Elias Theodorou, UFC veteran and medical cannabis advocate, dies at 34 after cancer battle

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - MAY 26:  Elias Theodorou of Canada poses on the scale during the UFC Weigh-in at ECHO Arena on May 26, 2018 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
Elias Theodorou died Sunday of complications of cancer. He was 34. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images) (Josh Hedges via Getty Images)

Elias Theodorou, an outgoing and engaging man who reached a lifelong dream when he made it to the UFC, died Sunday at 34 of liver cancer, his publicist told The Associate Press. Reporter Aaron Bronsteter of TSN in Canada noted on social media that Theodorou had only shared his diagnosis with a few close friends.

A black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Theodorou made it to the UFC on April 16, 2014, when he stopped Sheldon Westcott via strikes in “The Ultimate Fighter Nations Finale.”

Theodorou began his MMA career with 11 consecutive victories before dropping a decision to Thiago Santos on Dec. 10, 2015, in Las Vegas. He went 8-3 in the UFC and was released after dropping a decision to middleweight contender Derek Brunson.

He fought three more times on the regional circuit, winning all of them with two coming by TKO. His final bout was a decision victory over Bryan Baker on Dec. 18, 2021, in Greeley, Colorado, raising his record to 19-3. Tragically, less than 10 months later, he was dead.

Theodorou was known for his long hair and rugged good looks. He never took himself too seriously and served as a “ring boy,” for the all-female Invicta Fighting Championship.

UFC welterweight contender and television analyst Michael Chiesa was a friend of Theodorou’s and in a video he posted on Twitter, said that Theodorou “was the type of guy who’d give you the shirt off his back.” At that point in his video, Chiesa held up a folded gray sports jacket he said belonged to Chiesa.

Chiesa said he was asked on short notice to attend a news conference but didn’t have a collar.

“I was telling him this and he was wearing [this sports jacket], with a T-shirt,” Chiesa said. “He took his jacket off and gave it to me. I never got a chance to give it back to him. That’s the type of guy he was. While I’m sad like a lot of people, he touched a lot of lives and I have to remember I’m very blessed that I had the friendship I had with him.”

Theodorou, who was born May 31, 1988, in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, was a man of varied interests. He appeared on the third season of “The Amazing Race Canada,” with his then-girlfriend, Max Altamuro.

According to “The Amazing Race Wiki,” Theodorou’s motto on the show was “Don’t look dumb on TV and don’t die.”

He had a Bachelor of Arts from Humber College in Toronto in Creative Advertising. He was an outspoken advocate for medical cannabis use and on Feb. 19, 2020, became the first professional athlete to receive a therapeutic use exemption (TUE) for it when he was granted it by the British Columbia Athletic Commission. According to his personal website, he was also granted a TUE in May 2021 for the same purpose.

He also worked as a stuntman, actor and producer.