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Elias “theSpartan” Theodorou

Canadian MMA fans are no strangers to excellence. From the first Canadian UFC champion, Carlos Newton, to heavy hitters such as Patrick Côté, from the dominant, five­year­plus welterweight championship reign of Georges St­Pierre to the emergence of heir apparent Rory MacDonald, the Great White North has produced elite mixed martial artists the equal of traditional powerhouses and founders America, Brazil and Japan. In fact, so exuberant has the red and white nation’s love, and support, of MMA been that no less an authority than UFC President Dana White once declared Canada “the mecca of the UFC.”

With a lineage of great warriors and the nation’s undying support, it’s little surprise, then, that a ravenous, young breed of fresh, driven, incredibly skilled athletes are taking the UFC, and MMA, by storm. Leading the charge, and fittingly so, is the Spartan, Elias Theodorou.

Many UFC fans were at least casually familiar with the Spartan, thanks to his dominant run on TUF Nations: Team Australia vs. Team Canada, where the six­foot­one­inch, 220­lbs. (Happy weight), handsome, exuberant, gregarious, extroverted then­25­year­old slammed, wrestled and grinded his way effortlessly through his Australian opposition to claim the initial spot in the middleweight finals at TUF Nations: Bisping vs. Kennedy. However, it was at said finales, at the Colisée Pepsi in Quebec City, against fellow Team Canada member Sheldon Westcott, where the Spartan not only demonstrated his complete MMA game and indomitable will — withstanding an all­out blitz by Westcott in the opening moments, then taking control of the fight, out­striking and flinging his opponent to the ground, as well as raining down vicious ground’n’pound — but his innate charisma and superstar potential. While in the process of mauling Westcott on the mat in the second round, the Spartan offered his adversary a brief respite when he faced the camera and cheerfully uttered the since viral social media sensation, “hi, mom” — his parents were in attendance, mere metres away from the Octagon — before resuming the assault. A little over 30 seconds later, the fight was halted and Elias was declared the inaugural Canadian Middleweight Ultimate Fighter. A hug with Dana and an award presentation later, and the Spartan had officially arrived in the UFC. However, like many seemingly overnight success stories, this one has been some time in the making, with the Spartan hard at work for years, honing his craft, sharpening his skills and preparing for his chance at greatness.

The Spartan (née Elias Theodorou) was born in the city of Mississauga, Ontario. While this Greater Toronto Area affiliate has produced its fair share of hockey celebrities (such as hall of fame goaltender Johnny Bower and the brash Don Cherry), Elias eschewed the Canadian pastime and spent his youth on the baseball diamond and adolescence as a semi­pro skateboarder. At the tender age of 17, while attending Meadowvale High School, he would witness a fight that would not only change the future of the UFC and MMA, but impact his as well. To say the light­heavyweight bout between Stephan Bonnar and Forrest Griffin at the original The Ultimate Fighter finale overachieved would be akin to stating that Godzilla inflicted “minor” damage on Tokyo. Bonnar/Griffin I has been dubbed “the most important fight in the history of the UFC,” changing the face of MMA and its popularity forever, and like millions watching the world over, once the final bell sounded upon the completion of that historic three­round war of attrition, Elias was hooked.

The Spartan began training at just 20 years of age at Toronto, ON’s Kros gym, in the disciplines of BJJ and Muay Thai, during his first year of university. A quick study, Elias swiftly racked up five Muay Thai wins and two Sanshou victories, going undefeated as an amateur — a trend that would continue throughout his career, and one that has yet to be broken. After receiving a degree in Creative Advertising from Humber College, the Spartan made the decision to take his training to the next level and travelled to the renowned Tiger Muay Thai Gym in Thailand to expand and refine his skillset in “the art of eight limbs.” During his training in Thailand, the Spartan would compete in two Muay Thai bouts, this time in the country where it originated, and is religion. The result? Two first­round (T)KO victories.

Upon his return from the land of flying knees and Pad Thai, the Spartan began searching for his first professional MMA fight. A flurry of emails to various Canadian and U.S. promotions was met with an offer to fight hometown hero Tanner Tolman in Calgary, AB at HKFC’s School of Hard Knocks 12. Despite being Elias’s professional MMA debut, the result was the same: a first round (T)KO victory. He would return just three months later for his sophomore pro­MMA bout, defeating Steve Hodgson by RNC in the second round at HKFC: School of Hard Knocks 14.

With two pro wins under his belt, the Spartan’s stock was on the rise, or at least available for purchase, on the Canadian MMA scene and he moved to Mecha MMA, after an introduction by rock­star­turned­Fight­Network­MMA­analyst­extraordinaire Robin Black, who would become an integral part of Team Spartan over the following years. At Mecha, he would train with the likes of JMMA legend Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto and Canadian standout Alex Ricci, while meeting long­time coaches Lachlan Cheng (BJJ) and Chute Boxe’s Sergio Cuhna (striking).

