Undisputed, it's definitely well worth the buy to check out the EA version of an MMA video game.

2. UFC 2010 Undisputed (PS3 & Xbox 360)

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    No. 2 is the second game in the UFC Undisputed series: UFC 2010 Undisputed. The game was the highly anticipated sequel to the original Undisputed and was a large improvement from the first. UFC 2010 Undisputed was covered by UFC Heavyweight and former WWE Champion Brock Lesnar.

    Undisputed 2010 improved in many of the departments the original lacked, mainly presentation. In 2010, career mode is much deeper and much more realistic. Commentator Joe Rogan will tell everyone what happened in your fighter's last fight and, if you're fighting on the main card and pick up the win, you'll get a post-fight interview with Joe, where you can thank your fans, sponsors, or call out the champion. It's a neat experience the first time you play and something many gamers complained about in the first game.

    Gameplay wise, the game improved in many ways as well. You can now pin your opponent up against the cage, as well as the ability to win a fight via doctor stoppage (if you can somehow manage to get one). Also, due to clipping issues, long hair couldn't be featured in the first installment of the game, but that was fixed in 2010 therefore Lightweight Clay Guida (and his hair) were added to the game as were southpaw stances for left handed fighters.

    In a years time, it's crazy how THQ took a great game and still managed to improve it. UFC 2010 Undisputed is a great game, but still was missing a few things. So, THQ took a little more time and attempted to create the perfect MMA video game. They might have succeeded...

1. UFC Undisputed 3 (PS3 & Xbox 360)

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    Released on Valentine's Day of this year, UFC Undisputed 3 is an MMA lovers dream. It combines great MMA gameplay with the actual feel of a real UFC event. I honestly can't see why anyone would not love this game.

    First, gameplay is spectacular. Stand-up is finally a notch above EA MMA with each fighter having their own techniques to each fighter having a footwork attribute which plays a major role in stand-up battles. On the ground, the Undisputed series continues to improve. An improved submission system that doesn't leave you to just wonder how in the world you got submitted; now, on-screen mini games determine if you lock in your submission or if your opponent can escape. It might take away a little bit from the realism, but it's much better than the submission system in 09 and 10.

    This past year, the UFC added two new divisions in the Featherweight and Bantamweight divisions and they are included in the game. Playing with the smaller fighters makes the game feel like a whole new game. They move with much more speed and throw quicker punches and kicks than the heavier fighters. New to the game in 2012 is fighter entrances which adds a little more visual effect as well as realism to the game. Also, Pride was added to the game, so if you need your soccer kick fix, jump in to Pride mode and you can relive some of the greatest moments in MMA history.

    Career mode is also greatly improved and a huge step-up from the two previous installments of the game. Create-a-fighter mode is improved and now features a create-a-logo option which helps create even better looking created fighters.

    Online is currently going through some issues right now, but the game has yet to go through it's first patch, but when it does, there's no doubt in my mind UFC Undisputed 3 will become even better. 

    UFC Undisputed 3 is the best MMA video game out right now, no matter where you look. I honestly don't see how anyone could make an argument for any other game. Two through 15 though? That's definitely up for debate. If you think a game is missing or you disagree with any of the games' rankings, please comment and let me know!