UFC Fight Night 54 is less than a week away and besides the point that grasshopper Rory MacDonald is one of Canada’s most exciting fighters, the main card also provides a host of other incredible Canadian based fighters– one of whom is “The Spartan” Elias Theodorou. Hailing from the Greater Toronto Area, I know Elias from his training sessions spent at my place of work, Tapout Burlington Training Centre. Elias has spent countless hours with world renowned coach, Sergio Cunha at the gym, perfecting his game for the ultimate goal: a win. I’ve been lucky enough to prelude my experience of watching him fight by having a first hand account of his preparations and the work rate have been nothing short of impressive.
Other than the fact that Elias has been an entertaining figure in the Octagon, outside of it on social media and through his incredibly hilarious award speech in Quebec after winning the Ultimate Fighter Nations ,he will surely prove he is also a force to be reckoned with. I can honestly say this from first hand experience–having the opportunities to sit in on any training session of a fighter preparing for not just a fight, but a battle of recognition and power is something any fight fan should never pass up.
Under the guidance of Sergio Cunha, fans can expect Elias to surely be making his first few steps into mixed martial arts glory. Sergio’s intesive coaching style is demanding, experienced, intelligent and overall about winning–there is no other option under the Brazilian. This is why his fight is a must watch.
The Spartan gained a lot of criticism (particularly from the depths of social media) after his first fight on the Ultimate Fighter Nations, when he fought Australian contestant Tyler Manawaroa in a grappling war which lead to a decision win. His performance was by no means the highlight of his true capability, as fans witness against Sheldon Wescott in the finale, but it did prove his high level approach to wrestling. I can also atest to this–sitting in on a grappling session, I witnessed Elias’ gas tank tested to its peak and his take down defense shine as his opponents, one after the other, failed to force him to the ground.
Maybe Elias didn’t make MMA snobs exceptionally happy with his bright idea to say “Hi mom” to the camera during a ground battle with Sheldon Wescott in the 2nd round of his finale fight, but it did prove that the longer Wescott was submitted in that position, the more strikes Elias would land. It also proved the uproar of fans belittling Elias’ striking technique by calling him, from his words, “a cage humper”, to be totally untrue. His clear and prolific win against Sheldon Wescott not only allowed him to carry the same award as other greats before him, but it also proved to skeptics that Elias’ striking abilities shouldn’t be discounted. In fact they should be noticed–as his win was via TKO.
On Saturday, Elias takes on Brazilian Bruno Santos, a man with an extensive record ahead of The Spartan at 14-1-0, but yet not at the same percentage rates in numbers which Elias carries. According to UFC.ca Elias’ knockout rate is 56% to Santo’s mere 7%. In the UFC alone it is easy to see that Bruno’s gas tank has the ability to go the distance as his record is mostly via unanimous decisons. But this is something Elias can handle, let alone eliminate with his ability to cut the fight short with a stroke of brilliance. Elias looks to have spent alot of his training camp at Tristar, the famous Montreal based gym of legend Georges St Pierre, training alongside headliner Rory MacDonald, as well as utilizing the likes of Firas Zahabi. A intelligent decision made on Elias part, as the world will anticipate to see the things he has learned and grown into for his big UFC entrance.
To further the emphasis on how dangerous Elias can be on the feet, I want to add in my experience of watching him endure a grueling striking workout under the likes of Sergio Cunha. A well known tool used by the Brazilian coach (if you`ve witnessed prior camps with him) Cunha likes to challenge the range of motion in the fighters striking by adding resistance tubing to their arms and legs and coaching them through a explosive pad workout. Sitting in for the entire 15 minutes a combination of all aspects striking showed me Elias knees, high kicks and jaw breaking upper cuts. Sergio`s booming voice and call out for combinations also added to the excitement, but on top of this Elias pushed the pace, hardly faltered and kept his sweater on the entire workout. That my friends is weight cutting at its finest–as well as willpower.
There is one thing that the fight offers by guarantee above all else: aggression. Elias has already proven his worth for the UFC , but now is time for him to prove to fans he belongs there. Bruno Santos is a very aggressive fighter whose record stands mainly on unanimous decisions as he prefers to keep his fights in a clinch–yet his use of leg kicks may cause Elias some trouble. From what I’ve seen though, Elias is ready for whatever position Santos tries to take The Spartan. Elias has no problems in the clinch as his advantage truly lies in his striking game through reach and height advantages. Elias will be looking out for Brunos low take down attempts as he is aware of the major height difference in his opponent, but as referenced before, Elias will not be in uncharted territory. He will look to take his opponent in some seriously uncomfortable positions in his home country.
Welcome to Canada Bruno.