UFC cover curse continues as Israel Adesanya dethroned just days after UFC 5 reveal

Jake Nichols
Adesanya from UFC 5Electronic Arts

The notorious UFC cover curse seems to have struck again, with Israel Adesanya losing the UFC Middleweight Championship just days after being unveiled as a UFC 5 cover athlete.

Despite entering the UFC 293 main event as a -650 betting favorite on most betting sites, Adesanya was outclassed by Sean Strickland over five rounds, losing by unanimous decision (49-46, 49-46, 49-46).

The timing of Adesanya’s loss is particularly eerie, given that he was just unveiled as the cover athlete for UFC 5’s Premium Edition earlier this week.

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This has reignited discussions around the so-called “EA curse,” a playful narrative suggesting that athletes who grace the covers of EA Sports games face subsequent misfortunes.

Strickland, the #5 ranked middleweight, showcased a masterclass in strategy and strength on his way to defeating Adesanya in what is regarded as a massive upset. He defended Adesanya’s attacks for five rounds, consistently pressuring him, and even managed to drop Adesanya in the first round with a heavy punch that had many believing the fight was over.

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The curse’s history is hard to ignore. After gracing the UFC 4 cover in 2020, Jorge Masvidal suffered a loss to Kamaru Usman. Conor McGregor, the face of UFC 3 in 2018, faced a crushing defeat against Khabib Nurmagomedov.

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Ronda Rousey, shortly before the release of UFC 2 in 2016, experienced a shocking knockout loss to Holly Holm in what is regarded as one of the greatest upsets in MMA history.

And Jon Jones, after appearing on the cover of EA Sports UFC in 2014, encountered legal troubles and was stripped of his title.

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The recent UFC 5 cover reveal faced criticism, with fans likening it to a “mobile game” knockoff.

The cover features featherweight champion Alexander “The Great” Volkanovski and former flyweight champion Valentina “Bullet” Shevchenko. Given the curse’s track record, fans are now anxiously waiting to see how they handle their next fights.

While some might brush off the idea of a curse as mere superstition, the series of unfortunate events following EA cover reveals is becoming hard to ignore.

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About The Author

Jake Nichols is a Senior Writer on the Australian Dexerto team. A "washed-up" competitive gamer with an economics degree, he has a unique angle on industry trends. When not writing, he's snapping away in Marvel Snap and hunting purple sector times in sim racing games. You can contact Jake at jake.nichols@dexerto.com