UFC 3 Gameplay Update #5

See the full list of EA SPORTS UFC 3 updates on Xbox One and PS4. Available April 26, 2018.


For starters, thank you to everyone who has been playing EA SPORTS UFC 3 and contributing feedback on the gameplay, fighters, and ratings changes you would like to see happen in game. We take your feedback seriously and have made key updates to various areas of the game, including: countering off head movement, slipping the jab, height dependent ducking, how range affects back swaying, balancing “sway n' pray”, and much more. 

See which prospects enter the Octagon with UFC 3 Content Update #5

In-Depth Gameplay Updates

Head Movement

Gameplay update #5 brings with it some significant changes to how head movement works in the game. This will likely be the biggest change to the meta since launch, and as such understanding the details of these changes will be extremely important for players who want to remain competitive.

Head Movement and Combinations

The single biggest change to head movement is in how it interacts with combinations. Prior to this content update, successfully slipping a strike would give you a guaranteed window of 36 frames in which you were safe to throw a counter strike. Now, the type of strike you evade and how you evade it will give different results, which provide you with different levels of safety.

Successfully evading a jab will no longer provide you with a safe counter striking window. This means that if you successfully slip a jab, throwing a counter strike will leave you open for potentially getting hit with a follow up strike that was thrown in combination with the jab.


For example, if I slip a jab-straight combination and go to throw a hook, the straight is likely going to land before the hook, preventing my counter strike from successfully landing.

This makes a combination off of a jab a really strong deterrent to people abusing head movement.

If you successfully evade a straight, you will get a window of 20 frames to land a counter strike. This is enough time to capitalize with a faster counter, but not enough time to be considered safe. So strike selection in this case will be important.

Finally, if you evade any other type of strike (uppercut, hook, etc.) you will get a window of 36 frames in which to safely land a counter strike. This is the same behavior you’ve come to expect prior to this content update. So, evading a power strike is still very safe and rewarding, however evading jabs and straights does not provide the same safety.


Dealing with the Jab

With these changes, the jab becomes much more powerful as a leading strike. With the ability to slip and counter the jab diminished, it’s important to understand what options you have for dealing with it if you have successfully evaded one.


The first and safest option is to block the strike that follows the jab after successfully slipping it. This functionality is new with this content update. You are now able to block your head as you return to center after successfully evading a strike using head movement. So, if you slip a jab and are unsure if you will be able to counter it in time, you always have the option to block any follow up strike. One exception to this is with the back sway. You are only able to block a round strike (hooks, head kicks, etc.) while returning to center after a successful back slip. This was done to balance the strength of the back slip as it relates to other changes detailed below.



The next safest option is to counter a slipped jab with a straight of your own. The counter strikes off of slips have been sped up in this content update, to the point where a slipping straight is likely to beat most strikes thrown in combination. As you strike speed diminishes with reduced stamina, this may not always be the case, but the speed of the slipping straight gives you the safest counter option and should work against most follow up strikes.



Finally, if you have a high level of confidence that your opponent is going to throw a particular combination, you can chain multiple slips together to avoid both strikes. The speed and effectiveness of chained head movement has been greatly improved with this content update to make sure that consecutive slips are an effective strategy for punishing predictable combinations, especially when initiated using a jab.



Prior to this content update, ducking was the single most effective way in which to move your head.  It successfully evaded or mitigated all strike types except for uppercuts and leg kicks. Players had come to rely on these properties to the point where ducking was a little too prevalent in the game and was considered by many players to be over powered.

This content update includes some important changes to better balance ducking with the other defensive options, while making its representation in the game much more realistic.

With these changes to ducking, the height of the fighters will now play a much more significant role in the effectiveness of the duck. In order for the duck to be successful, the fighters head will have had to go lower than the opponents shoulder as measured when the opponent is standing in their idle pose with the lead arm extended.


If a hook lands to the head of a ducking fighter who hasn’t met these height requirements, the hook will still land, but it will land higher on their head and not interrupt the duck animation. But it won’t counter as an evaded strike either.

