Win or lose, we will finally figure out where Elias Theodorou belongs in the middleweight division at UFC Ottawa.
MMA fans have a short memory when it comes to athletes. The quantity of violence consumed is so high that fans only remember people who do things out of the ordinary. Hence, regular and consistent performances aren’t as rewarded as a one-time highlight finish or a good trash-talk build-up. This has resulted in the creation of two sets of fighters. The first is of fighters with knockout ability and charisma who climb the ladder in the MMA world quickly. The second set consists of athletes who lack the ability to deliver on these two ends and have to slog their way up. This requires amassing a winning streak and producing consistent performances over a period of time. Elias Theodorou has evolved as a personality who’s difficult to typecast into any of these two.
Theodorou is no highlight finisher. He doesn’t put up fights that people can identify him with nor does he produce insane viral highlight videos. However, at the same time, he isn’t boring. He has his own dedicated fan following on Twtter who tune into his fights. This has resulted in him being visible but not beyond his own spectrum. Surprisingly, it isn’t as if he hasn’t had opportunities to grow, ventures like The Amazing Race Canada should have done something for him but they simply didn’t work.
Entering UFC Ottawa, “The Spartan” will find his place in the division. At the present moment, he’s neither among the elite, nor a stepping stone and nor is he a prospect. He is just floating around in the ever-volatile division. This weekend, Theodorou will get a defined shape. He is currently on a three-fight win streak which includes wins over the likes of former Olympian Dan Kelly. This has resulted in him getting substantial attention from both fans and media alike, making his this fight against Derek Brunson an important one for him and his foreseeable future.
Derek Brunson is a knockout artist and usually acts as a stepping stone to enter the elite rankings. With a record of 18-7, Brunson has faced the likes of Ronaldo Souza, Israel Adesanya, Anderson Silva, and Robert Whittaker. He has become a known name in the MMA world and a win over him tends to launch fighters in the deeper ends of the pool. However, a loss to him at the very same time can knock one to the shallow ends for a long time. This is what makes a Brunson fight special. Theodorou will find his space in the division regardless of the outcome of the fight. If he wins, he breaks through into the list of contenders. However, if he loses, he goes down hard. The outcome of this match will determine what course he will take.
Securing a win against someone like Brunson is no easy job. Brunson is a finisher and of his 18 wins, he has won 14 by finishing his opponents. He’s explosive and loves engaging in firefights. Theodorou, on the other hand, has a good striking game and fair wrestling. He doesn’t engage that much in fights and likes to fight safe. He can absorb bombs which were seen in his last fight against Eryk Anders. “The Spartan” has good cardio. This is where he gets a clear advantage over Brunson, who has shown trouble in maintaining pace in the past.
The fight overall sounds fun. Who will win is something we’ll come to know this weekend.
UFC Ottawa will be live on ESPN+ in the USA, TSN 5 in Canada on May 4, and Sony Ten 2 in India on May 5.