Newly minted top-15 UFC middleweight Elias Theodorou (14-1 MMA, 5-1 UFC) had quite the reason to celebrate this past week when he cracked the rankings, proving himself as one of the best current 185-pound fighters on the planet.
“I’m really excited and plan to keep pushing on through,” Theodorou told MMASucka.com. “I want to earn it. I deserve my ranking, and I plan on proving it.”
He’ll get the chance to do so on July 7 when he’ll put his top-15 status on the line opposite Brad Tavares at The Ultimate Fighter 25 Finale in Las Vegas.
Theodorou is confident that he has a more complete toolbox than Tavares, and specifically named his cardio and output as superior to those of his opponent.
“I’ve kicked [my cardio] up even harder using science,” he said. “It’s all mental rather than physical. In my mind, there’s nothing I can do in 15 minutes that will tire me out. I’m not underselling Tavares in any capacity, but I have more tools.”
A chin is another one of those tools, as Theodorou alluded to Tavares’ two career T/KO losses. That’s not shabby at all over 18 professional fights, but Theodorou has never been finished in his career.
“The Spartan” said that he refuses to look past Tavares, but said he’s excited about the potential opportunity that lies in front of him: ascending the middleweight ladder.
“The top of the heap is within reaching distance,” he said. “In three fights, I could be top-5 if I win them all. It’s amazing.”
The 29-year-old Theodorou alluded to the older age of the upper echelon of the UFC’s middleweight division as a means to his goal. As of June 23, the average age of the top-15 plus champion Michael Bisping sits at 33.8. Seven of those 16 are aged 35 or older.
“Perennial fighters are getting older, and it’s our time to shine,” Theodorou said.
Looking ahead, Theodorou said that while fans will have to wait for his post-fight interview to see who he would specifically like to take on next, he hinted that he either wants someone ahead of him in the rankings or a fighter who has some name value, even if they’re not ranked.
As for the question of when, Theodorou said that he’d wait to see how his body feels following his scrap with Tavares, but he definitely wants to get in one more fight by the end of 2017. If it’s on the UFC 216 card lined up for September 9 in Edmonton, that’s all the better.
While Theodorou enjoys checking things off of his long-term “to-do list” as much as anyone else, the next item of business on the proverbial slip of paper is defeating Brad Tavares in two weeks. And he said he knows what fans can expect from him when those Octagon doors close behind him and Tavares for 15 minutes or less.
“I’ll do what I usually do,” Theodorou stated. “Get my hand raised.”