Just In Triple Take: What to make of UFC releasing a successful fighter like Elias Theodorou MMA Life

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To the outrage of many, the UFC released middleweight Elias Theodorou over the weekend. The reason the decision seems to have come as such a shock is Theodorou’s overall success inside the octagon: He won “The Ultimate Fighter: Nations” in April 2014 and went 8-3 during his UFC tenure, including only one loss in his past four fights. He’s also been a popular figure with how he carries himself on social media. Then again, despite the UFC wins Theodorou has tallied, he’s never carried a reputation for excitement. Nine of his 11 bouts have gone to decision, with him winning five. 

So what are we to make of the UFC releasing a successful – if boring – fighter like Theodorou? MMA Junkie’s John Morgan, Fernanda Prates and Ben Fowlkes sound off in this edition of “Triple Take.” 


John Morgan: His win-loss record is admirable, but performances speak for themselves

Listen, I’ll never sit here and argue any fighter SHOULD be cut. That would just be downright mean considering you’re essentially calling for someone to lose their primary source of income. That said, I guess I just don’t find this move by the UFC particularly shocking.

Elias Theodorou’s track record in terms of wins and losses was certainly admirable. His penchant for earning those results in even remotely entertaining fashion wasn’t.

Take, for instance, MMA Junkie columnist Ben Fowlkes’ own takeaway from Theodorou’s final UFC performance. In laying out praise for Derek Brunson’s patient approach to fighting the awkward Canadian middleweight, Ben describes precisely why Theodorou was terminated.

For an abundantly aggressive and not terribly patient fighter like Brunson, Elias Theodorou presented an interesting test. Theodorou won’t stand there and brawl. He won’t stand there at all. If you want to get your hands on him, you have to go looking for him. If you get careless in the process, he can make you pay.

The idea that Theodorou can “make you pay” is, I guess, somewhat subjective. His final eight UFC fights all went the distance, so he wasn’t exactly punishing those careless offenders.

But let’s just say you don’t trust Ben’s evaluation of the fight; take Steven Marrocco’s, instead.

It’s not easy to short circuit the frustratingly elusive Canadian. But Brunson proved again it could be done with solid wrestling chops and patient counters. Theodorou is an original in a sport full of cardboard cutouts. He makes his herky-jerky style work against opponents who look like they should clobber him. But if he wants to beat guys like Brunson, he’ll need to come up with a better strategy. Being eccentric will keep you around. But eventually you have to be effective.

As you can see, the evaluations of Theodorou’s performances weren’t exactly positive, and even more unfortunately, it wasn’t as if this was a one-time thing. It had become a pattern for Theodorou, and I imagine the final straw for UFC officials had to be hearing the Canadian showered with boos in his home country at UFC Ottawa.

It’s no secret that MMA is not a sport based simply on wins and losses. It’s about entertainment, as well. And with that in mind, I’ll ask anyone bemoaning Theodorou’s release to tell me, please, what fight they were just itching to see him in next? What was the dream Theodorou matchup that you feel you’re now losing forever, the one that would headline a UFC event and be a surefire “Fight of the Night” affair?

I imagine Theodorou, himself, wasn’t even terribly surprised this would one day be his fate, even if he didn’t expect it at this exact time. He wisely diversified his portfolio to include shampoo sponsorships, acting roles and even “ring boy” duties, and I’m glad he did. Theodorou is an incredibly nice, incredibly friendly, fun guy to be around, but his fighting performances left something to be desired and made this a necessary choice for the UFC.

Next page – Fernanda Prates: Like his style or not, this isn’t a great message to fighters

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