Eryk Anders was riding a high after a devastating head kick knockout victory over Tim Williams at UFC Fight Night 135 in August. With the win, Anders was hoping he could fight a ranked opponent before the end of the year.
Well, Anders got his wish, but he was fighting 12 ranked middleweight Thiago Santos at light heavyweight in the main event for UFC Sao Paulo, just a month after his win over Williams. Anders took the fight on just days’ notice as the former Alabama linebacker flew to Brazil to fight in the main event.
The fight was fairly even with Anders scoring on takedowns and Santos scoring with strikes. However, at the end of the third round, Anders got up from the ground and collapsed, and with that referee, Marc Goddard called the fight off.
“I just wanted to lay down, just chill for a second,” Anders said to MMAFighting. “Obviously, the middle of the Octagon is not the place for that so once I talked to the doctors and all, they did take me to the hospital. But before all that I just went to the locker room and took a cold shower and laid down for a pretty good bit. I’ve never been that tired, that depleted or anything like that.”
While Anders lost the fight due to pure exhaustion, the 31-year-old knows he was having some success in the fight against one of the harder punches in the division. Ultimately, it was just the exhaustion that resulted in Anders having to lose the fight.
“I took all his punches, he kneed me in the face I’m pretty sure. I just kept coming forward, none of it really fazed me or anything,” Anders said. “Fighting for 15 minutes at the pace that we fought it was pretty taxing on the body, so it was fatigue, I’m not going to lie, he did hit me, of course. You look at my face you can definitely tell that I’ve been in a fight.”
While Santos did land some solid strikes on Anders, he was also hitting Santos back with some big blows and was forcing Santos to carry his weight when he took him to the ground. That helped tire Santos out, and if Anders didn’t take this fight on short notice he believes he could have game planned better to win the fight.
“I kind of think that he was feeling the same way. Maybe not to the point where I was at, but he was getting tired as well,” Anders said. “He poked me in the eye and when we separated he went and sat down. It took him a while to get up after that second round. After the third round he doesn’t exactly pop up, so I think that I had I been in shape, I had a full camp, maybe this fight goes a different direction.”
While Anders lost the fight his stock is on the rise after putting on a solid showing against Santos. While it is likely he heads back to middleweight and chases a fight with Elias Theodorou at UFC 231, Anders is keeping his options open to what weight he will be fighting at moving forwards.
“I’m definitely open to taking (205-pound) fights,” he said. “Perhaps on more than a week’s notice, but I’m down to step in there at 205, middleweight, possibly heavyweight if the opponent is right. It’s not that I’m stuck at middleweight, ‘I’m gonna fight at middleweight and that’s it,’ no, that’s not true. I’m absolutely open to fight at light heavyweight and above if necessary. But I think for my career and longevity in this sport, I think that middleweight is going to need to be it.”
Would you like to see Eryk Anders vs. Thiago Santos again, but with both having a full training camp?
This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 9/25/2018.