For UFC middleweight/light heavyweight Eryk “Ya Boi” Anders (11-3-0), 2018 was an active year with mixed results. Four fights in a year for any fighter in the UFC is usually the max, but taking fights on short notice and in enemy territory has been a theme for Anders. He’s taken on the spartan mentality of taking fights at two different weight classes and appeased the UFC brass showing the willingness to fight whenever at the drop of a dime. For Anders, win or lose he loves to put on a show for the fans. Saturday night in Atlanta, GA on UFC 236 he looks to get back on the winning track in the light heavyweight division versus Khalil Rountree (8-3-0), which promises to deliver a stand up war for the fans.
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Headlining two cards in 2018 was a big feat for the former Alabama Crimson Tide Linebacker. Anders lost a controversial split decision to former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Lyota “The Dragon” Machida in Machida’s hometown of Sao Paulo, Brazil. For Anders, it was an opportunity at a big name in the sport as he was riding an undefeated record in MMA. “First name that jumps off is Machida,” Anders told UnknownMMA’s Rory Robinson in an interview as someone that was one of his favorite fighters before getting into MMA. The controversial loss didn’t hurt Anders’ momentum in the UFC as he was able to show how entertaining his push the pace and striking was to fans.
After sending Tim Williams to sleep with a vicious head kick knockout on August 25, 2018 he took on Thiago Santos in his only other light heavyweight fight on six days notice on September 22, 2018 in Belim, Brazil. He put on a war trading shots with the next contender to the UFC light heavyweight championship. Although he suffered his second defeat in the year, he was instantly a fan favorite by emptying his oxygen tank to exhaustion at the end of round 3. As the fight came to an end Anders continued to come forward trying to knockout and takedown Santos.
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“Ya Boi” returns Saturday on UFC 236 after another controversial decision loss to Elias Theodorou at middleweight on December 8, 2018 in Toronto, but this time at light heavyweight. The start of the new year brought new changes as Anders split his camp for the first time working with coach Mark Montoya at Factory X in Colorado along with his current coach Mark Conolley in Alabama. “It’s great. I know my cardio is going to be great. Coach Montoya has been great…I feel really prepared,” when asked about the move by UnknownMMA.com. Montoya has built a strong team in Colorado, which includes Anthony Smith who fought Jon Jones for the light heavyweight in March 2019.
The stylistic matchup Saturday versus Khalil Rountree features two vicious southpaw standup fighters who love to throw their heavy hands looking for the knockout. “He’s the most dangerous, especially early. He’s got that one punch knockout power,” Anders told Robinson, ranking him as his toughest opponent to date. “I think this fight favors me…but the longer it goes on the more it favors me,” he said. Most fans believe the fight ends early with a brutal knockout by Anders or Rountree, but the cardio may be the difference for Anders.
I had the opportunity to shoot some portraits of UFC middleweight, Eryk Anders this week! Thank you to Jason and Ohana Academy North East for being gracious hosts! Check out the rest of our photos at the link in my bio: UnknownMMA.com • • • • #mma #fighting #ufc #vitaminenergy #unknownmma #erykanders #yaboi #fighters #portraits #femmma
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Win or lose Saturday, don’t expect Anders to stick to one weight class in the UFC. He plans to continue to jump around middleweight and light heavyweight. “I like to fight and I like to fight often. I think being open to two different weight classes presents more opportunity for me. I feel like I’ll get their [championship opportunity] one way or another. Weight class it’s not irrelevant to me, but it’s not a big deal as it is to most other fighters,” he told UnknownMMA.com.
A post shared by Eryk Anders (@erykanders) on Apr 9, 2019 at 3:26pm PDT
No matter the outcome on Saturday, “Ya Boi” will continue to deliver the fan friendly fighting the UFC and most importantly, the fans want to see. His willingness to take on any opponent at any time and at both weight classes will continue to endear him to the UFC. The middleweight and light heavyweight division are on notice as any fight with Anders will be a long night. Securing a few wins starting Saturday will help secure bigger fights and eventual title shot. By the end of the year it isn’t just going to be Alabama fans screaming “ROLL TIDE!” when Anders enters the octagon.