Prior to each UFC card, Jay Primetown takes a close look at debuting fighters. In the latest installment, we look at exciting middleweight prospect Eryk Anders as he makes his debut against former Top 15 middleweight Rafael Natal. 

Eryk Anders

Hometown: Birmingham, Alabama
Age: 30
Height: 6-foot-2
Reach: 77 inches
Weight Class: Middleweight
Camp: Spartan Fitness
Career Record: 7-0
Key Wins: Brendan Allen
Key Losses: None

Background

Born in the Philippines on an American Air Force base in the Philippines, Anders moved to Texas as a teenager and picked up American football. He excelled in the sport and received a scholarship from the University of Alabama. As a senior, he started all 14 games and led the team in tackles in the BCS Championship game against Texas.

Strengths

  • Excellent athlete
  • Heavy left hand
  • Strong ground and pound
  • Underrated offensive wrestling

Weaknesses

  • Endurance is an issue if forced into a grueling fight
  • Can be taken to the mat if fatigued
  • Still rather green

Fighter Grade

Offensive Striking: C
Striking Defense: C-
Knockout Power: B-
Athleticism / Speed: B+
Footwork: C
Chin: C
Offensive Wrestling: C
Takedown Defense: D+
Submissions: D
Conditioning: D+
Intangibles: C

Overall Grade: C

Matchup with Rafael Natal

In what will be a solid barometer of his ability, Anders makes his UFC debut against the Brazilian veteran Natal. Both men are similar in size, within an inch of each other in regards to height and reach. That said, the difference in athletic ability is significant. Natal is a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioner turned MMA fighter while Anders was a starter and lead defensive player on Alabama’s 2009 NCAA national championship football team. That athleticism should absolutely come into play in this fight. Anders has heavy hands and the footwork to match it. In any prolonged standing exchange, Natal is going to be in trouble. Anders has a decent offensive wrestling game, but he does not want to be on the ground with a submission grappler like Natal. Anders has the ability to keep this fight standing and win by knockout. My biggest concern for him is fatigue. If Natal turns this into an ugly, physical fight, Anders could be worn out after taking this bout on short notice. When tired, Anders could be taken to the mat, and Natal could threaten with submissions. The odds for this fight were just released, and I’ll be looking at the Anders by knockout prop if priced above +300.

UFC Ceiling

Anders is a very good athlete, and in a division like 185 pounds, that can go a long way to being competitive. He combines that athleticism with powerful striking and offensive wrestling. He’s certainly still green from an experience perspective, but he’s also one of the best middleweights to enter the UFC in the past few years and has the potential to be a Top 15 or even a Top 10 middleweight if he continues to add skills to his repertoire. 

Fight Film

Check out Anders in some of his most recent fights…

Anders vs. Brendan Allen

Anders vs. Jon Kirk

Anders vs. Brian White

Interview on The Parting Shot

 


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