Between running into future TUF Nations coach Patrick Côté, post­UFC 140: Jones vs. Machida, in a Pizza Pizza (where a dance­off quickly ensued) and cast­mates Nordine Taleb and Chad Laprise following his only Bellator appearance, the Spartan added two additional victories to his undefeated streak, besting Erik Herbert by unanimous decision at Score Fighting Series Four and Rich Lictawa by third­round (T)KO at Bellator Fighting Championships (a bout Elias took on only six days notice). A trip to Brazil with Ricci and Cunha soon followed, with the Spartan training alongside UFC/pound­for­pound great Anderson Silva, Pride legends the Nogueira brothers and bane of limbs Rousimar Palhares, under the tutelage of the venerable Murilo Bustamante.

As the Spartan’s skills and experience expanded so too did his undefeated record, with a visit to Montreal’s famed Tristar Gym and training at Burlington’s BAMA sandwiched between unanimous decision victories over Simon Marini (Score Fighting Series Five) and Ali Mokdad (Score Fighting Series Seven). Occasional work at the Adrenaline Training Centre in London, ON, with the likes of Canadian UFC contingent members Sam Stout and Mark Hominick, and regular training at Para Bellum MMA and the Headrush Training Centre (formerly Grant’s MMA) followed, as did a victory over Mike Kent via first­round submission (punches) at ECC 17: Rise of Champions. Said triumph not only earned Elias the ECC middleweight title (his first, although not last, championship), but bumped his undefeated record to a perfect seven­and­oh. His second title would soon follow, along with training at Joslin’s MMA, just a little over three months later, when the Spartan (T)KO’d Travis Clark at NAAFS: Rock n Rumble Seven to capture the NAAFS middleweight championship.

With his undefeated record now an unblemished eight­and­oh, and his reputation as Canada’s top middleweight firmly established, the Spartan auditioned for (with the assistance of a successful Fund­a­Fighter campaign), and was accepted to, The Ultimate Fighter Nations: Team Canada vs. Team Australia. During his two bouts on the reality show, Elias demonstrated his MMA intelligence and acumen, easily controlling and defeating his Aussie opposition (Zein Saliba and Tyler Manawaroa, respectively) in the quarter­ and semi­finals to advance to the finale against teammate Sheldon Westcott uninjured and virtually untouched. Additionally, Elias’s time on TUF Nations allowed him many opportunities to display his extroverted personality, boyish charm, gift­of­gab, model­esque looks (more on that later) and Samson­esque mane, which has been rightfully dubbed “the best hair in MMA.”

His TUF Nations experience also gave the young Spartan a chance to reconnect with, and be instructed by, Team Canada friend and head coach Patrick Côté, as well as the likes of Muay Thai guru Kru Ash, Brazilian Top Team Canada mastermind Fabio Holanda, former Strikeforce middleweight champ Cung Lee, aforementioned grappling wizard Murilo Bustamante and Olympic wrester David Zimmerman. One of the Spartan’s most memorable moments (besides his two dominating victories, of course, and having dinner with welterweight great GSP) was a surprise meeting with UFC light­heavyweight kingpin and inspiration Jon Jones. Of course, being Elias, it was while wearing a Spartan helmet…

Following the filming of TUF Nations, the Spartan diligently began preparing for his middleweight finale showdown at TUF Nations: Bisping vs. Kennedy, adding Xtreme Couture Toronto to his numerous gyms and BJJ wizard Wagnney Fabiano to his long list of impressive coaches, as well as Burlington’s Tapout Training Centre. In addition, Elias embarked upon a second pilgrimage to the holy land of striking, returning to Tiger Muay Thai, this time with fellow TUF Nations competitor Richard Walsh and coach Côté, training under the likes of the esteemed Master Yod, as well as UFC vets Roger Huerta and Brian Ebersole. All his preparations paid off handsomely, with the Spartan turning in an impressive performance and emerging victorious at the finale, earning a contract with the UFC and an opportunity for potential stardom in the process.

In his Octagon return, after winning TUF Nations: Australia vs. Canada, the Spartan was matched up with tougher­than­a­two­dollar steak Brazilian grappler Bruno Santos. In a gruelling contest that tested both men’s physical limits, the Spartan emerged victorious, out­grappling the grappler and taking the W. Dissatisfied with this decision win, the Spartan was matched up next with former light heavyweight­turned­middle­weight Roger Narvaez, in his home state of Texas. After a close first round, the Spartan broke Narvaez’s arm with a kick in the second and quickly pounced, finishing the Texan with a flurry of punches for the (T)KO in the second.

Taking some time away from the Octagon, but not training (returning to Canadian institution Tristar, along with working with the likes of the legendary Nogueira Brothers, in Brazil, and then­middleweight champ Chris Weidman, in NYC), the Spartan appeared on Canada’s version of The Amazing Race, before returning to the Octagon to battle Muay Thai specialist Thiago Santos.

