EA Sports UFC 2 is a game that does its damnedest to imitate every element of the UFC broadcast experience (except for the weird part where it pretends commentator Mike Goldberg knows what he’s talking about). By and large, it works. It’s in the particulars that EA falters.
Khabib Nurmagomedov is a UFC lightweight fighter known for a few things: 1) His punishing pace, which he used to thrash current lightweight champ Rafael dos Anjos for three rounds, 2) his laundry list of injuries, the reason he hasn’t fought in almost two years, and 3) his Muslim faith, which has led him to do things like avoid fights during the month of Ramadan. In EA Sports UFC 2, EA flubbed that last part pretty hard.
When Nurmagomedov wins in the game, his victory celebration involves him gesturing in the shape of a cross. It’s a canned animation other characters perform as well, but it’s something the real Nurmagomedov would pretty much never do. Upon discovering this, he was not pleased. He took to Twitter and Instagram — as opposed to his usual outlet, a small army of men’s faces — to vent his frustrations:
I'm a MUSLIM and not Baptized. Please @EASPORTSUFC edit my after fight celebration. I have a lot of Muslim fans and you have to respect it.
— khabib nurmagomedov (@TeamKhabib) March 19, 2016
Fortunately, EA plans to rectify the mistake in an upcoming update. They messaged Nurmagomedov to let him know (via Bloody Elbow):
Я мусульманин.Алхамдулиллагь. Я не имею ничего против Христиан, у каждого человека свой путь в этой жизни, а мой путь это – Ислам. Разработчики этой игры сделали ошибку, но давайте будем честны, все мы ошибаемся в этой жизни и я не держу на них зла, они извинились и пообещали исправить это. Надеюсь следующий раз они учтут какая религия у каждого бойца и не допустят таких ошибок в будущем. I'm Muslim, Alhamdulilah. I have nothing against Christians. Every man in this life has his own way, and my way is Islam. Developers of the game made mistake. Let's be honest, every human being made mistakes, and I'm not holding a grudge. They apologized and promised to fix it. Hopefully, next time they wouldn't make mistakes like this, and take account everybody's religion. @easportsufc @ufc
So there we go. All’s well that ends well.
It is interesting, though, that a game dedicated to capturing fighters’ idiosyncrasies in some ways (entrances, celebrations, physiques, fighting styles… sometimes sorta) would drop the ball on something like this. Clearly, EA meant no ill will here, but it’s always jarring to see the gaps in the EA Sports UFC dev team’s MMA knowledge — not to mention their priorities and, perhaps, budget for certain fighters versus other more popular ones. I get the impression that making these games has definitely been a learning experience for some members of the dev team. Oh well, I suppose practice makes perfect.