Elias Theodorou, a charismatic Canadian mixed martial artist and former UFC fighter, died on Sunday at the age of 34.
In an Instagram post, Theodorou’s publicity team confirmed that he died of colon cancer that metastasized. The fighter had only told a select group of people about his diagnosis.
Born in Mississauga, Ontario, Theodorou held various titles during his professional career including athlete, actor, model, stuntman, dancer, TV pitchman and Harlequin romance cover model.
He also became a known advocate for cannabis by successfully campaigning for the right to use medical marijuana as an athlete.
During his last fight in December 2021 against Bryan Baker, Theodorou became the first professional athlete in history to compete with a therapeutic use exemption for medical cannabis in North America (first in Canada and then in the United States).
UFC Editorial Director Thomas Gerbasi published a tribute to Theodorou, widely known as “The Spartan,” saying that he left behind a legacy to be proud of but which ended too soon.
“Some fighters make an immediate impression. Elias Theodorou was one of those select few who made everyone pay attention as soon as they saw him,” Gerbasi wrote. “… But just like he wanted it, Elias Theodorou made an impact in his 34 years, one that won’t be forgotten.”
Fellow Canadian fighter Sarah Kaufman also remembered Theodorou on social media.
“A positive energy if ever there was one, a man who almost always flashed a winning smile, a man who spoke out about what he believed in,” Kaufman wrote on Twitter.