The MMA world is mourning the loss of Elias Theodorou, who sadly passed away at the age of 34.

Late on Sunday night, September 11, TSN MMA reporter Aaron Bronsteter verified reports of Theodorou’s passing, revealing that Elias had been “privately battling Stage 4 liver cancer and had only told a select group of people of his diagnosis.”

Canada’s Theodorou was best known to MMA fans as the middleweight fighter with model good looks and flowing hair who won The Ultimate Fighter Nations: Canada vs. Australia in 2014. His cerebral fighting style set him apart from the competition as he earned himself a contract in the UFC.

Arriving in the UFC as an undefeated prospect, Theodorou went 8-3 inside the octagon, pickingup wins over the likes of Sam Alvey, Cezar Ferreira, Dan Kelly and Eryk Anders. He lost three times, to Thiago Santos, Brad Tavares and Derek Brunson – all knockout artists – but none of them were able to finish him. Indeed, Theodorou was never finished, either by strikes or by submission, in his 22-fight mixed martial arts career.

In the latter years of his career, Theodorou was a strong advocate for the medical use of marijuana in sport, and eventually became the first athlete in North America to be granted a therapeutic use exemption (TUE) for cannabis as he worked hard to break down misconceptions about the drug, while highlighting its benefits for athletes. His TUE, granted by the British Columbia Athletic Commission in January 2020, allowed him to use the substance to help give him pain relief from nerve damage caused from a prior broken hand.

Outside of the octagon, Theodorou also competed on TV show, The Amazing Race Canada, alongside his then-girlfriend, Max Altamuro. He also broke down barriers by agreeing to appear as a “ring boy” for all-female MMA promotion Invicta FC.

From a personal perspective, I was cageside for two of Elias’s UFC bouts: his defeat to Thiago Santos at UFC Fight Night 80 in Las Vegas in December 2015, and his victory over Trevor Smith at UFC Fight Night 130 in Liverpool, England, in May 2018.

I was also fortunate enough to meet and chat to Elias while he was in Northern Ireland as a guest fighter at UFC Belfast in December 2016. He was a fascinating, positive character with a great outlook on life.

Theodorou’s career, mixing fighting with reality TV, while also pushing for positive change, may not have been the most conventional for an MMA fighter, but it was undoubtedly a successful one. And, by becoming the first professional sportsman in North America to compete with a TUE for medical cannabis, he helped break down a barrier for pro athletes.

Overall, Theodorou’s career record read 22 fights, 19 wins, three losses, with no stoppage defeats on his record. His last fight, a decision win for regional promotion Colorado Combat Club, came in December 2021. It put him on a three-fight win streak.

Our condolences go to his friends and family. Rest In Peace.