Former UFC fighter Elias Theodorou has tragically died of cancer, aged just 34. The Canadian had been battling stage 4 liver cancer with only a select few people knowing the truth about his illness.
An MMA veteran, he competed in 22 bouts, beginning his career with 11 successive victories before moving to the UFC where he had an 8-3 record.
Having made his professional debut in 2011, Theodorou earned a UFC contract by winning The Ultimate Fighter in 2014.
He recorded some high-profile victories in his career after coming out on top against the likes of Eryk Anders, Dan Kelly, Cezar Ferreira and Sam Alvey.
He became known for being an advocate for the use of medicinal marijuana in combat sports and made made history by becoming the first fighter to receive a therapeutic use exemption for medical cannabis that was granted by the British Columbia Athletic Commission.
Following a loss to Derek Brunson in 2019, he was released by the promotion before going on to compete in Prospect Fighting Championships.
His last fight came in December last year when he beat Bryan Baker by unanimous decision at Colorado Combat Club 10.
Sadly, ten months after that most recent win, he has died.
Since news of his death emerged, stories of his charismatic personality have been shared, including the time he was a ‘ring boy’ for all-female organisation Invicta in 2018.
“RIP Elias Theodorou,” Jeff Novitzky, the vice president of athlete health and performance at the UFC said. “A great person and a HUGE voice for the more fair and equitable treatment of marijuana use in MMA and sport.”
Thiago Santos, who handed Theodorou his first MMA defeat said it was hard to take in.
Writing on Twitter, he said: “I can’t believe! Terrible news! RIP my friend Elias Theodorou it was a pleasure to share the octagon with you, my brother.”
Elias Theodorou Biography
Canadian mixed martial artist Elias Michael Theodorou (May 31, 1988 – September 11, 2022) passed away. He won The Ultimate Fighter Nations: Canada vs. Australia while competing for the UFC in the Middleweight category, where he was ranked 13th at the time of his departure. In January 200, he became the first professional athlete in North America to be granted a cannabis therapeutic use exemption.
Greek-born Theodorou was reared in Mississauga, Ontario, and went to Meadowvale Secondary School. He attended Humber College to obtain a B.A. in Creative Advertising, but after his first year there, Theodorou decided to enrol in MMA lessons as a form of exercise before deciding to make MMA his career. The British Columbia Athletic Commission granted Theodorou the first sanctioned exemption for medicinal cannabis (TUE) in sport on February 19, 2020, making him the first MMA fighter and professional athlete in history.
Mixed martial arts career
The Ultimate Fighter
Theodorou would be a cast member on The Ultimate Fighter Nations: Canada vs. Australia, representing Canada at Middleweight, it was revealed in December 2013. He overcame Tyler Manawaroa in the semifinals after defeating Zein Saliba in the quarterfinals. He traveled to Phuket Province, Thailand after the semifinals to train at Tiger Muay Thai with coach Patrick Côté.
Ultimate Fighting Championship
Theodorou won the Middleweight division at The Ultimate Fighter Nations Finale by technical knockout in the second round over MFC veteran Sheldon Westcott.
Theodorou faced Bruno Santos on October 4, 2014 at UFC Fight Night 54. He prevailed by unanimous judgment in the match.
On March 14, 2015, Roger Narvaez and Theodorou squared off at UFC 185. Following a first round in which Narvaez appeared to be in control, Narvaez attempted to block a kick from Theodorou in the second round and broke his arm. Shortly after, Theodorou was able to stop the fight via TKO with a barrage of blows.
On December 10, 2015, Thiago Santos and Theodorou squared off at UFC Fight Night 80.
He was defeated in the fight by a consensus vote.
At UFC Fight Night 89 on June 18, 2016, Theodorou took on Sam Alvey.
Both fighters were unable to muster much offensive, thus the battle was relatively uneventful and stayed on the feet for almost the whole time. He prevailed by unanimous judgment in the match.
On February 19, 2017, Theodorou fought Cezar Ferreira at UFC Fight Night 105.
He prevailed via contentious unanimous decision.
