Tom Theocharis takes on Brandon Bell at HRMMA 119 on Saturday night in the co-main event set in the welterweight division. The 27-year-old fighting out of London, Ont. will be plying his trade at the Sloan Convention Center in Bowling Green, Ky. for this next outing.
It’s been a fairly tumultuous timeline leading into this one, but Theocharis remains hyper-focused on a bout that he sees as beneficial on a number of levels.
“I think I’m just going through the roadblocks and I’m being so persistent just because I love this matchup so much. I got offered this matchup and, within two minutes, I looked this guy up, saw maybe three of his fights and I’m like ‘yes I’m in.’ He was ranked number one in Tennessee and Kentucky, he’s a Bellator vet, he’s older of age turning 37 this year, and he’s five-foot-six. If you know me, if you know my training style, and you know my fighting style I’m known in the gym for being able to use my reach and implementing that in my game plan,” said Theocharis in an interview with MMA Empire.
“Fighting a guy that’s five-foot-six, I’m just going to be able to utilize that reach in a much better fashion. I’m out-reaching guys in practice with a larger reach than me. I mean, if I’m fighting a guy that’s five-foot-six, I’m pretty sure I’ll be able to utilize my reach in a well-mannered fashion. I know his game plan already, he’s going to look to take me down. He’s got relentless wrestling, but he’s got terrible cardio. I could go three rounds easily, he can’t. He’s got one round in him, so I’m looking to kind of impose my will against his.”
The training dynamic ahead of this one has been multifaceted and with Theocharis’ last bout being in Nov. 2019, he is looking forward to showcasing what he described as “a completely different fighter.”
“The tools I’ve been able to utilize in moving to Toronto are insane. GSP was talking on Bisping’s podcast, the reason why Canadians haven’t grown so much in the MMA world as of recently is because we’re so spread out. We’re fighting against each other. But here in Toronto, we have such a small community of fighters. I’ve got three wrestling coaches like Chad Pierce, Dave Garvin, Chris Prickett. Ryan Dickson is a guy that I’ve been training with a lot. He’s a black belt in jiu-jitsu, he’s obviously a pro,” said Theocharis.
“I’m training with Aaron Jeffery a lot, training with Elias (Theodorou), who’s my main training partner basically. Joey George, who was the Lion Fights champ at 185, I’d go down to Kitchener and train with him, and Brock wrestlers obviously at NTT. There’s just so many people that are kind of gathered into my training camp. It’s just the skill set that they kind of bring in and teach me is insane. I’ve grown exponentially throughout the last six months, three months, four months. I’ve just grown so much as a fighter.”
UFC fighter TJ Laramie is normally a fixture in Theocharis’ corner, but there is a multitude of factors informing why the former TKO/ PFC featherweight champion will not be one of the seconds this time out.
“He was supposed to come and corner me, obviously, but I felt bad at the same time asking him. He was always so down to do it, just because he’s not only one of my training partners, he’s one of my best friends. He just always likes to take care of me it seems like. He’ll come down to Toronto and he’ll be teaching me the whole time, not only about fighting, but nutrition as well,” said Theocharis.
“If it was a circumstance where I’d made him come with me and then the UFC were to call and be like ‘hey you’re fighting in six weeks,’ I would feel bad, not only for TJ, but for Rino (Belcastro) as well, who’s his coach. I feel like I’d be taking him away from Rino, who is a great guy, and I would feel like I’m letting both of them down. So, it’s better off that he just doesn’t come with me. What I’m doing is I’m getting people to corner me from Tennessee that I met last year for my fight.”
As he prepares for competition these days, Theocharis is backed by a strong supporting cast, from training partners, to coaches, to family and friends. But that wasn’t always the case, as Theocharis’ parents were not privy to the MMA journey at first.
Theocharis said they didn’t know about his first three fights and then a work buddy of his dad’s ended up getting the elder Theocharis in the loop.
“Yeah, that was interesting. My first fight was actually in Detroit at the Joe Louis Arena. I mentioned to my parents that I was going there to the casino or something. My brother was going as well with a bunch of our friends, and the next Monday my dad found out and he just kind of reamed me out,” said Theocharis.
“Basically, what happened was they didn’t want me fighting at all and I would just be doing it behind their back. Then finally, after my third fight, which I’d won it by knockout for the third fight in a row, they’re like ‘okay just tell us next time.’ Because they knew I wasn’t going to stop and here we are now.”
There was a night and day difference from then on with the epiphany moment coming from how driven their son was.
His parents are more on board now as Theocharis readies to literally board and fly out to the United States. Theocharis is in a co-headlining feature on a pay-per-view and the folks are certainly noticing that measurable growth as well.
“They just saw how dedicated and passionate I was and they hadn’t seen that in me at all, with school or any other sport or anything else in life. I think they were impressed just by how dedicated I was and how disciplined I was. Then they started to kind of respect that, in that sense. So, that was kind of the shifting factor,” said Theocharis.
“They’re definitely proud of me and I feel like I’m starting to get a lot more kind of notoriety in the sport, just because of the journey I’ve been on and I’m the co-main event of a pay-per-view. For this fight in particular, I’ve gotten a lot more attention than previous fights. I don’t know if it’s just because I’m the co-main event or I don’t know, but it seems like this specific fight I’ve been getting a lot more attention, which is nice.”
“I’d like to thank my sponsorships as well. Muskoka Wake, Grantham Dairy, Sports Tree LTD, River Birch Landscapes, Stockie Chrysler Motors, SPM Financial, HB Framing. It’s a lot. One Bad, Crank Lite, Niagara Top Team, Adrenaline, Arkane Apparel, B-Clutch, Walk with Me Counselling, Bentley’s Bar Inn.” Follow Theocharis on social media: TWITTER, INSTAGRAM