Elias Theodorou, a veteran UFC fighter hailing from Canada, has died at the age of 34. The news comes after a private battle with liver cancer, which he reportedly only shared with a small circle of friends and family.
A black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, Theodorou joined UFC in 2014 after winning “The Ultimate Fighter: Nations.” He was part of the organization until 2019, going 8-3. Beginning his MMA career in 2011 and fighting until 2021, he was 19-3 overall.
A stuntman, actor and producer, Theodorou is remembered by those who knew him as someone who was generous and who didn’t take himself too seriously. (He was also recognizable in MMA circles, for instance, for serving as the “ring boy” at the all-female Invicta Fighting Championship.) Outside of the ring, he was an outspoken advocate of medicinal marijuana for professional athletes.
“I want to use my platform to bring attention to what I’m doing. But, also bring attention to the current stigma that unfortunately surrounds cannabis,” he said in 2019. “It is something that I can slowly remove. Obviously, the stigma still remains but one step at a time. If what I’m doing allows another athlete to get out of the shadows, then I am kind of doing what is the right thing. Not only for myself but for other athletes to educate themselves and that this is an option. Moreover, remove the fear that any type of punishment will happen for just talking about it.”
He later became the first professional North American athlete to receive a therapeutic use exemption for cannabis use in February 2020 and was again granted an exemption in May 2021.