If a straight punch lands the head of a ducking fighter who hasn’t met these height requirements, the punch will interrupt the duck.

This makes timing and height much more significant factors in how successful the duck will be, to the point where an extreme height different (think Struve vs. Cormier) will render the duck a completely ineffective tool for the taller fighter.


Back Sways

To balance out the changes to ducking, which makes evading hooks much more difficult (especially for taller fighters) we’ve improved the ability for the back sway to evade hooks and uppercuts.

Prior to this content update, the effectiveness of back sway was highly dependent on range. Back slipping standing a hook or uppercut would work from punching range, but from the same range a forward moving hook or uppercut would land.


After this content update, the back sway will now always evade a hook or an uppercut, regardless of range. This makes the back sway the go to slip direction for avoiding hooks.

To make sure the back sway wasn’t too powerful, we made a few other changes.

The first was in the ability to block while returning to center. As described earlier, you will only be able to block the side of your head while returning to center after a successful back slip. You will be open to straights and uppercuts.  

Related to this, any uppercut to straight combo will not be slowed down when evaded with a back sway. This means the lead uppercut to rear straight combination would be evaded by a back sway, but would return back into the straight unless first chained to a side sway.


Major/Minor Head Movement

The final changes to head movement are related to the controls, with the addition of the concept of major and minor head movement.

Starting with this content update, there are now two styles of head movement, each with their own sets of animations and control inputs.


With a light flick of the right stick, your fighter will now use minor head movement.  These are new animations that don’t move the head as far off the center line, use less stamina, expose the fighter to less vulnerability, allow for faster counter strikes but are more difficult to pull off.


With a slightly longer press of the right stick, your fighter will now use major head movement. These use the same animations that were in the game prior to the content update, but use more stamina, expose the fighter to more vulnerability, and allow for slower counter strikes. They are generally easy to pull off compared to their minor counterparts.  Each head movement direction has different properties to differentiate major and minor.

The minor duck will not move the head down very far at all. In fact, the minor duck will really only be useful for fighters who are considerably shorter than their opponent. In any other situation, the only effective duck will be the major duck, which is similar to the duck you have been using prior to this content update.

The minor back sway will still be range dependent vs. forward moving hooks and uppercuts, where the major back say will always work against a hook or an uppercut. The minor back sway will never explicitly evade a straight trajectory strike, where the major back sway can evade straight trajectory strikes if the range requirements are met.

The minor side sway is more timing sensitive and will not sustain automatically when input in advance of a strike. The major side sway is more forgiving in terms of timing and behaves the same as the side sways before the content update.

The stamina tax on head movement has been redesigned, with the standing minor costing the least, followed by standing major, moving minor and moving major costing the most.

In general, the minor head movement gives you a lower risk option to use when trying to evade your opponent’s strikes but requires more skill and timing with which to be effective.


Sway n’ Pray

Another change to head movement is something we’ve done to try and eliminate what the community has coined “sway n’ pray,” which is the practice of initiating every exchange with a slip followed immediately by a strike in an attempt to fish for counters. Aside from being unrealistic, this tactic forced players into a 50/50 and was really hurting the balance of the standup game.

To curtail this practice, we’ve made some significant changes to the stopping power of strikes that follow a slip that didn’t evade a strike.  We’ve refer to these as “empty slip strikes.”

If an empty slip strike lands first against a regular strike, the empty slip strike will have zero stopping power. This means the regular strike will still come out, regardless of the timing of when the empty slip strike lands. The regular strike will then land during the recovery frames of the empty slip strike.


We’ve also tuned the vulnerability so the empty slip strike is just a little bit more vulnerable than the regular strike, so as to ensure that the regular strike will always win the exchange in terms of damage done, when traded with a strike of equal or lower power.

This makes it easy to punish someone who is initiating every exchange with an empty slip strike. It also makes it very important to confirm evasion before throwing a strike out of a slip, for risk of taking extra damage.

One of the most dangerous things to do after this content update is to recklessly slip and then strike, especially at low stamina. You expose yourself to more vulnerability if the slip is unsuccessful and that damage can add up quickly.


