Forget Playing Pussyfoot: Eryk Anders Plans On Being First to Finish Theodorou at UFC 231

Eryk Anders UFC Lincoln
Eryk Anders, UFC Lincoln Credit: Mike Straus/Cageside Press

Eryk Anders plans on being the first man to finish Elias Theodorou, knowing the Canadian, who he feels likes to play pussyfoot in the octagon, has the home town advantage at UFC 231 if their fight goes to a decision.

Eryk Anders’ last trip to the octagon ended in brutal, and frankly scary fashion. The talented UFC middleweight collapsed from the sheer exhaustion of a short notice fight against Thiago Santos in Sao Paulo, Brazil. That was back in September. Healed up, rested, and recovered, however, he has a very different task ahead of him: a meeting with the UFC’s 14th ranked 185lb’er, Elias Theodorou. In the Canadian’s own back yard at UFC 231 in Toronto.

The Santos fight, taken on just six days notice at light heavyweight, officially ended in a referee stoppage at five minutes of the third round. In reality, Anders simply couldn’t continue, out of gas and under fire from elbows. Yet there was never one moment in the bout where Anders though he wouldn’t be able to make it through. Instead, it was just “go go go go go” situation, until he no longer could.

“I tried to wrestle a little bit, to hold him up against the cage to save my energy, kind of ration my energy a little bit,” he told Cageside Press. “But he’s a big strong guy, he knows his way around the cage, he’s had plenty of fights.”

Asked whether he’d ever been that tired in either football or fighting, the former Crimson Tide linebacker, who had stints in the NFL, CFL, and AFL, answered “Hell no!”

“I can’t say that the elbows didn’t have an effect either,” he added. “It’s just a combination of being tired and taking elbows to the dome.” And it’s a fight he’d still take today if given the opportunity. “I love fighting, I truly think this is my calling, what I’m meant to do. I’m happy fighting, fighting makes me happy. I would, absolutely. They know who to call for a short notice fight.”

Thankfully, Anders had some time off booked after the fight. Regardless of medical suspensions dictating a vacation, Anders already a trip to Spain already planned for after Sao Paulo, which game him some time off.

“I come to end fights and finish fights and put on a show. He comes to dance around and play pussyfoot.”

Refreshed and rejuvenated, however, the UFC booked him against Theodorou, who Anders had called out previously. We spoke to Elias backstage at UFC Moncton, where he told reporters that he’d come a long way since his own fight with Thiago Santos years ago — and that he planned to drag Anders into deep waters.

To that, Anders told us ahead of their fight at UFC 231 that Elias was reading too much into his most recent outing. Besides which, in the Canadian’s own fight against Santos, “he had a longer camp.”

“I’ve fought for twenty-five minutes before. Not a problem,” Anders explained. “Not even breathing hard afterward. It’s not an issue, I don’t think he’s going to be able to drag me into any depth of water. I think I’ll be dictating the fight, the pace and the range of this particular fight.”

Theodorou also made the widely reported claim that the difference between them was like “the difference between chess and checkers.” To that, Anders quipped that “I’m not even sure if he knows how to play chess.”

“Look at the way I fight, look at the way he fights,” he suggested. “I come to end fights and finish fights and put on a show. He comes to dance around and play pussyfoot. We’ll see who imposes their will on December 8.”

Having said all that, there’s no animosity between the two, at least from where Anders sits. “He’s just in that top fifteen. It’s just a business move for me, nothing more.” To date, Anders has proven a smart businessman in the fight game, calling out opponents, always thinking one step ahead. That and his willingness to take on all comers has seen him headline two cards within his first eighteen months in the UFC. Now, he’s on the undercard for his first PPV event.

Looking for the finish in Toronto, the plan is to “get the win, go home and celebrate.”

Eryk Anders, UFC Belem
Eryk Anders, UFC Belem Credit: Foto Arena LTDA/Alamy Live News

“Once he feels my strength and power, he’s going to want to keep his distance, or keep it really close,” he said of what he expects from Theodorou on Saturday night, “and try and push me up against the cage and hold me there. I don’t think he’s going to have very much success doing either one of those.”

On the flip side, the key to victory for Anders is to “go out there and be me, go out there and impose my will, and crush him.” He feels that pressure and volume will make the difference. “It’s no secret, he doesn’t like to get hit and I plan on hitting him a lot. He’s never been finished and I plan on being the first one to finish him. I think it’s going to be a more exiting fight than people think.”

There’s another motivating factor for being the first to finish Elias Theodorou: “I’ve fought in other people’s home towns before like Machida. So right now I’ve got to go out there and get a finish, because if it’s even remotely close, they’re going to give the decision to him.”

With a win, Anders once again plans on another callout, deftly plotting his career course fight by fight. And he’s hoping that in 2019, he gets another four fights, as he did this year. Only, perhaps with a little more balance. “Every two to three months is a lot better than one [fight], than wait six months then fight three times in four months.”

“Spread it out a little bit more,” Anders suggested, though he admitted that “those decisions are out of my hand.”

As to the other key fights in the 185lb division right now, Eryk Anders gave us his take on how they might play out. “I think Israel Adesanya’s going to knock Anderson Silva out,” he predicted. “Anderson Silva’s a little over the hill. Israel’s hot, I think he’s the guy in the middleweight division right now.”

The pair face off at UFC 234 in February, as do Robert Whittaker and Kelvin Gastelum. “Robert Whittaker, he’s been in there with Yoel Romero, who I think is the next guy. Kelvin Gastelum always finds a way to win.” A tougher one to call, essentially. “I think the champ is going to keep his belt, but that one’s kind of up in the air. But I think for sure Israel Adesanya finishes The Spider.”

Eryk Anders faces Elias Theodorou at UFC 231 this Saturday, December 8 at the Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The fight airs as part of the televised preliminary card live on Fox Sports 1 (TSN 4 in Canada).