At UFC Lincoln, middleweight Eryk Anders plans to apply the lessons learned against Lyoto Machida in his last outing, as he faces ‘The South Jersey Strangler’ Tim Williams. He’s also chipping in outside the cage to help someone with an even bigger fight ahead: Trey Hodges, who’s in need of a heart transplant.
Middleweight standout Eryk Anders (10-1) returns to action at UFC Lincoln this weekend, looking to bounce back from the first loss of his pro career. Last time we saw ‘Ya Boi’ he was headlining UFC Belem against the legendary Lyoto Machida. While a valiant effort, the scorecards were not in Anders’ favor that night. Dropping a split decision in Machida’s home town, Anders is building on the experience as he gets set to face Tim Williams in Lincoln.
Cageside Press spoke with Anders ahead of the fight, and discussed the takeaways from his loss to Machida, the fight with Williams, and giving back with an incredible charity effort ahead of UFC Lincoln.
On the subject of UFC Belem, Anders told us that the biggest thing he learned was “seeing how the judges see fights.” Of course, a split decision loss is never fun. Yet Anders certainly had his moments in the fight, and Machida never really hurt him. “He really didn’t land anything heavy, he just chipped away with leg kicks,” Anders explained. “Which during the fight, every time he kicked me I was like ‘you know that didn’t have anything on it, it didn’t hurt.’ It didn’t show in the fight, it didn’t effect the fight so I didn’t think the judges would count those as significant strikes.”
“When you look at the fight on paper,” he continued, “he has many more significant strikes than I do. But then if you watch the fight, it’s nothing but leg kicks.”
Asked if he’d do anything differently, ‘Ya Boi’ noted that “I had my moments, I had my opportunities. One thing that I would do, if I could go back, hindsight being 20-20, whenever I had him rocked, try not to wrestle.” Instead, “don’t smother myself, take a step back, and throw long range power punches. That’s the only thing I would have done different.”
After the Anders fight, Machida went on to knock out fellow veteran (and fellow Brazilian) Vitor Belfort with a stunning kick. Asked if he was surprised that Machida then jumped to Bellator, Anders frankly wasn’t. “How much more does he really have left? He was knocked out three fights in a row before me, I think finished in maybe four fights before me,” he said. “Edged out a narrow decision, then knocked out another older vet. I think there’s a lot of new younger guys in the middleweight division. Rather than fight them, and not necessarily ruining his legacy but ending his career on a bad note, he can end his UFC career with a highlight reel knockout, then go down to Bellator and probably be able to still hang with those guys.”
Taking a victory lap, in other words. For Anders, meanwhile, the future is now, and in the UFC. It’s been a long stretch of time off for the former LFA champ, who likes to stay active. “I love to fight, love everything about the sport, try to fight as often as possible,” he told us. However after the Machida fight, Anders was forced to have surgery on his elbow. That kept him out of training a few months. Once he got back in shape, there was another issue: timing. “I think the issue was, the first quarter of the year, a lot of middleweights had already fought or were about to fight,” he said. “I think it was just a timing issue.”
In the meantime, he kept “doing nothing but getting better, getting stronger, trying to evolve my game.”
With so many middleweights featuring on the New York card in November, Anders would love to make an appearance on that as well, if all goes well on Saturday. That means getting the win over Tim Williams (15-4), who lost his UFC debut to Oskar Piechota earlier this year. With a nickname like ‘The South Jersey Strangler’ you can bet Williams has a slick ground game, but where ever the fight goes, Anders is prepared. It’s a fight Anders was offered for his second bout in the UFC, but “for whatever reason, the fight didn’t happen.”
Now the pair finally get to throw down. And despite that slick ground game, it’s “status quo” in training. “There’s not one part of the game that I neglect, whether it’s jits off my back, wrestling,” said Anders. “Where ever the fight takes place, if he does find a way to get it to the ground, if he gets on top, I’m very confident in my ability to sweep, submit, or stand up.”
Anders sees the bout at UFC Lincoln going similar to his debut. “I think I’ll impose my will on Tim Williams. I’ll certainly be the bigger, stronger, faster guy in there.”
Before the bout Anders is doing something incredibly selfless, and that’s help raise money for Trey Hodges. Trey is in need of a heart transplant, and the UFC fan who gives the biggest donation to the cause will get four tickets to the show, Anders’ fight shorts, his UFC gym bag, and hotel accommodations. Anders, who has also spent time at the Ronald MacDonald House in Alabama, tries to do something similar each fight, an amazing gesture each and every time.
— Eryk Anders (@erykanders) July 31, 2018
Getting back to UFC Lincoln, Anders had a pretty straight forward prediction for his bout against Williams. “I think I’m going to knock him out,” he told us. “Tim Williams keeps that chin up real high.” Which is a window of opportunity Anders feels he can capitalize on. “I’ll make him miss, and counter with a left, and put him down,” he finished.
UFC Lincoln, a.k.a. UFC Fight Night 135, takes place August 25 at the Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln, Nebraska. The main event features lightweights Justin Gaethje vs. James Vick in a grudge match. Eryk Anders vs. Tim Williams opens up the main card on Fox Sports 1 (TSN 5 in Canada).