Toronto's Theodorou faces stiff test in former Brazilian army paratrooper | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Toronto's Theodorou faces stiff test in former Brazilian army paratrooper

December 09, 2015 - 9:34 AM

LAS VEGAS, Nev. - Elias (The Spartan) Theodorou has passed every MMA test thrown at him so far.

The Toronto middleweight has won all 11 of his fights, including both UFC bouts since emerging victorious in "The Ultimate Fighter Nations" reality TV show. Charismatic and colourful, the 27-year-old is the kind of fighter the UFC hopes can help carry the flag north of the border.

Theodorou's credentials will be put under the microscope again Thursday when he faces Thiago Santos (11-3-0) on a Fight Night card.

The show is the first of three in as many nights in Las Vegas, culminating Saturday in UFC 194 when featherweight title-holder Jose Aldo meets interim champion Conor McGregor.

Thursday's main event features Rose (Thug) Namajunas (4-2-0), ranked third among female strawweights, against No. 7 Paige (12-Gauge) VanZant (6-1-0).

Santos, a former Brazilian army paratrooper, needed just 29 seconds in June to knock former Quebec minor-league hockey enforcer Steve Bosse senseless with a kick to the head. In January, Santos stopped Andy Enz in one minute 56 seconds, hurting him with a body kick before unleashing a barrage of punches.

Theodorou calls Santos the best striker "by far" he has faced — "and someone who can pull the trigger."

"A very tough opponent, who wants to take my block off," he said.

But he believes the Brazilian is more vulnerable the deeper he goes into a fight. Santos' lone loss in the UFC since appearing in "The Ultimate Fighter Brazil" was a unanimous decision to highly touted Uriah Hall.

"I'm going to take him further and further into those deep waters and put on a pace he can't handle," said Theodorou, who has the grinding style and cardio to back that up.

Theodorou prepared for Santos by training in Long Island, N.Y., with middleweight champion Chris Weidman, who defends his title in Saturday's UFC 194 co-main event against Luke Rockhold.

The Canadian fighter had nothing but praise for Weidman and his training team, which includes noted striking coach Ray Longo and former UFC welterweight champion Matt Serra.

"He's the best in the world," Theodorou said of Weidman (13-0-0). "Most other places would want to shelter him, kind of keep him away from anyone. Whereas they're just wide-open.

"I think a lot of that has to do with how confident Weidman is in his ability and his next fight and how he's going to win."

Theodorou has not fought since March, when he stopped Roger Narvaez in the second round, breaking his opponent's arm in the process. But he says he's in no hurry given that he is a relative newcomer to the sport.

Theodorou has only been training four years as a professional, although he worked at the sport for three years before that.

"I really need to learn," he said. "In many ways, I'm a jack of all trades and a master of none."

While not looking past Santos, he said future opponents will be "that much harder and I'm going to need to learn that much more."

Theodorou also is no one-trick pony. He has modelled in the past and has acting aspirations.

"Fighting is one of things I do. It's not the only thing I do," he said. "I want to put every single ounce of me when I'm fighting towards that goal of winning. I don't want to be sidetracked.

"There's a lot of moving parts," he conceded.

He hopes a win Thursday will help open the door to many of those new projects.

Follow @NeilMDavidson on Twitter

News from © The Canadian Press, 2015
The Canadian Press

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