Eryk Anders steps up on just six days’ notice to face his toughest opponent to date, Thiago Santos, in the main event of UFC Fight Night 137. Anders is a former collegiate football player and has the athleticism like few in MMA has ever had, but will that alone be enough to beat the veteran?
Ya BoyAnders had a late start in the sport but just three years into his career he has amassed an 11-1 record overall and a 3-1 record inside the Ultimate Fighting Championship. He has shown to be an ultra-aggressive striker but has toned it down a bit since joining the UFC and is slowly but surely turning into a legitimate martial artist despite his lack of experience.
Anders’ last fight was under a month ago and he earned one of the best knockouts of the year against Tim Williams. As Williams was standing up, Anders landed a perfectly timed kick to the jaw at an opportunistic time. Often, there is an unspoken rule in the cage where both fighters will reset for a second during transitions or moments like this. But at the end of the day, the fight is not over until the horn sounds and Anders taking advantage of moments like this shows his evolution as a fighter.
American Football is the most aggressive, fast-paced and explosive sport in the world and few have the raw athleticism required for success in the sport. Anders’ athleticism and explosiveness translated well to his MMA career early on and opponents had no idea what to do about his pressuring and aggressive style. Although he has toned down the aggression in fear of being countered, he will still show flashes of this explosiveness and is starting to learn the perfect medium of knowing when to be pull the trigger and when to slow things down and pace himself.
Since Anders is usually the aggressor, he backs his opponents to the fencing often, where he arguably does his best work. Since he lacks the technical ability of most in the UFC, turning bouts into a dogfight and trading in the pocket against the cage is one of the ways he can deter the opponents’ striking. He doesn't offer creative ways to back his opponents up, but thus far his aggression alone is enough to get the job done.
Anders stands southpaw, which is odd for someone with his lack of experience, but he possesses a slick left straight in the few moments he chose to strike at distance. When he’s not working on the lead, Anders like to sit back and counter with his left straight and has incredible countering instincts for someone of his experience. As mentioned earlier, Anders is starting to find his happy medium of being the aggressor and knowing when to sit back and his last few fights showed he is getting more comfortable working under such circumstances.
Anders’ freakish athleticism has translated into him having legit power in his hands. Of his 11 wins, seven are via knockout, including his Octagon debut against Rafael Natal. Anders has also shown to be a quick finisher, with 6 of those knockouts coming in the first round. Many thought his aggressive, fast-paced style would not hold up for five frames, but that was quickly shut down when he nearly beat Lyoto Machida last February and never slowed down once throughout the 25-minute contest. Taking a fight on six days’ notice is obviously extremely risky, but he possesses a skill set that could cause major problems for Santos.