At The Ultimate Fighter 25 Finale on July 7, 2017, Theodorou fought Brad Tavares. He was defeated in the fight by a consensus vote.
On November 19, 2017, Theodorou and Dan Kelly squared off at UFC Fight Night 121.
He obtained a unanimous victory.
At UFC Fight Night 130 on May 27, 2018, Theodorou fought Trevor Smith. He prevailed by unanimous judgment in the match.
Theodorou was scheduled to compete against Antônio Carlos Jnior at UFC Fight Night 137 on September 22, 2018.
Jnior withdrew on August 28 owing to an injury, though.
The fight was anticipated to be rescheduled for December 8 at UFC 231 with the same matchup.
On September 13, 2018, it was revealed that Jnior has once again been forced to pull out of his fight with Theodorou due to the need for surgery on the injury that had forced him to postpone their initial meeting. Jnior was reportedly replaced by Eryk Anders on October 1st, 2018. The bout was decided by a fiercely contested split decision in favor of Theodorou.
On May 4, 2019, Derek Brunson and Theodorou squared off at UFC Fight Night 151.
He was defeated in the fight by a consensus vote.
Theodorou was reportedly let go by the UFC on May 26, 2019.
Theodorou faced Hernani Perpetuo at Prospect Fighting Championships 12 on December 6, 2019, in the first match following the UFC’s release. Through a TKO in the third round, he prevailed.
On March 13, 2021, Theodorou and Matt Dwyer, both UFC veterans, squared up at Rise FC 6. Technical knockout in the third round gave him the victory.
On December 18, 2021, at Colorado Combat Club 10, Theodorou faced Bryan Baker.
He prevailed by unanimous decision in the fight.
At the age of 34, Theodorou passed away from liver cancer on September 11, 2022.
5 Things You Might Not Know About Elias Theodorou
As we approach the contest, here are five things that you might not know about the man they call “The Spartan.”
He has worked as a model.
When the good-looking pugilist is not honing his fighting skills, he works as a model. The Ontario native specializes in hair, and his long flowing locks are in demand. Theodorou is currently the North American brand ambassador for Pert Shampoo. He’s previously lauded his hair as the best in mixed martial arts. However, being a model clearly goes against his chosen profession. “It’s obviously a concern that one broken nose could damage my face,” said Theodorou.
He won ‘The Ultimate Fighter.’
In 2014, “The Spartan” competed on “The Ultimate Fighter Nations: Canada vs Australia.” Having bested Zein Saliba in the quarterfinal by decision, he got the judges nod over Tyler Manawaroa in the semi-final, which qualified him for the season’s finale. His first official UFC contest was opposite Sheldon Westcott and Theodorou emerged victorious via TKO in the second round. With the success, the newly crowned champion earned himself a contract with the promotion and he won his next two UFC clashes.
He more often than not wins by decision.
Theodorou has not won a match by stoppage since his UFC 185 bout against Roger Narvaez. Across his career to date, nine of the Canadian’s victories have come by way of decision. This is not surprising since Theodorou’s preferred fighting style consists of the cerebral combatant engaging his opponents on the feet. There, the elusive pugilist employs quick footwork and pinpoint striking.
Theodorou best summed up his attitude towards fighting by saying, “The best thing about winning a fight is not looking like you got in a fight.”
He has been in several television series.
In addition to “The Ultimate Fighter Nations,” Theodorou has appeared in “The Listener” and “The Amazing Race Canada.” The latter, a reality series which aired in 2015, saw the MMA combatant and his girlfriend compete against other teams in a range of sport-themed challenges. Following his elimination from the show in the first round, Theodorou said, “Our goal was not to die and not to look dumb.”
Last year the Canadian combatant made the move to the silver screen with his role in the comedy “Last Hit,” in which he plays a retired MMA fighter turned esports competitor.
He has never been finished.
Across 18 professional contests, it has proven difficult for opponents to catch Theodorou with clean shots. His only two career setbacks have come via decision. They were against Thiago Santos at UFC Fight Night 80 and Brad Tavares at “The Ultimate Fighter” 25 Finale.