The emphatic ringing of the interval timer concludes the intense sparring session for professional mixed martial artist Elias Theodorou, as he prepares for his upcoming appearance at UFC 231 in Toronto.
The Canadian is scheduled to go head-to-head against American Eryk ‘Ya Boi’ Anders in a Middleweight bout at the Scotiabank Arena on Dec. 8.
“The Spartan’s” confidence is running high as he aims to keep his two-fight winning streak alive — he won the judges over with back-to-back unanimous decisions.
His opponent, the up-and-coming Anders, is looking to bounce back after suffering a late third-round TKO stoppage against Thiago Santos.
Anders is an all-American athlete who played college football for the University of Alabama before jumping into the cage.
“I’m going to turn the boy into a man,” Theodorou tells Global News, cracking a devilish smirk followed by a wink.
The 30-year-old is relishing in his octagon experience, being the more seasoned of the two fighters; this will be his 10th UFC fight.
Both contenders have experienced losses at the hand of Middleweight Thiago Santos, who will also be competing on the Toronto card.
If you compare both their fights, Theodorou says he thinks he fared better against the hardened Brazilian.
A recent win against Trevor Smith has allowed Theodorou to crack the top 15 fighters in the Middleweight division; he now sits comfortably ranked at number 14.
“I’m going to show him the difference between chess and checkers,” Theodorou said.
The Ontario native said he is looking forward to giving his hometown crowd a decisive victory, jokingly saying thousands of friends and family members — “all Greek” — will be in attendance.
Born and raised in Mississauga, Ont., Theodorou was introduced to MMA later than most professional fighters.
The proud Greek-Canadian tried a martial arts class in university. His career soared when he got his professional start on the UFC’s Ultimate Fighter Series. He soon went on to be the first Canadian win the series.
“The Spartan” got his fighting moniker during his early beginnings when his former coach told him he admired his “Spartan mentality.”
“I’d be training and getting the crap beaten out of me,” Theodorou said.” But I had that fighting spirit and never quit.”
That dedication has followed him into to his professional career, having always made it to the end of every round he’s fought.
Several of Theodorou’s professional bouts have turned into bloody wars.
“There’s no real quit in me,” he said.
“I never gave up then and I will never give up now.”
That same attitude has helped Theodorou fight a different opponent outside the cage.
For the last 18 months, he has been pushing for the legalization of in-competition use of medical cannabis.
“It’s a long process, but it’s a fight I’m willing to have,” Theodorou told Global News.
Under the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), which oversees the athletes in the UFC, marijuana and cannabinoids are banned substances.
Fighters who are caught with traces of the Untied States Schedule 1 drug can face a two-year suspension.
Suffering from peripheral neuropathy, which affects nerves and impairs sensation, movement, glands and more, Theodorou uses medical cannabis to treat the chronic pain in his joints.
Theodorou has taken it upon himself to combat what he calls “backward” legislation.
“My next fight is not against one man, but against the stigma of medical cannabis,” Theodorou said.
“Personally, I feel obligated to fight for myself and all medical cannabis patients.”
Cannabis is the best way, Theodorou says, to help dull the pain of nerve damage in his upper extremities.
His fight for cannabis use is far from over, but he said he will continue to use his platform to “break the stigma and the stereotype surrounding cannabis use.”
Known for his luscious locks of long brown hair, the UFC pretty boy has been using his model-like looks to parade outside the cage, as a ring boy.
He did this in response to the controversy surrounds ring girls, who often parade around in revealing fits. Many consider it to be sexiest and unnecessary.
“I was actually more nervous being a ring boy for the first time because of what other people would think,” Theodorou said.
“Why remove a ring girl when you can add a ring boy?”
He has been breaking barriers outside the cage with his work as a ring boy for The Invicta fight promotion.
With over a dozen ring boy appearances under his belt, The Spartan is now a staple outside the cage for smaller fighting promotions.
He hopes the newly-adopted role of the ring boy will spread.
“In the true pursuit of equality, the answer is more, not less,” he said.
Theodorou is scheduled for 16 ring boy events next year.
Theodorou and several other Canadian fighters can be seen on the free UFC 231 prelims starting at 8 p.m. EST on Dec. 8.
The main card airs on pay-per-view.