‘Grand Prix’ style mixed-martial-arts tournaments have frequently been used in the past in promotions such as Strikeforce, Pride and Rizin.
Most recently, Bellator MMA announced the return of the popular format to crown a heavyweight champion in 2018. Unfortunately for Bellator, they lack the roster depth to put together a truly competitive tournament bracket.
This would not be an issue for the Ultimate Fighting Championship. The UFC has the most stacked divisions in MMA but has never really implemented the tournament format other than in The Ultimate Fighter.
The UFC’s 170-pound division is arguably the most competitive weight division in the world with Tyron Woodley currently sat at the top of the mountain.
Using the power of EA Sports UFC 3, I attempted to create a UFC Welterweight Grand Prix to see who would be crowned the new champion of the world…
The UFC’s power rankings consist of the top 15 welterweight fighters in the world. Colby Covington is not on this year’s instalment, so instead, I used former welterweight champion, Georges St-Pierre, to spice up proceedings. 16 fighters were entered, and the bracket was drawn at random.
(C) – Tyron Woodley def. #11 Donald Cerrone via submission (R3)
#12 – Carlos Condit def. #4 – Robbie Lawler via decision
#8 – Kamara Usman def. #1 – Stephen Thompson via TKO (R3)
#3 – Georges St-Pierre def. #2 – Rafael Dos Anjos via TKO (R2)
#7 – Darren Till def. #13 – Gunnar Nelson via decision
#10 – Santiago Ponzinibbio def. #15 – Leon Edwards via TKO (R3)
#6 – Jorge Masvidal def. #9 – Neil Magny via TKO (R1)
#14 – Dong Hyun Kim def. #5 – Demian Maia via TKO (R3)
Current champion, Tyron Woodley, progresses to the next round following a late submission victory over Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone who survived multiple knockdowns before being caught in a guillotine. Carlos Condit avenged his split decision loss to Robbie Lawler by dumping the former champion out in the first round. GSP also moves to the quarter-finals following a late stoppage against the former lightweight champion, Rafael Dos Anjos. The shock of the prelims saw huge underdog, Dong Hyun Kim, knocking out former title challenger Demian Maia to set up a meeting with Jorge Masvidal.
(C) Tyron Woodley def. #12 Carlos Condit via TKO (R1)
#3 Georges St-Pierre def. #8 Kamaru Usman via TKO (R1)
#7 Darren Till def. #10 Santiago Ponzinibbio via decision
#6 Jorge Masvidal def. #14 Dong Hyun Kim via TKO (R1)
Condit’s win over Lawler set up another rematch this time with Woodley. They first met at UFC 171 with ‘The Chosen One’ causing the fight to be stopped after injuring Condit’s knee in the second round. Again, ‘The Natural Born Killer’ came up short, being stopped in the first following a huge uppercut. Kamaru Usman defeated Stephen Thompson but was knocked out in the first round by GSP. Kim could not defy the odds yet again as he was also finished in round one by ‘Gamebred’ while Darren Till cruised to another decision win to send Santiago Ponzinibbio home.
(c) Tyron Woodley def. Georges St-Pierre via KO (R3)
#7 Darren Till def. #6 Jorge Masvidal via submission (R1)
After vacating the middleweight title, rumours have circulated that GSP will return to welterweight in the near future and Woodley has been calling for the fight to happen. In our grand prix, Woodley gets his wish although the title will not be on the line. ‘The Chosen One’ was victorious via third-round TKO to secure his place in the final where he will attempt to defend his title. He will face Liverpool-born Till who submitted Masvidal in the first round, securing an armbar after a knockdown to challenge for the belt.
UFC Welterweight Grand Prix Final
(C) Tyron Woodley vs. #7 Darren Till
Woodley will attempt to defend his title for the fourth time with Till challenging for UFC gold for the very first time. Woodley has defeated Cerrone, Condit and GSP to reach the final while the Scouser has had a much more comfortable route by defeating Gunnar Nelson, Ponzinibbio and Masvidal.
Heading into the third round, both fighters had scored knockdowns in an extremely close fight. Till’s striking was causing Woodley problems who looked for the takedown by pushing him against the fence. Again, Woodley shot but was clipped on entry with a huge left hand. Wobbled, Till stormed across the cage and connected with another left hook which floored the reigning champ. After some follow up strikes on the mat, Herb Dean had seen enough, and we have a new welterweight champion.
Darren Till def. Tyron Woodley via TKO (R3)
So there you have it, Darren Till wins our welterweight grand prix after defeating Tyron Woodley in the final to claim the strap. Let us know your thoughts on our simulation and who you think would win a hypothetical welterweight tournament.