As far as Elias Theodorou is concerned, he has two obstacles to overcome when he travels down to Texas.
Firstly, The Ultimate Fighter Nations middleweight tournament winner will look to remain undefeated by dispatching Roger Narvaez at UFC 185 in Dallas March 14. Once that's dealt with, Theodorou (10-0 MMA, 2-0 UFC) plans to tear a scene straight out of the 1988 comedy The Great Outdoors.
“My whole career as a mixed martial artist, especially being undefeated, I'm kind of blissfully ignorant of my success,” Theodorou told UFC.ca during a recent phone interview. “I take note of it and am proud of everything I've done.
“To be (on the featured preliminary card) — and now with a couple UFC fights under my belt — it's no small feat. There's no time to waste, sit back and take in too much. That's why the day after my next fight, against Roger Narvaez, I can take a good day to enjoy myself. Since I'm in Texas, I'm going to try and eat a 72-ounce steak.”
However, should he conquer both challenges, the Mississauga, Ont. native will still be 14 ounces shy of the record set by Chet Ripley (played by the late John Candy). But much like the fight game, there's always time for improvement.
In terms of Theodorou's mixed martial arts career, the fight against Narvaez represents his biggest to date, as it will be his first on the televised preliminary card of a major pay-per-view. The headliner will see Anthony Pettis defend the UFC lightweight title against Rafael dos Anjos, with the prelims airing free on TSN 1, TSN 3 and TSN 4 at 8 p.m. ET.
Having competed predominantly across Canada throughout his career, Theodorou now has the opportunity to turns heads on a larger stage by delivering yet another dominant performance.
Thought he isn't taking anything for granted, Theodorou said he's ready to make a statement against Narvaez.
“Obviously this is an opportunity and I have to make the most of it,” Theodorou said. “I've worked so hard. My camp, in general was a great one. I went down to Brazil to train with Team Nogueira and certainly got it done there.
“I'm excited to show the world what I've been working so hard on. But that being said, I can't dwell on it.”
As for Narvaez, Corpus Christi, Texas native's previous outing saw him win a hard-fought split decision victory over Luke Barnatt in November to kick off his current stint in the UFC's middleweight division. Prior to besting Barnatt, he suffered a TKO loss to light-heavyweight Patrick Cummins after accepting the bout on short notice.
Theodorou said Narvaez's win against Barnatt proved he's dangerous up until the final bell.
“It was a great win for him,” Theodorou began. “Especially coming off the loss to Patrick Cummins, which was probably due to nerves and not being in his proper weight class. So in the fight with Luke, I think he showed some really good skills in terms of looking for opportunity and pouncing on it when it happens. It happened late in the third round when he whacked Luke with a kick, but that being said, he found it nonetheless.
“As a counterpoint, I think a lot of that had to do with Luke screwing the pooch. He was trying to be too fancy, threw out too much and gave the opportunity for Roger to pull it off.”
Though Theodorou was impressed by Narvaez's gritty victory, he feels it also proves why the Texan will struggle against him when the cage door shuts.
Theodorou has made a career of breaking opponents with a relentless, yet measured, attack. He said Narvaez will crumble like the rest.
“I bring a pace that he won't handle,” Theodorou said. “In his fights, he's kind of tentative. He's very eager to get the middle of the cage, but he doesn't really do much with it. I'm just basically going to throw all my tools at him and it's going to be too much.
“It's not about him, it's all about me.”
In Theodorou's mind, the fight is both his to win, and his to lose. As long as he doesn't get overly confident and make a glaring mistake, like Barnatt, Narvaez's windows of opportunity will be greatly diminished.
Then, should he notch yet another win on his UFC record, Theodorou's got a date with a gargantuan slab of beef.
“A lot of it depends on me being me,” Theodorou said. “I have to win. I'm going to lead this dance and get ready to kick butt.
“This is a test. I've studied and I'm going to ace the test. I've done that 10 times before and I'm looking forward to doing what I always do.”