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Former MMA Fighter Elias Theodorou Dies Age 34 from Liver Cancer

Tyler Conway@@jtylerconwayFeatured Columnist IVSeptember 12, 2022

Mike Roach/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

MMA fighter Elias Theodorou died Sunday of liver cancer.

He was 34.

Aaron Bronsteter of TSN Sports confirmed Theodorou's death, reporting his cancer diagnosis was known to only "a select group of people."

Theodorou fought in UFC from 2014 to 2019, compiling an 8-3 record with the promotion and winning the Ultimate Fighter: Nations middleweight tournament.

After his departure from UFC, Theodorou fought three more times, with his most recent being a win over Bryan Baker in December. He finished his MMA career with a 19-3 record overall.

Beyond his in-ring career, Theodorou was also a staunch advocate for medical cannabis. He became the first professional athlete in North America to receive a therapeutic use exemption for medical cannabis from a state athletic commission in 2020.

"They kept on telling me to take more prescription drugs, when my doctor and I knew that cannabis was right for me," Theodorou told CBS News. "They were telling me to take antidepressants and opioids, all while ironically or sadly having a campaign about the opioid crisis."

While marijuana is legal in many states for medical or recreational purposes, it remains illegal on a federal level. That makes it difficult for athletes to obtain medical exemptions in competitions governed by the United States Anti-Doping Agency, which is a federally run program.

Theodorou said he hoped to inspire change that would help athletes eventually be able to use cannabis for medical purposes.

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