How does a fighter who is on top stay in shape when he knows no one can beat him? Without competition, it becomes a mental battle just to stay in fighting form. I feel like the UFC Undisputed series must be wrestling with this mentality. Sure, EA has its own MMA title coming down the pipe, but it’s still an unknown quantity at this point. In the meantime, THQ’s fighter remains king of the mixed martial arts jungle, but it feels a bit like a lazy lion.

Like THQ’s other wrestling title, it’s hard to know where to start with Undisputed. There are so many modes to explore that Undisputed 2010 will easily keep UFC fans occupied all year. Ultimate Fights mode is probably my favorite, as it lets players reenact famous fights from UFC history, complete with Pay-Per-View interviews and achievement-style challenges that will drive you to keep playing matches over and over until you unlock every reward. You can even set up your own cards, so you can finally fulfill those dream match-ups you’ve fantasized about for years.

Of course, the career mode is still here for those who want to mold a fighter from scratch. Starting from the bottom is still a long, hard grind, and you’ll have to plow through several dozen fights before your fighter has enough experience to feel like he’s worth his weight in protein powder. I like that I’m no longer locked into any particular fighting discipline and can freely choose moves from multiple schools, but the career story still isn’t very compelling, so you have to love this kind of menu-driven stat boosting if you’re going to sink your teeth into the career.

Still, the in-ring action is what matters the most, and Undisputed 2010 tightens what was already a solid brawler. The new combo system – or lack thereof, since there are no pre-determined combo strings – means you have to experiment to find out what punches and kicks work best together and how far you can push your fighter before he becomes fatigued. This makes the action feel more natural, bringing each bout that much closer to the real thing. It’s probably the closest a game has ever come to making you feel like you are actually practicing a martial art, just without the sweating.

While it may sound like Undisputed has a lot going for it this year, none of the additions add up to much. This doesn’t feel vastly different from last year’s model, which is my biggest complaint. If you’re a UFC fan and you didn’t pick up Undisputed 2009, this is definitely a superior product. But if you still have your copy of ‘09 you probably won’t find enough fresh meat on these bones to satisfy you