Evasive Movement

In an effort to help people create space against overly aggressive opponents, we’ve added some new footwork tools in the form of a faster evasive movement option.


By holding R1 and R2 and pressing away from your opponent with the left stick, you will now retreat at an increased pace, with your arm out to maintain distance. Any strikes your opponent throws and misses while you are doing this count as wiffed strikes, not evaded strikes, and there are no counter bonuses applied.  This is simply meant as a way of relieving pressure and resetting to kicking range when faced with overwhelming forward pressure.

This action does cost extra stamina, so it is something you will have to use sparingly. And it will not work at all when your back is against the cage or when you are in a health event.  A forward sprinting fighter will still be able to catch someone using this new movement option.

You can think of this as a backwards moving sprint of sorts.


Back Lunges and Straight Intercepts


We’ve made another small change to back lunges to further empower evasive footwork. If a back lunge gets intercepted with a straight punch, it will no longer be interrupted. The strike will still land and do damage, but the lunge will be allowed to complete, and the backwards momentum of the fighter preserved.


Front Kicks and Sways


Another change in the spirit of giving players more tools for outside fighting, we’ve fixed a bug that prevented the full push hit reaction from playing when a front kick to the body landed while a fighter was swaying. This change should help players who use the front kicks to create and maintain distance.


Catch Kick Counter Punch Block

You will now be able to block the counter strike that follows a catch kick. However, it will only be a partial block that protects you from half the damage. The other half of the damage will still bleed through the block.


This should make body kicks a little less risky to throw, but will also open up the mix up between counter punching, tripping and takedowns off the catch kick.


Leg Damage and Grapple Advantage

We’ve made changes to how leg damage affects grapple advantage. Before this content update, current leg damage would grant grapple advantage, but long term damage did not.

We’ve changed that so that long term leg damage now plays a role, meaning investing in leg kicks, or checking your opponents leg kicks, will allow you to take your opponent down much easier in the later rounds.

Conversely, a grappler who eats too many leg kicks will have a much harder time completing takedowns in the later rounds.


AI Updates

  • Add seven new fighter customizations and apply existing customizations to numerous templated fighters
  • Reduce frequency of sweeps on the ground from standup-oriented AIs
  • Re-tune AI submission competency on attack and defense on all difficulties
  • Allow AI to perform correct evasion at the wrong time, mimicing users
  • Increase blocks vs. slips, and increase leg catches
  • Greatly increase grapple-oriented AIs tendency to takedown after catch-kicks
  • Increase grapple-oriented AIs tendency to takedown after successful defense
  • Improve AIs cage awareness
  • Add tuning tendency for using strikes vs. denials to stop transitions
  • Greatly improve AIs logic for defending takedowns in the clinch/standup
  • Remove the ability for boxing-oriented AIs to throw as many kicks while at range
  • Reduce tendency for AI to spam takedowns from certain clinch positions
  • Split AI strike targetting tendencies for kicks vs punches
  • Allow AI to make proper use of new major/minor slips
  • Fix various holes in AI logic causing AI to idle unintentionally


Check out these advanced tips and tricks to improve your skills and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to stay up to date on all things EA SPORTS UFC 3.

Related News

UFC on ESPN+ 1 Cejudo vs. Dillashaw Preview

Jan 15, 2019
The flyweight belt is on the line.

UFC 3 2018 Fight Simulations – EA SPORTS™ Official Site

Jan 11, 2019
Check out all of the UFC 3 fight simulations from 2018 and see how the results stacked up.

UFC 232 Simulation – Jon Jones vs. Alexander Gustafsson

Dec 28, 2018
Get ready for the rematch at UFC 232.
Home Overview New Features News Get UFC 3 facebook twitter instagram youtube Browse Games Latest News Help Center About Us Careers United States United Kingdom Australia France Deutschland Italia 日本 Polska Brasil Россия España Mexico 香港 Legal Online Service Updates User Agreement NEW Privacy & Cookie Policy