The idea of energy levels in people is a very subjective topic. Some “high-energy” people are not necessarily physically energetic, just more anxious and nervous. Some folks have a very high physical-energy level, where they always need to be moving, but mentally, they may be fairly laid back. However, there is always that one group that rides the line. These are the ones that need more than a stress ball or a good book to let out energy.
Former Alabama football standout and current professional fighter Eryk Anders is a physical beast, but he also has a lot going on upstairs. He was part of an NCAA Division I national football champion team in 2010. He has a college degree in health studies. He’s a father and a husband, and he is also one of six brothers and sisters. He came from a high-energy environment, and he leads a high-energy life.
“I eat and breathe MMA,” Anders told Combat Press. “I train, I coach, I teach. That’s all I do. Without some sort of physical competition to get the energy out, it’s just not for me. I need this. It’s therapeutic.”
In addition to the occasional cross-training at Alan Belcher’s gym during fight camps, Anders spends most of his time at his home gym, Spartan MMA & Fitness in Birmingham, Ala. That’s where he was training when he won the Legacy Fighting Alliance middleweight championship in June, and that’s where he was when he found out that the UFC needed him 30 days later.
Anders entered the Octagon on July 22 as a short-notice replacement against 16-fight UFC veteran Rafael Natal. It only took two minutes and 54 seconds for Anders to secure the first cold-cock knockout of his career.
“It went great,” Anders said. “I went out there and got the first-round knockout against a UFC vet. It was definitely a step up in the right direction.”
The win over Natal immediately put Anders into the spotlight as a force. For his 10th pro fight and second UFC outing, Anders will face promotional newcomer and fellow LFA middleweight champ Markus Perez on Saturday night at UFC Fight Night 123 in Fresno, Calif.
The undefeated Perez, like Anders, made big waves in the LFA when he entered the cage as a relative unknown and submitted hometown grappler Ian Heinisch in the first round, shocking the crowd. When Anders had his original opponent pull out of UFC Fight Night 123, Perez got the call and gladly accepted.
The match-up between Perez and Anders is an interesting one. Both men are still relatively new to the sport’s highest level, but they have shown they can win anywhere the fight goes.
“He’s 9-0. He likes to come forward and put guys against the cage,” Anders said. “I think I’ve got my work cut out for me, but I’m very confident to go out there and get the victory. It’s always the same, no matter who I’m fighting. I have a lot of confidence in my preparation. I’m well coached, well trained and well conditioned, so when the fight takes place, I think I’ll have the advantage.”
With a lot of eyes on Anders after his UFC debut, he is ready to make another statement and continue his climb up the UFC middleweight ranks. As he said, fighting is therapeutic, and that is where all of his energy goes.
“I’ve got about 11 family members coming out to this fight — two of my brothers, my wife, some cousins, and both my kids,” Anders said. “There is going to be a lot of Anders in the crowd. I definitely want to move my way up the ladder. I want my next opponent to be a top-25 guy, then a top-20, then a top-15, and eventually work my way up to the belt.”
While no fighter worth his salt looks past his current opponent, Anders does have his sights set on a specific event as he enters 2018.
“I know in February, the UFC is going to Austin, which is only 80 miles from my hometown in San Antonio, and any chance I get to fight in Texas, that close to my hometown, I’m chomping at the bit,” he said.
Anders is an athletic machine, but he is a very intelligent guy with a college degree as well. He tried the office-stooge lifestyle. It wasn’t for him. Fighting is his outlet. It’s his therapy.