On Friday, Electronic Arts announced that its new mixed martial arts video game, EA Sports UFC 2, will feature undefeated UFC champion Ronda Rousey on its cover.
Rousey’s no stranger to being a cover model, having appeared as one in magazines like SELF, Maxim, and Sports Illustrated in recent months. But being a woman on the global cover of a video game—particularly one about fighting—is an entirely different accomplishment.
This is the first time that a female athlete has been featured on an EA Sports global cover, though other women have been featured—alongside men—in the past. These include tennis greats Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova (featured along with John McEnroe), and FIFA stars Alex Morgan, Christine Sinclair and Stephanie Catley (with Lionel Messi).
“As a gamer myself, it’s pretty surreal to be on the cover of the game and to have a woman on the cover of a UFC game shows a lot of progress. I’m really happy to be involved with it,” Rousey said in a statement. In addition to having a female fighter on the cover of the game, UFC 2 will allow players to play as women in the game’s career mode for the first time.
This shift towards female fans hasn’t come out of nowhere; Rousey is the most dominant and recognized fighter in the world, according to a statement by the UFC.
EA’s announcement comes just as MMA fans everywhere are anticipating Rousey’s fight against Holly Holm this weekend at UFC 193, which is co-headlined by the women’s strawweight fight. The event is expected to break the all-time attendance record for the UFC, according to MMAFighting.com. Yes, that’s right: An event with two women’s matches headlining is supposed to draw the biggest crowd in the sport’s history.
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