Theodorou Elias, a former Greek-Canadian Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) fighter commonly known as ‘The Spartan,’ passed away at his home in Toronto, Canada on Sunday.
The 34-year-old UFC fighter’s peaceful repose was confirmed through his official social media accounts “after a hard-fought fight with colon cancer that metastasized.”
Born in Mississauga, Ontario to two Greek parents, Elias “The Spartan” Theodorou, was an athlete, actor, model, stuntman, dancer, TV pitchman, Harlequin romance cover model, and cannabis advocate.
In 2009, Theodorou took up MMA after his first year at Humber College, where he studied creative advertising and made his inaugural appearance in 2011.
“The Spartan” had been a five-year fighter in the UFC, entering the promotion after winning The Ultimate Fighter, the nation’s middleweight tournament in 2014, and keeping a record of 8-3 in the UFC (19-3 in his professional MMA career).
Theodorou was cut by the promotion in the year 2019 following a unanimous decision loss to Derek Brunson. He became an advocate for the use of medicinal marijuana in combat sports.
Greek-Canadian “The Spartan,” a UFC fighter battling cancer privately
Although he kept his battle with cancer private in 2020, Theodorou became the first UFC fighter to receive a therapeutic use exemption for medical cannabis.
Upon his passing, Theodorou’s publicist said on Instagram that “Elias ‘The Spartan’ Theodorou answered his final bell yesterday, September 11, 2022.”
He passed peacefully at home with his family and loved ones in his corner after a hard-fought fight with colon cancer that metastasized.
“He faced his end as he lived his life eternally, irrationally, and infectiously optimistic,” the post said.
Jeff Novitzky, the UFC’s senior vice-president of athlete health and performance, in reaction to the news tweeted: “RIP Elias Theodorou. A great person and a HUGE voice for the more fair and equitable treatment of marijuana use in MMA and sport.”
“I’m shocked and gutted. Elias was one of the few high-profile names in MMA who gave me the time of day to chat with him. RIP, Spartan,” CBC’s Sanjay Maru wrote.
Theodorou kept cancer diagnosis secret
Brave Combat Federation fight analyst Robin Black, a friend and former UFC fighter himself, said Theodorou had not shared his cancer diagnosis publicly.
Robin Black figured Theodorou made that choice basically “because he couldn’t bear to make people sad.”
“He was a really, really, really special guy,” Black said.
On social media, Canadian fighter Sarah Kaufman said, “A positive energy if ever there was one, a man who almost always flashed a winning smile, a man who spoke out about what he believed in.”
The Spartan’s pro record was nineteen wins and three losses with six wins in his last seven outings. His last fight was a win over Bryan Baker last December on a Colorado Combat Club card.
When he didn’t train, Theodorou would help others battling cancer, who did not have financial and psychological support.
“I’m a very big extrovert,” he had told the Associated Press in one of his interviews. “A stranger is just a friend you haven’t met.”