Toronto’s Elias Theodorou gears up for UFC Fight Night in Ottawa
Elias Theodorou has a big opportunity on the table when he comes to Ottawa this Saturday for UFC Fight Night. The 30 year old made his octagon debut in 2014, and just five years later has earned an impressive 16-2 professional record. Now he’s looking to break the top ten in the world for middleweight rankings.
The Toronto native has created a fun online brand for himself, adopting the nickname The Mane Event as he is known for his luscious long hair. His resume also includes much more than fighting; Theodorou has a diploma in advertising from Humber College, appearances on Amazing Race Canada and Big Brother Canada, a partnership with a shampoo company, and has even found time to play a few lead roles in upcoming films. The 185 pound athlete is not just fighting inside the ring, but is using his platform and reach to change regulations for the medical equality of athletes.
We had the chance to chat with him during fight camp, and it’s very clear he will be ready to get to work when he’s at the Canadian Tire Centre this weekend.
How did you get your start in mixed martial arts?
Unlike many in my sport, I started martial arts later in life. As I was enlightening my mind in university, I thought the body should follow. Soon, I realized they were intertwined. Now, I am ten years into my martial arts career and training, looking to fight for a top ten ranking in the world for my division.
You grew up in Mississauga but MMA has taken you to cities all over the world. You finally had the opportunity to fight in front of your hometown crowd against Eryk Anders at Scotiabank Arena in December and came out on top. How did it feel to fight and win in front of all your friends and family?
The “Fighters Journey” is what drew me to martial arts as a career…the ability to train and travel the world in the pursuit of competition and experiences as a fighter. But the ability to bring it all back home was extra special. Beyond myself, and friends and family, it seems I am meeting one of 17 thousand fans that saw it at ScotiaBank as well to this day. Means a lot to share a special moment of my life as a person and fighter and to be told how much it meant to them as well. Means the world.
You’ve been in an ongoing struggle with USADA to allow the use of medical cannabis leading up to your fights. Under the UFC’s anti-doping program, Theodorou is free to use marijuana in the period USADA considers out-of-competition, which is within six hours of weigh-in and six hours after a fight.You were once again denied a therapeutic-use exemption before your last fight. Tell us about the health benefits you gain from THC and why it is so important to you as an athlete.
The window of time I am forced to sustain from cannabis is much longer than 6 hours. The testing includes cannabis a week prior, and is based on a .150 nanogram threshold. It usually takes two weeks to be sure, but because of the different body types, female athletes are subject to a longer tail period because statistically speaking they have a higher fat % which cannabis is tested from. THC in cannabis allows me to manage my bilateral neuropathic pain, instead of using first line medications like SSRI’s, antidepressants and a number of opioids I am currently forced to use. Not only are they not effective in treating my condition, but the side-effects make it even worse. For example, a prescription pill like Lyrica makes me bloated, constipated and resulted in 12 pounds weight gain in a week. Not the ideal conditions for a high level athlete set to compete. My TUE (Therapeutic Use Exemption) was not accepted, but I will continue to push forward until my medical equality is accepted.
Are you trying to resubmit an application before your fight here in Ottawa on May 4th?
Unfortunately, because of the longer-than-expected, bureaucratic process I will not be getting my resubmission in time, but remain committed to my TUE application and fight against the current stigma towards medical cannabis inside the cage and out. It’s just unfortunate that so much of the process seems to be “take more pills” and prove it doesn’t work for you. Beyond my own condition, the side-effects multiply the competitive disadvantage and burden I carry each day as both patient and athlete.
You’re currently ranked #14 in the world for official UFC middleweight. Who has been a role model for you as you’ve continued to develop your craft in MMA?
My role model in MMA has always been Anderson Silva. What he was able to do during his reign as UFC middleweight champ was truly amazing. He moved like a ninja and carried himself like a true martial artist warrior. Moreover, it is quite a trip to see I am currently ahead of my idol in the rankings and will be even higher once I beat my next opponent Derek Brunson, currently ranked eighth in the world. Very exciting times and seems everything comes full circle in some regards.
What are foods you would never eat during fight camp?
Junk food is out the window for the last two months, and by the last month you start restricting your carb intake for sure. It is the worst thing in the world, but you feel healthy and are earning that big craving you sometimes want after a big win. Makes it all that much sweeter.
What’s one of your favourite walk out songs?
My go to song has been “O’Canada” By Classified. Love repping this song and my country every time I step into the cage.
Any advice for aspiring UFC fighters?
Always think the long game. Longevity in any sport is a necessity.
Do you have any fight day rituals you always do?
Try and be as happy as I can. Not sweat the little things. The team and I go through the motions of fight week, and that’s a ritual, but it’s most important to do it all with a smile. Go team!
Lastly, any favourite things to do when you come to Ottawa?
Love being around Parliament and in our Nation’s Capital. I sense its importance, and soon will be my second time tasting victory on Ottawa soil under the UFC banner.