SPORTS

Toronto middleweight Elias (The Spartan) Theodorou learns the Brazilian way

03/12/2015 02:51 EDT | Updated 05/12/2015 05:59 EDT
Elias (The Spartan) Theodorou's timing is rarely off. The 26-year-old Toronto middleweight showed that in winning "The Ultimate Fighter Nations" crown last April, pausing in mid-pummel of Sheldon Westcott to look up at the camera and say "Hi Mom."

But the sense of time, or lack thereof, in Brazil stumped Theodorou during his preparations for Saturday's encounter with Roger (Silverback) Narvaez on the UFC 185 undercard in Dallas.

Theodorou (10-0) spent almost a month in Rio de Janeiro with the Nogueira brothers — heavyweight Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and light-heavyweight Antonio Rogerio Nogueira — thanks to his coach Sergio Cunha.

"An amazing experience," said Theodorou.

Just not a very punctual one.

Theodorou would show up for a planned 9 a.m. training session at 8:30. When nothing happened by 9:30, the Canadian would join a wrestling class already in progress.

"So then by 10:30 I'd always have done an hour of wrestling and Little Nog or Big Nog would roll in and go, 'What are you doing? I thought we were doing boxing?" Theodorou recalled. "I'd say, 'Yeah, it's 11.' He would go, 'Yeah, we're training bro.'"

The afternoon session might not end until 2 a.m.

Theodorou clearly enjoyed the training despite the slack scheduling, just as he savoured escaping the Canadian winter.

"Chilling on the beach and falling asleep in between training sessions, I couldn't complain," he said.

No shrinking violet, Theodorou picked up some Portuguese.

"Obviously, the fun words. All the naughty ones, telling beautiful women how beautiful they are."

Theodorou is coming off a unanimous decision over Bruno Santos last October in a Halifax bout that saw the Canadian overpower and eventually exhaust the stocky Brazilian. The six-foot-one Theodorou is a big Energizer bunny — while he does not dominate in any one area, he is a grinding opponent who does not quit.

Narvaez (7-1) is coming off an upset split decision victory over England's Luke Barnatt last November in Austin thanks to a punishing head kick in the third round.

"I belong," Narvaez told UFC matchmaker Joe Silva after the fight.

"I'm a full-time firefighter in Corpus Christi, Texas," he said in the cage after the win. "I don't have the luxury to train every day of the week. But I don't rest. I go to work and then I clock out and go back to work. That's how we roll."

The six-foot-three Narvaez is a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt who originally took up the sport to lose weight. The 31-year-old southpaw started fighting as a heavyweight and made his UFC debut as a light-heavyweight, losing to Patrick Cummings on short notice before switching to middleweight where he is undefeated.

"I don't think he will deal well with my pace," said Theodorou. "I'm just going to keep going and going and going."

"I'm just really excited to show everyone what I've been working so hard on in Brazil," he added.

Lightweight champion Anthony (Showtime) Pettis faces No. 1 contender Rafael dos Anjos in the American Airlines Center main event.

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