MMA Fighter Elias Theodorou Talks Upcoming Fight, Engaging The Fanbase With NFTs

The streets of Mississauga are mean!

That’s what Canadian mixed martial artist “The Spartan” Elias Michael Theodorou jokingly called his start in the world of professional fighting.

After an informal fight in secondary school, Theodorou developed an itch for the sport.

“Someone filmed it on a Razr phone and I got a little bit of attention,” he explained. “I got into a fight again during my first year at university. This one I was not so lucky to win.”

The loss was filmed and it too went viral, dinging Theodorou’s ego so much so he confided the event with his father who advised him to pursue the sport professionally.

Fast forward to today, the 33-year-old has competed for the UFC, ranking 13th in the Middleweight division, and won The Ultimate Fighter Nations: Canada vs. Australia.

Read on to find out more about Theodorou’s career aspirations, advocacy around medical cannabis, as well as a deal to create collectible NFTs via the New World platform.

Benzinga: Hey Elias, that’s a pretty interesting way to get into the sport. Tell me about your path to the UFC. How did you learn?

Theodorou: After my first year in university, I went to a small local gym called Cross Gym and I never left.

I enlightened myself and became a man; I was a bit of a lost boy as a kid and mixed martial arts (MMA) very much centered and allowed me to develop as both a person and martial artist.

After I got my diploma, my parents asked me: “What are you going to do?”

I said: “I’m going to Thailand and I’m going to get into a couple of fights.” I ended up fighting, winning, and just knew that this was what I wanted to pursue.

Were you ever able to make use of your college education?

My degree in advertising allowed me to develop the brand that is myself and kind of run with it in different ways, beyond the cage. Then, more recently, I’ve also been focusing more as an advocate and athlete.

What happened after Thailand?

Essentially, MMA wasn’t allowed in Ontario when it first burst onto the scene because of some technicalities in regards to the way boxing [laws] were written.

As MMA grew and the switch happened, there were a lot of people that came on.

I threw my hat in the ring and eventually Hard Knocks brought me in to be a stepping stone for a local star. Unfortunately, for them, I was the person they picked and I very much derailed the hype train; I was able to get the TKO in the first round.

Then there was the Score Fighting Series. I had a couple of fights there, and so on.

At this point, I had undefeated nearly 10 fights under my belt … and they put together The Ultimate Fighter Nations: Canada vs. Australia, where I auditioned, was chosen, and won.

I then stayed with the UFC for the better part of five or six years.

Tell me about your experience with cannabis, as well as advocacy in the space.

I have nerve damage. It’s called peripheral neuropathy on my upper extremities.

Instead of using first-line medicines like opioids and painkillers, I’ve argued and opted to use cannabis, as prescribed by my doctor and afforded to me by my fundamental right as a Canadian.

Though I applied for a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE), it was an uphill battle because I was with a U.S. company – UFC – which partnered with USADA, the United States Anti-Doping Agency, which gets funded by the U.S. government.

They have to look at the protocols that the U.S. government has and, obviously, cannabis is a Schedule I drug considered to have no medical properties under the eye of the law.

Ironically, they’re telling athletes to be aware of opioid addiction while they’re saying: “Hey, Elias, try more opioids. That might work.”

The UFC and I eventually parted ways and I was able to be an agent of change and go back to Canada where I applied for a TUE via the government in British Columbia.

Given that the provincial commission is actually run by the B.C. government, this was the first time a provincial government recognized cannabis as a medicine in professional sports; I set a precedent not only for myself, but for all athletes in boxing and MMA.

Later, I went over to Colorado where I also approved for a TUE this year and set precedent, again. That’s where I’ll be fighting my next fight on December 18 for the Colorado Combat Club.

Tell me about initiatives to engage your fanbase. What’s up with the interest in NFTs?

I was able to partner with a company called New World over NFTs.

I am a fighter and co-promoter. I actually own the content of my events.

So, for my fight, we’re going to be creating a “Fight T-Shirt” and it’s going to be a physical t-shirt signed, and then, also, a digital component, as well.

You’ll even be able to view the fight via the NFT, so you’ll actually have a piece of the history.

I’ll be the first sanctioned cannabis athlete and they’ll own a piece of that.

So you’re fighting on December 18. You’ll be releasing the NFT the day of the fight at 4:20 PM. Where will you be directing your attention after?

There are 24 hours in the day and I plan to use them to the fullest.

I plan to be both fighting and advocating more.

In the next year, I plan to knock some more doors down in regards to the prohibition of cannabis in sports beyond professional sports.

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Posted In: CannabisCryptocurrencySportsExclusivesMarketsInterviewGeneralCross GymElias Michael TheodorouHard KnocksMixed Martial ArtsMMANew WorldNFTScore Fighting SeriesThe Ultimate Fighter Nationsufc
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