Mixed martial artist and Mississauga native Elias Theodorou is riding a three-fight win streak in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), his sport’s most reputable promotion. But despite a steadily rising stock, Theodorou is keeping his camp at home.
Theodorou was training at his home gym, Headrush Training Centre, recently in preparation for his upcoming fight against Brazil’s Thiago Santos. The mixed martial artist made the North York gym his training base in 2012, five fights into a career that blossomed soon after. When asked about his experience at Headrush, Theodorou was quick to mention its family-oriented atmosphere, championed by head trainer and former amateur boxer Ryan Grant.
“You have RG (Ryan Grant) who’s a welcoming individual and he treats you like family if you put your time in. He gives what you give and he gives his heart all the way through,” Theodorou said.
Boasting an 11-0 record and competing in the world’s foremost mixed martial arts (MMA) promotion, Theodorou’s journey through the sport’s ranks has been swifter than most. Theodorou is 27, though the average age of his 185-pound weight class is 31. While most of his colleagues spend near lifetimes competing in MMA-related disciplines, Theodorou didn’t begin training until age 21 following his first year in Creative Advertising at Humber College.
After the UFC held tryouts in Toronto for its Ultimate Fighter Nations TV series in September of 2013, Theodorou, then 8-0 and having fought almost exclusively in Canada, was chosen as one of four middleweight contestants. He went on to win the series tournament with a second-round TKO over fellow Canadian Sheldon Westcott. The victory netted The Spartan, a six-figure contract with the promotion.
“That fight was everything in the sense that it kind of came full circle in regards to why I entered (mixed) martial arts,” Theodorou said.
“I saw the first Ultimate Fighter with Stephan Bonnar and Forrest Griffin. I took that all in and just like the millions of people that watched it, was in awe. A little bit later I stepped into my first martial arts tournament and as they say, the rest is history.”
Theodorou’s upcoming fight against Santos will be his fourth in the UFC and his first since March of this year. Competing in a sport that demands mastery of a variety of disciplines as opposed to the prototypical early 90s MMA populated by specialists, Theodorou’s style is built on crisp striking, takedowns and solid cardio, the latter an important asset in bouts that go the distance.
Known to maintain an elevated pace during his fights, the Mississauga native has been dubbed the ‘Cardio King’ by the UFC. Facing a fighter with six first-round knockouts in 11 career victories, Theodorou’s style makes for a polarizing match-up against Santos.
Theodorou is scheduled to fight Santos on December 10th in Las Vegas at UFC Fight Night 80.