Prior to each UFC fight card, Jay Primetown takes a look at some of the key contests at each event. In the latest installment, we preview the main event of UFC Fight Night 137 as Eryk Anders takes on Thiago Santos in a light heavyweight clash.
Eryk Anders (Record: 11-1, +125 Underdog, Power Ranking: C+)
Born in the Philippines on an American Air Force base in the Philippines, Eryk Anders moved to Texas as a teenager and picked up American football. Anders 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. He later transitioned to MMA and is headlining a UFC card for the second time at UFC Fight Night 137.
The high level athlete has done well since debuting in the UFC in July 2017. He’s won three of his four fights with the lone loss a controversial split decision to Lyoto Machida. Anders has a really good motor and does well to pressure opponents. His best attribute on the feet is a powerful left hand. He keeps his left hand ready at all times and looks to pounce once he finds an opportunity. He can be hittable at times, but his grinding style and work rate make him a difficult opponent especially as the rounds extend on. One area where he has struggled is tentativeness when looking for a finish. He tends to not overextend himself. While that can be a decent tactic, it allows opponents to stay in fights and forces Anders to fight longer each bout than he should need.
Thiago Santos (Record: 18-6, -155 Favorite, Power Ranking: C+)
The TATA Fight Team middleweight had been on the best form of his career winning five of his last six bouts in the UFC including a knockout of surging light heavyweight Anthony Smith. This is Santos first ever main event in the UFC.
A black belt in muay thai and a purple belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Santos has become a well-rounded mixed martial artist. He’s made real strides to develop his game especially improving his takedown defense. He was only taken to the mat once by Elias Theodorou which is an impressive accomplishment considering Theodorou’s grueling style. Santos wants to keep his opponent on the feet where he has a big advantage over most opponents. Santos has a heavy kicking game and is a very capable finisher with his legs. He is not only capable of landing decisive kicks to the body, but also to the head. Santos excels when he’s able to stand at range and power into his kicks. His biggest weakness is on the ground. While Santos has improved in the grappling exchanges, it’s still his weakest MMA element overall and one where he can be exposed by fighters with advanced jiu jitsu. Still, that requires his opponents finding a way to get him to the ground which is no easy feat.
A competitive fight has been booked to headline UFC Fight Night 137 as both Eryk Anders and Thiago Santos move up to light heavyweight. This is an interesting bout as it is a great test for both fighters. For Anders, it is a real step up in competition and is the most dangerous opponent he has ever faced. For Santos, he’s tasked with fighting an opponent with a great motor and one he’ll need to outwork over a period of time to win. While Santos is known as a finisher, I don’t expect this fight to end early. With a lot on the line for both opponents, I expect both to start tentatively and not to expose themselves early in this fight. The key to this bout will how much success Anders can have fighting this bout at close distance. Santos will have a significant advantage at distance with his highly potent leg kicks. I expect Anders to make this a physical fight and force Santos into a tough contest. With the total set at only 1.5 rounds, there is a nice opportunity to play the over. With the tentative nature of the start of this fight, I expect this bout to sail over the total in what should be a tight contest. Over 1.5 at (-140) is the recommended play on this bout.
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