TORONTO – He may be the baddest man on the planet but heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez won’t be gracing the cover of the UFC’s new video game.
Velasquez has been left off a fan vote list of 16 fighters to see who joins light-heavyweight title-holder Jon (Bones) Jones on the cover of “EA Sports UFC” after failing to come to terms with video game developer Electronic Arts.
“We are huge fans of Cain, but in order to participate in the cover vote, all participating athletes had to enter into a commercial agreement with EA Sports,” Shirley Chu, PR manager for EA Sports, said in an email.
“This is standard for any cover vote or sport-based promotion. Unfortunately, we were not able to get to commercial terms with him.
The UFC’s eight other champions did sign the dotted line: Jones, Demetrious Johnson (flyweight), Dominick Cruz (bantamweight), Jose Aldo (featherweight), Anthony Pettis (lightweight), Montreal’s Georges St-Pierre (welterweight), Chris Weidman (middleweight) and Ronda Rousey (women’s bantamweight).
The other candidates are Michael Bisping, Daniel Cormier, Ben Henderson, Johny Hendricks, Urijah Faber, Alex Gustafsson, Junior Dos Santos, Chael Sonnen and Miesha Tate.
The cover vote will run through Dec. 1, via a weekly head-to-head elimination tournament. Fans can make their picks at www.UFC.com/covervote.
EA Sports has used the cover vote concept for its other sports games.
Devils goalie Martin Brodeur was voted onto the cover of NHL 14. Hall of Famer running back Barry Sanders was the fans’ choice as cover athlete for “Madden NFL 25,” with 40 million votes cast.
Previous versions of the UFC video game were made by THQ, which featured Forrest Griffin, Brock Lesnar, Anderson Silva and St-Pierre on its game covers.
Silva was chosen by fan vote to front “UFC Undisputed 3.”
Jones is a logical choice for the EA game cover given he is ranked the UFC’s top pound-for-pound fighter.
“It’s a huge honour, man. It really is,” Jones said in an interview.
And the 26-year-old Jones is happy to share the cover.
“I think it’s a great idea. I’m really excited to see who the fans decide. it’s all in their hands.”
“Quite a selection to pick from,” he added. “It’s huge to see girls among this list of people that can be on the cover. To have a girl on the cover, man, I think that would even be cooler.”
The round-by-round matchups are:
— Rousey vs. Tate
— Faber vs. Bisping
— Pettis vs. Johnson
— St-Pierre vs. Weidman
— Hendricks vs. Cruz
— Aldo vs. Henderson
— Gustafsson vs. Cormier
— Dos Santos vs. Sonnen
The video game, currently under development at EA Canada in Vancouver, is slated for release in the spring for the Xbox One and PlayStation 4.
Making the cover of the video game was a goal for Jones, no stranger to gaming growing up with brothers Arthur and Chandler — both NFL players.
“It was out babysitter, it was our main entertainment,” the fighter said of video games.
Follow Neil Davidson on Twitter at @NeilMDavidson