Making his LFA debut on Friday night, Eryk Anders will look to continue his undefeated run after a prolonged and successful amateur career has been followed by six wins in a row since turning professional.
The 29-year-old spoke to MMA Plus ahead of his LFA 6 bout with journeyman Jon Kirk who has stepped in to take the place of original opponent Larry Crowe on a weeks notice. Anders (6-0) would reveal just how he found his way into the sport of MMA after a successful college football career with Alabama where he played as a Linebacker.
“I’ve always been a fan of the sport,” explained Anders.
“After I got done playing college football, I got on the Cleveland Browns for a hot second then went up to Canada and played some arena ball and then got a desk job. I was unsatisfied with life, unfulfilled and needed an outlet so I walked into an MMA gym, started training.
“I got beat up my first night but at the end, I thought ‘I can do this’. I didn’t necessarily think it would turn into a career where this is what I do full-time but I’m glad this evolution has come and I’m excited to see what the future holds.”
Anders reveals difficult transition to MMA after years dedicated to another sport
Despite already establishing himself as a top-level athlete, Anders is quick to point out just how challenging it was for him to switch sports and the different demands that have been brought onto himself and his body through his new training regime.
“The movements of a linebacker and the movements required for boxing and kickboxing aren’t very similar,” warns the Texan.
“When I played linebacker, there was a lot of forwards, backwards and side to side and a lot of stepping over but in MMA, if you cross your feet that spells disaster for you.”
Anders explains the benefits of having 23 amateur fights under his belt
With no combat sport fundamentals to lean on when starting out in MMA, Anders would take his time in learning the basic skills all at once. Having no background in any form of the sport previously, he would enjoy an extensive 23 fight amateur career before turning professional in order to gain the experience he felt he needed to compete.
“I went 19-3-1 in my amateur career and the reason I took so long to turn professional is because I didn’t have a pre-existing skill set. I wasn’t an NCAA Division I wrestler, I had zero boxing experience so knew nothing other than fighting in the street which doesn’t translate over whatsoever to MMA. I had to learn several different skill sets and that was something I didn’t want to rush and clearly something I felt I needed to take my time with.
“I knew when I turned pro that things would happen fast given my background and once you turn pro, you can’t turn back.”
Asked if he felt a longer time spent as an amateur had been hugely beneficial for his career, Anders was adament that it was a cornerstone of the success he’s having since turning pro as well as surrounding himself with good people that he both knows and trusts helped him avoid pulling the trigger too soon.
“I had 23 fights and feel I improved with each one,” exclaimed Anders.
“I don’t have ‘yes men’ around me who say you should do this or whatever. I’ve got very loyal people around me telling me what I need to hear and not necessarily what I want to hear. Of course I thought I was ready to go pro before I did but coaches, teammates said ‘hey you need to take a few more fights’ because you lack in this area or because you need to improve here.
“I listened to what they said and now I don’t feel there’s too many flaws in my game at this point.”
With his most recent victory, a 23 second TKO win over Brian White at Bellator 162 prelims, it’s surprising that Bellator did not make moves to keep someone on the roster who was both undefeated and coming off of an impressive and destructive performance. Although there had been some conversation about another bout, Anders says that radio silence on the Californian promotion’s end caused him to seek oppertunities elsewhere.
“After the fight, I talked to some of the higher ups and talked about wanting to fight again for them and they were impressed, liked what they saw and we sold a lot of tickets for that fight. After that there was no talk and we didn’t hear anything,” said the rising middleweight prospect
“I’m not going to beg so when one door closes, another opens.”
Anders keen to make the most of his new oppertunities with LFA
The door that would open for the San Antonio native was that of the newly-formed LFA which is the result of the merger between Legacy FC and RFA. Known to be one of the UFC’s main feeder promotions, LFA offers the oppertunity for Anders to make a name for himself starting with this Friday night against Kirk.
Not only will “Frankenstein” be making his promotional debut, he will also get the oppertunity to fight in his hometown of San Antonio, Texas. Despite now living in Alabama, the thought of getting back home to fight in front of his family and friends excites Anders and makes LFA 6 a special show for him.
“What better opportunity than to go do the thing I love in front of the people that I love so I’m definitely excited and chomping at the bit to get into that cage in San Antonio on Friday night.
“Family, friends, high school coaches, teachers and a lot of people I grew up with are still in the area so I’m expecting a packed house and a lot of support from them.”
Looking to the future, Anders has his sights firmly set on becoming the first LFA Middleweight champion with the strap currently vacant. His main goal however is to earn his call-up to the UFC and take on the best middleweights in the world.
“I’m currently undefeated and will remain undefeated after Friday but there’s a guy called Trevin Giles who’s on a hot streak just now and he’s also undefeated at 9-0 so I would like to fight him for the middleweight title.
“I hope to fight as often as I did last year, rack up some wins and hopefully I get the call sooner or later but eventually that call will come. If I keep doing what I’m doing and winning in the same devastating fashion, UFC won’t be able to deny me.”