Ever since 1999 when EA Sports introduced the concept of cover athletes to their yearly installment of Madden, there’s been a trend where players featured on the cover of the game perform badly or face some kind of misfortune. It’s called the “Madden curse,” and you’ve probably heard of it.
It’s become such a phenomenon over the years that fans have started campaigns to see that their favorite players don’t get featured on the cover of EA’s popular football franchise. Some people attribute the curse to regression to the mean. In football, that makes sense. If you’re coming off of what might possibly be the best season of your career, it doesn’t mean that next year will be just as good. Sure, it could be, but it might not.
That makes sense in a sport like football, which has a new season every year. Every year has its ups and downs, and sometimes you’ll see a really good year. The Carolina Panthers, for example, had a fantastic 2016 season ultimately landing them a spot in Super Bowl 50 and giving them a chance at the Lombardi trophy for the second time in the team’s 20 year history.
The athlete who will be chosen to star on the cover of Madden 17 has yet to be revealed, but the evidence for the curse is pretty damning. Odell Beckham Jr., who graced the cover of Madden 16 was suspended during the 2016 season, making him the first player to be suspended by the NFL during the season he was featured on the cover of the franchise.
Just two years in, and it’s starting to look like EA Sports UFC might have the same problem. Ever since Ronda Rousey and Conor McGregor landed their spots as the cover athletes of UFC 2, things have been going downhill. Ronda Rousey lost her match and bantamweight title to Holly Holm just one day after being announced as the cover athlete.
While Conor McGregor might have won a spot as the second cover athlete, the results of UFC 196 shocked everyone over the weekend as he lost to Nate Diaz in a welterweight match marking his first defeat in just under six years. That’s not a good season, that’s a good career for a man who’s only been fighting since 2007, which makes it hard to say that McGregor losing at welterweight was just a regression to the mean.
I’m not saying that this is definitive proof that EA Sports UFC is cursed, especially since McGregor was trying to fight outside of his own weight class where he had little experience. But it does put things into perspective. One loss over six years isn’t the same as one good or bad season like in football. Either way, Rousey and McGregor are both great fighters. McGregor still holds his titles, and while Rousey might have lost hers, shes’s still well regarded in the world of UFC.
It is worth noting, however, that the cover athletes of the last installment of EA Sports UFC faced misfortune as well. Jon Jones was stripped of his light heavyweight title, while Gustafsson has suffered a couple of devastating losses.
It’s hard to say whether or not EA Sports UFC is cursed, but one thing is for sure, the stars of UFC 2 have seen better days. Still, that hasn’t deterred McGregor from continuing to fight. It’ll be interesting to see where he goes next.
EA Sports UFC 2 will be available for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One starting on March 15; those who subscribe to EA Access can play a 10-hour trial of the full game prior to the game’s release on March 10.