Eryk Anders Victorious at UFC 263
UFC middleweight fighter and former Alabama linebacker Eryk Anders was victorious in his rematch with Darren Stewart at UFC 263 Saturday night Gila River Arena in Glendale, Arizona. The fight went three full rounds and Anders was declared the winner by unanimous decision as the judges' scorecards read 29-27, 29-27 and 29-28.
"Anything less than a win, you know, I couldn't have it," Anders said post fight. "I think it was 1-1 going into that third round and I knew I had to have that round. Once I got on top, I knew I wasn't going anywhere."
Anders ends a two-fight skid dating back to October 2019 (split-decision over Gerald Meerschaert) including a unanimous decision loss to Krzysztof Jotko in May 2020 and his first bout with Stewart, which ended in a no-contest after Anders hit Stewart with an illegal knee to the head in March of last year.
This time around, Anders said the game plan was to wear Stewart down, primarily in the clinch, where much of the fight took place. Anders held control of the fight from that position for much of the fight in the judges eyes, leading to the victory.
"I think the game plan worked," Anders said. "I think he was pretty tired going into that third round, and that’s how whenever we started wrestling, I got on top, he wasn’t able to scramble up, get up, which he’s been able to do in the past. Even the first time that we fought, I took him down, he was able to get back up. But I knew in the third round I would have the cardio advantage.”
Anders added it wasn't his intention to ride the fight out to a decision, citing that he had been on the wrong end of some scorecards in the past and was looking to finish Stewart off. His ground and pound late in the fight was certainly one of the many deciding factors that leaned the fight in his favor.
Anders moves his MMA career record to 14-5 while his UFC record stands at 6-5.
Anders played for Alabama from 2006-2009, recording 98 tackles, 19 for a loss and 8.5 sacks, including a strip sack late in the 2009 national championship game against Texas that helped seal the victory for the Crimson Tide.
Anders says he'll take the Summer off and looks forward to getting back in the octagon in late-October, early-November.