Ronda Rousey appears to be the latest victim in a long line of high-profile athletes who have suffered misfortune and injury following their appearance on a EA Sports title’s cover.
Rousey, who has been widely touted as the kind of transcendent, generational athlete that can define an entire sports era, got knocked out last night in her title bout with underdog Holly Holm. Defenders of Rousey’s status as the greatest women’s UFC fighter of all time were quick to point out that she had been touring the world promoting the fight and had to take a long flight to Melbourne, and there is merit to that explanation. However, long-time sports gamers know that there were greater powers at work behind last night’s high-profile title loss.
It’s called the Madden Curse, and it is the only explanation people have been able to give for the otherwise inexplicable string of injuries and disasters that accompany an athlete appearing on the cover of a EA Sports game like Madden NFL 16 (for what it’s worth, Odell Beckham Jr., the cover athlete for that title, has been hampered by hamstring injuries all season). Rousey had been announced as the cover athlete for the newest EA game, UFC 2, the Friday before the fight took place. Coincidence? Probably, but the evidence that suggests that EA Sports upset a powerful karmic force at some point is beginning to build up.
Of course, the timing of Rousey’s loss couldn’t be worse. Beyond being revealed as the cover athlete for UFC 2, Rousey has been a social media darling over the past few months, especially within the world of unlikely celebrity gamers. Her love of the Pokemon franchise has been well-documented, and the gaming community has really embraced her as a symbol that gamers can be just as successful outside of the industry as anyone else.
The iconic fighter’s popularity among gamers has reached such a fever pitch that fans recently re-imagined Rousey as a Street Fighter character, a concept that actually didn’t seem too far-fetched a few days ago. After all, Rousey’s Reddit AMA thread featured a very heavy focus on video games and was well-received. If she had continued her dominance in the UFC, its’ possible she might have appeared in a current-gen celebrity fighting title in the same vein of Mike Tyson’s Punch Out!! on the NES.
It’s important to keep in mind that although the loss is a big blow to the perception of Rousey as the greatest fighter, male or female, in the world, it’s not as if her career is over. She’ll have every opportunity to earn another chance at the championship, and a Ronda Rousey redemption story might make for a better video game narrative should a developer decide to tell it.
Do you think the Madden Curse is real? Would you like to see more athletes actively involved in the video game community? Let us know in the comments.