Former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) middleweight Elias Theodorou, who made a name for himself on The Ultimate Fighter: “Nations” combat sports reality show, passed away on Sunday (Sept. 11) at age 34 after quietly battling Stage 4 liver cancer.
Theodorou’s passing was first reported by TSN’s Aaron Bronsteter.
The Canadian middleweight finished his mixed martial arts (MMA) career with a respectable 19-3 record and was 8-3 under the UFC banner before his eventual release following an uneventful loss to Derek Brunson at UFC Fight Night 151 back in May 2019.
Theodorou had long been a vocal campaigner for the medical usage of marijuana in the sport of MMA and was the first competitor in all of North America to achieve his long-held goal of gaining a therapeutic use exemption (TUE) for cannabis. Following an accident that left his hand broken in two places and fractured in four, he suffered from bilateral neuropathy, which is nerve damage in his upper extremities.
Years of campaigning and fighting through legal morass left him victorious in the Canadian province of British Columbia, which sanctioned his usage of marijuana as a pain medicine to treat the lingering effects of the neuropathy. Colorado later followed suit.
After his UFC run, Theodorou fought and won three times on the regional circuit. His last opponent, Bryan Baker, is also a cancer survivor, as he was diagnosed with leukemia back in 2010. Theodorou was known for his work with Invicta Fighting Championships as the sport’s first “ring boy,” bringing a sense of levity and equality to what is one of the silliest aspects of combat sports.
Theodorou will be remembered for those two bits of groundbreaking and trailblazing, but it’s also worth noting that I’ve never heard anyone once have anything bad to say about “The Spartan.” In a sport rife with participants who face legal troubles and have existed on the fringes due to a whole host of reasons, Theodorou was universally liked as a person and an advocate. MMA lost one of its genuinely nice people and it’s a bit worse off today than it was yesterday.