|Jason Silva/USA TODAY Sports
Eryk Anders (right) during his short notice clash with Thiago Santos last year.
2019 is shaping up to be a busy year for the popular Eryk Anders, something we should be accustomed to with the highly active contender. I recently got the opportunity to chat with the middleweight and light heavyweight prospect once again, ahead of this weekend’s clash with TUF alumni Khalil Rountree Jr.
Attempting to snap his two-fight skid this Saturday in Atlanta, Georgia, 11-3 striker Eryk Anders found himself on the wrong side of a hugely contentious decision loss to Elias Theodorou last time out, perhaps hampered by Theodorou’s hometown status. Despite his current tenure a division higher at 205 pounds, ‘Ya Boi’ failed to rule out a re-run down the line; “I think the judges got it wrong that night, but it is what it is. If I return to middleweight I would imagine as I climb through the ranks we will meet again.”
The former Cleveland Browns footballer also spoke about recent heavyweight signee Grey Hardy, another former NFL star making his Octagon birth last year. Despite some rather controversial issues following Hardy into the sport, Anders believes the Defensive end can improve despite an illegal knee DQ loss to Allen Crowder in his debut; “I think everyone deserves a second chance. I feel his athleticism for the weight class is going to be a tremendous asset for him. I also feel at this point in his career he is mainly going off instinct but the more he fights the better he will be.” Hardy will make his second UFC walk this month in the co-main event of UFC Fight Night Fort Lauderdale against Dmitrii Smoliakov.
The last time we spoke, Anders was thrown into the spotlight in his main event clash with former light heavyweight champion and now Bellator MMA striker Lyoto Machida, again finding himself on the wrong side of an even more disputed decision. Despite the loss to ‘The Dragon’, Eryk is grateful for the opportunity to share the Octagon with one of the most iconic players in mixed-martial arts antiquity; “Any time you get in there with a former champion you gain invaluable experience. It was a good insight into how judges look at fights.”
Anders’ last promotional finish came against Tim Williams last summer, in a rather unconventional but devastating knockout. Anders reacted expertly to execute a head kick as Williams looked to get back to his feet after a grappling scramble; “Soccer kicks aren’t exactly techniques we practice in camp, but I noticed that he was using a technical get up but always kicked at me to get back up. I think he saw that he was short on time and thought he had to get up quickly so he didn’t kick or make space, so I just stepped in and let it rip.”
Similarly to UFC 236 opponent Rountree Jr., Anders possesses some legitimate power in both hands, and his physique offers him a huge advantage against many in this division, a weight class he isn’t opposed to leaping to and from; “I just want to see how I feel with a full camp at 205. That will determine which weight class I go to. I’m not opposed to fighting at both middleweight and light heavyweight.” Anders also promises a finish over Califonia’s Khalil this weekend; “I imagine we will both meet in the middle and let it rip. This fight ends with someone asleep on their back.”
Despite only making his organization bow two years ago, Anders will make the walk for an astonishing seventh time in Atlanta this weekend, competing four separate times last year alone, and has big plans ahead for the coming calendar year; “I like to stay active. I train all day every day and I’m always ready so when it comes fight time I just get in there and do me. I see myself finishing 2019 in the top fifteen of both middleweight and light heavyweight.”