The MMA world was in a state of shock earlier this week as ranked middleweight UFC fighter, Elias Theodorou, was cut from the organization.
A TUF winner with an impressive 8-3 record under the UFC banner, Theodorou had just snapped a 3-fight win streak against perennial contender Derek Brunson. UFC wasted no time in releasing the Canadian middleweight in an unprecedented move against a fighter’s style, rather than his lack of talent.
The move was widely condemned by the MMA community, led by UFC commentator Joe Rogan, who slammed the decision on his podcast.
“I don’t like the way they do things. There are a lot of things I don’t like. They just cut Elias Theodorou. One loss to Derek Brunson, cut. Like explain that. How do you explain that? That one doesn’t make any sense.”
The curious case of Elias Theodorou.
Theodorou is a very talented man with several big names wins on his resume. He is clearly good enough to be in the UFC, so why isn’t he?
The simple answer is he’s not entertaining. Elias has gone to the scorecards in his last 8 fights. He often uses a point scoring style, which is considered by some boring, and by others anti-fighting.
Without a stoppage since 2015, Theodorou has never won a fight night bonus and gained little love from the fans until now.
Speaking on social media in the aftermath of his release, Theodorou said, “For some time, I prided myself at being an unorthodox fighter able to outsmart his opponent in a form of competition. I can see now to many, the ‘entertainment’ of violence outweighs victory. Looking to take the time and grow not only as a martial artist, but a prize fighter.”
With clear indications of an impending style change, Theodorou seems ready to bow to the pressure of the promoters and fans to continue to fight at the highest level. He now faces the long hard road back to the big show.
Win, entertain or leave.
A clear message has been sent to the UFC roster. No longer is it enough to have a winning record, big victories and a top 15 ranking. You better be entertaining, or you could well be following Elias Theodorou out of the door.
Whilst bold, this move is not particularly surprising. The UFC have always prioritized entertainment over the good of the sport, whether that means pushing certain fighters, disregarding the rankings, or even dismantling an entire division.
Win and fight night bonuses are a staple of the organization, literally rewarding the most successful and entertaining fighters of the night. Despite the UFC being considered the gold standard of MMA, it’s important to note they are simply are one of many promotional outlets. Like any promotional company, they want to entertain their fans and appease the broadcasters.
Anyone who doesn’t contribute towards these aims is entirely dispensable. This unprecedented move is a sign of things to come for any fighter who doesn’t add value to the UFC brand.