In the most difficult test of his career yet, the Spartan would be pushed to his limits — and beyond. Taking the first round with his unorthodox, kick­heavy striking style, and many argue the second as well, the Spartan suffered a severe laceration over his eye from a knee strike and absorbed a number of vicious shots from his opponent in the third. Bloody but unbowed, the Spartan battled through this adversity, refusing to succumb, yet picking up his first defeat via decision in a contest that easily could have gone the other way. Despite this decision, the Spartan learned a number of important lessons, in the process rededicating himself to his craft, training with renewed fervour at Tristar, with the likes of the legendary Georges St­Pierre and welterweight contender Rory MacDonald, for his upcoming contest in Ottawa against Sam Alvey, on June 18th, 2016.

In addition to being a superb athlete and possessing a degree in Creative Advertising, the Spartan is also incredibly easy on the eyes, with a chin carved from granite, luscious locks and an action figure physique. Coupled with his charisma and charm, these physical attributes have allowed him to pursue various modelling and acting opportunities. To date, the Spartan’s likeness has been featured on eight Harlequin romance novel covers, and he’s acted and performed stunt work in The Listener, Played and Netflix’s upcoming The No. 1 Contender, as well as appearing as eye­candy on Dragon’s Den and competing on The Amazing Race. Unfortunately for his inner­geek, Elias had to pass on roles in the Godzilla and Robocop reboots to compete on TUF Nations. However, the window of opportunity for any professional athlete is small, and while he hopes to one day return to his non­fighting endeavours, for now, there’s only one path: MMA.

In just an impressive seven years of training and competing, via incredible hard work and self­confidence, the Spartan has progressed from being just another kid with visions of one day fighting on the grandest stage of them all to becoming the inaugural Canadian middleweight Ultimate Fighter, placing his name alongside the likes of Forrest Griffin, Rashad Evans, Matt Serra, Michael Bisping and many other previous winners. In talking to The Fight Network’s renowned MMA analyst Robin Black, it’s clear in his eyes what separates the Spartan from the rank­and­file. “There’s only one thing about Elias that’s relevant: mental strength. Elias is mentally one of the strongest men walking — happily dancing? — the Earth. His humble yet powerful belief in himself has never failed him, and it never will.”

It’s this vast well of inner strength and belief that earned him the Spartan moniker. While anyone who’s spent time with Elias or seen him on the small or big screens in a non­MMA capacity may have trouble reconciling the energetic, garrulous, attractive, long­haired, fun­loving man­child with the indomitable, stoic, merciless warrior said epithet conjures, one need only witness him in action to understand why it’s appropriate. No one works more diligently, in training or the cage, or is as mentally resilient as the Spartan.

A workhorse in any environment, when it comes to preparing or competing, a change overtakes Elias — a narrowing of vision, a focusing. When the Spartan emerges for battle, he is single­minded and utterly relentless in the pursuit of victory. The Spartan’s slam­heavy, relentless, kick­ and knee­favouring, grinding, test­of­wills style sets a frenetic pace few in the sport can match or withstand. Examine his history and accomplishments, and there’s one undeniable conclusion: the Spartan is destined for greatness.

ELIAS’S FIGHTING STYLE

STRENGTH AND CONDITIONING

Elias is a Canadian mixed martial artist. He is currently competing for the UFC in the Middleweight division, and won The Ultimate Fighter Nations: Canada vs. Australia. Elias wins by drowning his opponents in his fast pace and sprinkle violence.

THE SPARTAN

ORIGIN OF HIS NICKNAME

Elias is Greek, and the Spartan really fits him! The name was first given to him by his original coach, who was Greek as well, and he said that Elias had the true Spartan spirit in his blood.

BODYWEIGHT TRAINING

A TOTAL BODY WORKOUT

Calisthenics has elements of practicality and versatility for trainees of all walks of life. It can produce gravity defying strength, while remaining accessible to older populations and kids.

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ELIAS’S ELITE STACK

SPARTAN FIGHT STACK

Fight side by side with Elias and subscribe to his custom Elite Stack! When you sign up you will get continuous updates and tips from Elias himself on how to get the most out of your intense training workouts.

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eliastheodorou Riding into the weekend with my mane man. #wwe or #ufc ?

eliastheodorou The Nobel Fight is won within. Heavy lifting before Jits class @tristargym gets both body & mind ready. Helping to blur the lines between my day 2 day grind. Staying motivated and focused... #ufc206 #dec10 #acc #HPNElite

eliastheodorou You're looking at about 1,400lbs of pure savagery. Putting in time & violence tonight. ⚔ #beastmode #HPNElite #Pure3 #warbound #ufc206

eliastheodorou "The enemy of my enemy is my friend." Got a chance to train with the man about to beat the only man to beat me! Zebrinha takes on Thiago Santos Sept 24th in Brazil. Good luck on your path to victory! 🙏 #tristarlife #fightersjourney

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