Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Middleweight grinders Brad Tavares and Elias Theodorou will throw down this Friday (July 7, 2017) at The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 25 Finale inside T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Tavares won seven of his first eight UFC fights, breaking into the rankings and positioning himself as a contender. Believe it or not, he was actually the betting favorite ahead of his bout with Yoel Romero! He ran into a rough patch beginning with that fight, but the Hawaiian has since bounced back to some degree. Meanwhile, Theodorou hasn’t necessarily been impressing, but he’s been winning! The Canadian TUF champion has only come up short once in six appearances, and he recently earned his spot at No. 15 in the division.
Let’s take a look at the keys to victory for each man:
Key Wins: Lorenz Larkin (UFC Fight Night 35), Nate Marquardt (UFC 182), Caio Magalhaes (UFC 203)
Key Losses: Yoel Romero (UFC on FOX 11), Robert Whittaker (UFC Fight Night 65), Tim Boestch (UFC Fight Night 47)
Keys to Victory: Looking at Tavares’ recent record, it’s clear that his biggest issue has been level of competition. Two of the men who stopped him are fighting for a world title, whereas he was picking apart Tim Boetsch prior to one of “The Barbarian’s” signature come-from-behind victories.
Outside of those fights, Tavares’ volume kickboxing, punctuated by nasty low kicks, and sturdy takedown defense has been damn successful.
This is an interesting contest between a pair of fighters who consistently win via points. Tavares actually puts some heat on his opponent but isn’t blessed with much knockout power, whereas Theodorou is one of the best at appearing busy with nonsense kicks and iffy takedown attempts.
Tavares should be able to out-work Theodorou consistently at range, he just needs to be aware of the scorecards. If he takes time off to rest, Theodorou will be scoring points that don’t actually do anything. Tavares cannot let that happen, and he should punt the Canadian’s leg each time he tries some flashy kick from 10 yards away.
Key Wins: Sam Alvey (UFC Fight Night 89), Cezar Ferreira (UFC Fight Night 105), Bruno Santos (UFC Fight Night 54)
Key Losses: Thiago Santos (UFC Fight Night 80)
Keys to Victory: Theodorou is one of the division’s better physical prospects, a quality athlete with a reasonably well-rounded game. He pushes a hard pace, generally getting better as the fight wears on and his opponent slows down.
Realistically, Theodorou has two modes as a fighter. He’s at his most effective when he can grind takedowns along the fence, landing hard ground strikes and some pretty solid clinch blows as well. When he cannot contain his foe, Theodorou relies more on an outside kicking game, which can sometimes be more style than substance.
Still, points are points.
In this bout, a mix of both strategies will be necessary. If Theodorou can keep it relatively even on the feet — something his odd style often achieves — then any grappling success could be the deciding factor.
A clean takedown is probably unlikely, as Tavares is really tough to drag down. That said, even control in the clinch could be big, as the chances of this be a close, low scoring fight are quite high.
Bottom Line: It’s a match up of fringe contenders.
For Tavares, it’s his chance to fully rebound and return to the rankings. Defeating Theodorou has proven to be a difficult task, one that will test his ability to score points in a kickboxing match. That’s his bread-and-butter, so he better be able to make it work in this match up.
Otherwise, that rebound just ain’t gonna happen.
As for Theodorou, this is his chance to further prove himself as a top Middleweight. Tavares isn’t a world-beater, but he’s never lost to any scrubs either. It’s a very solid win for Theodorou’s resume, and it’s also a great opponent for him to show improvement opposite, as Tavares isn’t likely to suddenly crack him with a knockout blow. It’s a pretty safe bet this one will go to a decision, meaning Theodorou should take some chances.
If Theodorou comes up short here, it’s a major setback. He’s just now dipping his feet into the rankings after a tough string of fights, and losing that position so quickly will hurt. His style isn’t always the most exciting, meaning it will also be a slow climb back up the ladder.
At TUF 25 Finale, Brad Tavares and Elias Theodorou will face off. Which man will have his hand raised?