The infamous UFC cover curse strikes again.
If you’re a football fan, you’re likely familiar with the “Madden” curse where the player featured on the cover of EA Sports’ annual NFL game is doomed to encounter something bad — poor luck, a decline in play, or maybe a serious injury. Over the last decade, it’s become apparent that the curse is not exclusive to players on the gridiron.
On June 3, 2014, EA Sports released its first UFC game in the beloved series and fans immediately noticed the notorious trend when the OG cover athletes, Jon Jones and Alexander Gustafsson found themselves in some unfavorable situations shortly after appearing on the cover. ‘The Mauler’ would go on to suffer a vicious knockout at the hands of the late Anthony ‘Rumble’ Johnson in his home country while ‘Bones’ ended up testing positive for cocaine and was inevitably stripped of the light heavyweight title following his involvement in a hit-and-run accident in 2015.
The UFC curse would amass quite the victim count in the years that followed, bringing bad luck to megastars Ronda Rousey and Conor McGregor. UFC 4 cover athlete Jorge Masvidal kept the trend going via a nasty knockout loss at the hands of Kamaru Usman as part of a four-fight losing streak that would ultimately see ‘Gamebred’ retire from the sport altogether.
In its most destructive year yet, the still-to-be-released UFC 5 game from EA Sports has already claimed three victims.
The UFC Cover Curse Claims Three Victims in Six Weeks
Earlier this year, Valentina Shevchenko and Alexander Volkanovski were revealed to be the cover athletes for the game series’ latest entry scheduled to be released on October 27. Since the announcement, Shevchenko fought to a draw with current flyweight world champion Alexa Grasso in September while Volkanovski has lost to lightweight titleholder Islam Makhachev not once, but twice in 2023.
Israel Adesanya, who features as the cover athlete on the deluxe edition of the game, surrendered the middleweight title for the second time in less than a year after losing a lopsided unanimous decision against Sean Strickland at UFC 293.
Of course, Saturday night gave us the most recent example as reigning featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski came up short for the second time in his bid to become a two-division titleholder. Stepping into the UFC 294 main event on 11 days’ notice, ‘The Great’ suffered a brutal first-round knockout after Islam Makhachev landed a perfectly-timed head kick near the three-minute mark. The ‘Dagestani Destroyer’ followed up the vicious blow with a series of ground-and-pound strikes that ultimately spelled the end of the highly anticipated rematch.
Volkanovski has now lost two of his last three fights and will likely slide to No. 3 on the UFC’s coveted pound-for-pound ranking list behind top-ranked Jon Jones and Makhachev who should slide into the No. 2 spot.