Former Alabama college football national champion Eryk Anders is now a top middleweight prospect who’s eyeing a closer-to-home fight at UFC Nashville after controversial decision losses in Brazil and Canada.
At UFC 231, Elias Theodorou defeated Eryk Anders via split decision, and the reactions were mixed towards the end result. While Theodorou landed more total strikes (204) overall, many argued Anders landed the more significant and powerful strikes. Whether you agree with that or not is up to you, but this is now the second fight of Anders’ young career that he believes a win was stolen from him.
“I felt I landed more significant stuff, he hit me with punches that just didn’t do anything. Judges are supposed to look at Octagon control, aggression, takedown defense, and significant strikes not just who throws more punches in a round.”
The other occasion where Anders believes he had a win taken from him was in Brazil, against hometown favorite Lyoto Machida. Five rounds with “The Dragon” is never an easy task, but on social media that night, many had Anders as the close winner, but the judges decided otherwise (for what it’s worth, MMA media was on Anders’ side as well).
“I’ve learned I can’t leave a fight in the judges’ hands. I go out there and actively try to finish fights, but now more than ever I know I always have to look for the finish. I hate the touch-and-run style, for some reason judges love it. I’m not saying you have to go in there and be a brawler, but I don’t know how you touch-and-run the whole fight, almost get knocked out and somehow get your hand raised. It is what it is, got to adjust.”
Anders began his professional MMA career at 10-0 as one of the more feared prospects in the middleweight division. I believe that fear could still be there from opponents because of that left hand, but in his last four fights, he has suffered three losses, we have to wonder does that take a toll on confidence moving forward.
“No man, I’m very confident in my abilities. This is a brutal sport, there has to be a winner and a loser. That’s the game and we just move forward to improve ourselves win or lose.”
Eryk Anders is very open about where he would like to fight next, posting tweets about the idea of fighting at UFC Nashville next month. The UFC has added (what looks to be) a main event in Stephen Thompson vs. Anthony Pettis but not many other fights have been officially announced yet. Anders is hopeful that Dana White may give him a call to get on the somewhat close to home card. It may seem after “three road games” as the former football player called it that he is deserving for a home one.
“I’ve fought in Brazil twice, Canada, I’ve gone to everyone else’s house I want a home game now, Nashville is only a couple hours up the road from me,” Anders continued, “The UFC doesn’t owe me anything, I asked for all those fights knowing where they were and against who so they owe me nothing but it’d be nice to get on the Nashville card.”
It is known the 2009 National Champion is looking to get on the card but now he is going to need a dance partner inside the octagon. When asking him who he had in mind, he had plenty of names to think of and in different weight divisions as well.
“I’ll do anyone at middleweight or light heavyweight, doesn’t matter. I’d like to fight Ed Herman, I like the way he fights and brings it. I’ve seen Zac Cummings liking some tweets about us fighting so I mean whatever the UFC wants. 185, 205, I don’t care just send a contract.”
With UFC Nashville only a little over a month away, I asked Anders how ready he felt, and if he is training as if in fight camp mode even without a promise of being on the card. Many fighters have a multitude of differences in the gym when in an actual fight camp versus just training and “staying ready.” Anders does not change anything except for food intake, and thanks his wife for keeping him honest during fight week.
“I train the same always, fight or not. Only thing that changes for me is my eating habits. I indulge in pizza and burgers but once it is weight time I cut all of that, this is what I signed up for and sure I’d love to eat pizza during fight week but this is the profession I have chosen, my wife cooks up all the meals and keeps me honest, she’s my diet coach,” he laughed.
With the Superbowl approaching, and the former D1 Alabama football star on the phone, I ended our interview with his Super Bowl prediction and a possible Nick Saban story, but Anders wouldn’t give in.
“I’ve got plenty of Saban stories, he definitely grew my thick skin but that stuff stays in the locker room. If you’re going to be coached by him you have to be ready to be screamed at, but in the end, you win a national championship and all that yelling was worth it, got us prepared.”
Super Bowl Prediction: New England Patriots
Huge thanks to Eryk Anders, who is looking to get back in the win column in a potential UFC Nashville fight next month.