The MMA community has been left stunned by the news that former UFC fighter Elias Theodorou died of cancer at just 34-years-old on Sunday, 11th September.
Theodorou was reportedly battling stage 4 liver cancer and had chosen to keep his diagnosis private, with only a few people knowing what he was really dealing with. At this stage it’s not clear exactly when the Canadian fighter had actually been diagnosed with the disease.
And the Canadian fighter had in fact won a fight at Colorado Combat Club 10 in December of last year against former Bellator fighter Bryan Baker. In hindsight that fight takes on more significance given that the 36-year-old Baker had also been diagnosed with cancer many years ago while fighting in Bellator, but had managed to continue competing for several years afterwards.
Theodorou had first arrived in the UFC with an 8-0 record via the The Ultimate Fighter: Nations series, winning the season with a TKO victory against Sheldon Westcott.
Theodorou would go on to compile an 8-3 record in the UFC, defeating the likes of Eryk Anders, Trevor Smith, Dan Kelly and Sam Alvey along the way, and as such it came as a surprise when he was released from the promotion in 2019 after a three-fight winning streak was broken by a decision loss to Derek Brunson.
At the time Dana White revealed that he’d been cut due to the fact it was unlikely he’d ever become a top-five fighter. Theodorou himself suggested that the real reason was his wage was too high, while others suggested that his fighting style, which relied heavily on his ability to outwork opponents with his superior cardio rather than his technical ability to win on the scorecards hadn’t appealed to the UFC brass.
Theodorou would go on to fight three more times on the regional circuit, picking up TKO wins over Hernani Perpetuo and Matt Dwyer in 2019, before his final win over Baker in 2021.
In addition to his overall 19-3 MMA career, Theodorou was also known for being the first fighter to be officially approved to have a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) for Marijuana in Canada in 2020, and then the U.S. in 2021. At the time this was suggested to have been in order to treat the pain and discomfort from having a nerve condition called bilateral neuropathy resulting from a broken hand.
Theodorou also became a ‘ring boy’ for all-female promotion Invicta FC and was a contestant on ‘The Amazing Race: Canada’ TV show in 2015.