Elias Theodorou released by UFC, sources say

The UFC has surprisingly released former ranked middleweight contender Elias Theodorou, sources confirmed to ESPN on Sunday night.

Theodorou's release was first reported by Brazilian website Combate.

Theodorou (16-3) lost to Derek Brunson by unanimous decision in the co-main event of UFC Ottawa earlier this month. The Canada native was informed of his release Wednesday, sources said. He had been with the UFC for five years.

Before that defeat, Theodorou, 30, was on a three-fight winning streak and had cracked the UFC's top-15 middleweight rankings. Overall, Theodorou held an 8-3 record in the UFC and won The Ultimate Fighter: Nations middleweight crown in 2014.

Theodorou was popular among fans on social media and works as a "ring boy" for women's MMA promotion Invicta FC, though has been criticized for his deliberate style. Only two of his 11 UFC fights were finishes. Theodorou has also been vocal about bringing more acceptance of cannabis into MMA, attempting to gain a medical exemption from UFC anti-doping partner USADA for marijuana use.

The UFC did not respond to a request for comment.