Elias Theodorou of Mississauga, Ont., is one of eight Canadians competing on TUF Nations. He will be writing weekly blogs for sportsnet.ca to share an inside perspective about what went on inside the gym and house.
And If You Don’t Know, Now You Know!
Well, the cat’s out of the bag. For the last four months, I have kept the most exciting secret I’ve ever had to myself: I will be fighting April 16 at the TUF Nations finale to become, hopefully, the first Canadian Ultimate Fighter. Boom! But before I get into all that there’s plenty to talk about leading up to this great moment of my hand being raised once again in victory.
The TUF experience was one of the, if not the, greatest of my life. I was fortunate enough to be chosen to represent my country on a show that many excellent fighters auditioned for. I commend all my comrades that were at the tryouts that fateful day last September who are still fighting the good fight. I hope you all get your moment, as you are warriors that deserve to demonstrate your skills on the big stage.
Once selected, I may have screamed like a little schoolgirl, but, heck, that’s not the weirdest thing I’ve ever done. You can view some of that weirdness every Wednesday at 10 p.m. EST on Sportsnet 360. (I’m getting good at these shameless plugs!) Once selected, I was thrown into a house with 15 other likeminded knuckleheads. None of us knew what to expect, but we all wanted to be there and to have our chance to shine.
The days would turn into weeks and the fights would serve as our entertainment. We were both the gladiators and spectators in the arena we call the Octagon. Some contests went as expected, while others were complete upsets. I was fortunate to win my first bout against fellow undefeated fighter Zein Saliba, in a gruelling two rounds that saw me establish a pace he simply couldn’t match. Winner, winner, chicken dinner!
You Are What You Eat
Enough of the recap and “touchy/feely” stuff; I’m in the semis! In this latest episode, I was battling the other unblemished top dog, Tyler Manawaroa, who pulled off the upset of the season when he defeated Nordine Taleb in a three-round war that tested both men’s hearts. Needless to say, I was excited, as I knew my skill set was perfect to defeat the brash Aussie. With the fight quickly approaching, we got to witness two very different nutritional approaches. Tyler’s diet, is, um, not as strict as mine. It consists of Tater Tots, fries and a pan full of oil. Yum! I went the healthier route, with a protein, fruit and Kali smoothie. Victory in a glass!
This is Sparta!!!
Going into the weigh-ins, I felt great. I cut the excess pounds the night before, which was a first, for me, but it went off without a hitch. I definitely plan to continue this practice, as I’m a very cranky baby in the morning. Once off the scale and set to pose for the prerequisite face-off, I needed to top my previous “Rawr.” Luckily, Kru Ash was there to save the day. He had gleefully presented me with a Spartan mask a few days earlier and, being the silly, silly man I am, I happily agreed to wear it. Matt, Fabio and the rest of the Canucks didn’t know if I had the guts to put it on, but reality TV makes you do some crazy things without thinking, and before I knew it, I was screaming, “This is Sparta!” at Tyler, rocking some sweet crazy eyes, along with the rubber mask.
After the weigh-ins came the fun part: eating! Being a food lover at heart, this comes naturally to me. I generally put a great deal of weight back on during the 24 hours following a cut. Starting at the 185-pound. mark, I’m usually over 200 pounds by the time I get into the cage the next day. The heaviest I’ve been to date was 212 pounds — that’s packing on 27 pounds in 24 hours. Thank you, Nutella. Without you none of this would be possible.
Come fight time, many factors were in play. The first was my relationship with Tyler. He and I hit it off like two silly peas in a pod. I really related to his young, wild ways, which my friends back home can vouch for. I am a goof, both on screen and off. This young buck has a great deal of potential and God-given talent. I truly hope he picks himself up after this loss and his recent troubles. Get yourself to the gym, my friend, train and return to your winning ways.
The second and most intense factor was the Canadian welterweight matchup prior to my fight. My teammates Chad and Kajan fought moments before I was set to climb into the Octagon. I didn’t watch their clash, as I never do when I’m fighting; I stayed in the Canadian change room and waited for my turn. Just before I was up, Kajan came in bloodied and in tears. It was a shocking sight.
The Show Must Go On
The show had to go on, however, and it was my turn to compete in the most important bout of my life. Once inside the cage it became “As Real As It Gets,” with just one person between myself and a spot in the finals.
The first round started as expected. I felt out my opponent and proceeded to grind on him. That was all part of the game plan. The second stanza played out pretty much the same, with the addition of some kicks on my part. By the third and final round, I had the Aussie figured out, but stayed focused and outworked him, just as my corner and I had planned. After the horn sounded, there was no doubt that I had won the first spot in the middleweight final. The Spartan was your victor, and remained undefeated.
I Can’t Get No Satisfaction
If I were to tell you I was completely satisfied with my performance, I would be lying. Of course, making it to the finals was the most important part of the tournament — and mission accomplished. However, my only regret is not showing all the facets of my game in the Octagon. Luckily there’s still one more fight to go and it’s for all the marbles. In three weeks, I will be battling the winner of the Vik/Sheldon bout and I’ll have the opportunity to demonstrate what I’ve been working oh-so-hard on for the last four months. I will be the next Ultimate Fighter and show you why I will one day be mentioned alongside the likes of Stephan Bonnar and Forrest Griffin.
I Would Like To Thank…
With that, there are many people I would like to thank for getting me to this point, both pre- and post-TUF. First off, my coaches (Lachlan, Sergio, RG and Chad) for all your hard work building me into the fighter I am today; I can’t even begin to tell you how thankful and grateful I am to have you in my corner. Second, I must thank all my training partners from all the gyms I visit — my main gym, Headrush Training Centre, Joslin’s MMA, Para Bellum, TapouT Burlington, Xtreme Toronto, and M-1 Thai Boxing. Thank you all for pushing me each and every day. I am very grateful to have such great partners and friends. Finally, my family. I would like to thank my mom, dad and brother for being my anchors, as well as my friends for always being there for me. I love you all!
Thank you for sharing my journey and I hope you tune in to watch the final welterweight fight next week, as undefeated Team Canada prospect Olivier still has some work to do. It’s going to be a good one!
Much love. Spartan out!
Follow Elias on Twitter @EliasTheodorou