Eryk Anders needed only 40 seconds to knock out Josh Raspberry in his professional mixed martial arts debut Saturday night.

Anders, a former University of Alabama linebacker, defeated Raspberry, of Bessemer, who was also making his professional debut, via a first-round TKO at the Belk Activity Center in Tuscaloosa.

After a mostly uneventful opening, Anders (1-0, 1 KO) dropped Raspberry (0-1) with a left-handed jab – his first connected punch, second thrown overall – 35 seconds into the fight, where the official then made his ruling.

“I train for every opponent like they’re the best,” Anders told WVUA23’s Gary Harris after the fight. “So I don’t see an opponent’s name, it’s just a body in front of me. I was ready to go five rounds if need to, but it’s always great to get in there and get it over with as soon as possible.”

Strikehard Productions, a Tuscaloosa-based MMA event promoter, put on the event, billed as Strikehard 40. Anders’ fight was a part of the production’s main card.

Anders played four seasons, from 2006-10, as a member of the Alabama football team and is best remembered for forcing the fumble that all but sealed the Crimson Tide’s win over Texas in the 2010 BCS National Championship Game in Pasadena, California.

Anders, a pass rushing specialist with the Crimson Tide, had 8.5 career sacks with the team, six his senior year. Following Alabama’s national championship win in 2010, Anders signed with the Cleveland Browns as an undrafted free agent but did not make the team.

Prior to turning pro, Anders, who says UFC is his ultimate goal, owned a career amateur record of 18-3-1. Anders said after the fight that his next match could be in October or December with Birmingham as a possible location.

Deontay Wilder, the current WBC world heavyweight champion in boxing and a Tuscaloosa native, was also present at Anders’ fight and wished the former Crimson Tide defender good luck before he stepped into the cage.

Watch the full video of Anders’ fight and post-fight interview below:

Thanks to WVUA23 for the video.

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