Well, if you've been following TUF Nations like I have (I haven't, really), then you'll already know a lot about our upcoming middleweight Ultimate Fighter finalists. Culminating with April 9th's season finale, a field of 8 men has been whittled down to two. Those two, Sheldon Westcott and Elias Theodorou, will face off at the TUF Nations Finale on April 16th in Quebec City.
Who is Elias Theodorou?
The 25-year-old Theodorou is a small camp product from Toronto, Canada.
He's listed as fighting out of Kros Gym and Mecha MMA, but neither camp has any real web presence. Theodorou updated Bloody Elbow that he is training at HeadRush MMA under Sergio Cunha, I believe formerly of Mecha MMA (and one of the classic Chute Boxe trainers). Recently he's also been able to take the step to a bigger gym, training at Tiger Muay Thai in Thailand for his UFC debut, along with Zubaira Tukhugov, Brian Ebersole and his coach Patrick Cote. Outside of his small camp origins, he's a latecomer to martial arts, as he claims to have started his MMA training in college without much in the way of prior experience. That hasn't hurt him thus far, as he brings an 8-0 undefeated record with him to the UFC with 5 wins coming by way of stoppage. His level of competition has been surprisingly strong. No big names, but a lot of fighters who've found reasonable success at the regional level.
What you should expect:
At the very least, from his TUF performances (because there's not much other tape out there), fans should expect something of a skilled generalist in Theodorou. As a fighter without a deep martial arts training background, he comes with what he's learned in his MMA training. He's not a bad striker, but doesn't like to spend a lot of time at range, instead looking to work his way into the clinch. His greatest asset is probably his ability to strike in transition and to integrate the various facets of MMA well. He moves between striking, wrestling, and grappling with ease, even if he's not a great master of any single area.
Who is Sheldon Westcott?
Much like Theodorou, Westcott is the product of a fairly small camp, but one with a UFC history. Complete Fitness and Martial Arts boasts Former UFC heavyweight Tim Hague among it's many fighters. The 29-year-old isn't undefeated, but brings a decent 8-1-1 record with him for his UFC debut. Like Theodorou, he has little in the way of martial arts background pre-MMA, but has done well against a strong level of competition, defeating regional vet Thomas Denny and former TUF fighter Nic Herron-Webb (although his level of competition takes a pretty severe nose dive after those two).
What you should expect:
Westcott's fighting MO is pure aggression. He's an incredibly raw standup fighter. Those of you who have Fight Pass should go back and watch his fight with Dan Kelly in episode 6 from TUF Nations. In the first minute Westcott essentially flings his body at Kelly in an at-any-cost attempt to make physical contact. Once he's latched on to an opponent he's rather unshakable. He throws strikes in the clinch well and uses a combination of slams, trips, and double legs to get his opponent to the mat where he looks to lock up a submission. Like Theodorou, his game is all about transition offense and the ability to pounce on an opening when both he and his opponent are not in a strong position.
What this means for their fight:
What this means for their fight is essentially, flip a coin. Both fighters have equal experience, both come from small camps, neither of them have an extensive martial arts background. I'd say Theodorou is the better striker (he couldn't be worse) but Westcott is more aggressive. That in and of itself could be a big equalizer. If Theodorou comes to this fight with a lot of improvement after training in Thailand, I'd give him the edge, but that's a pretty big if in an otherwise even contest.
To get us better acquainted, here's Theodorou's bout with Tyler Manawaroa:
And Westcott's TUF Nations fight against Dan Kelly: