Eryk Anders (11-2 MMA, 3-2 UFC) is slated to return to the Octagon at UFC 231 next month against hometown favorite Elias Theodorou (15-2 MMA, 7-2 UFC), and the fight is a long time coming.
Anders has been calling for a bout with Theodorou since soon after his own UFC debut in July 2017. The two have since had numerous Twitter back-and-forths over the past 15 months, but now the two are finally set to meet.
“I don’t have any personal qualms towards Theodorou or ill-feelings towards Theodorou,” Anders told MMASucka. “I’m not his biggest fan or anything like that neither. I just wanted to get the fight. I said his name, got the fight, and here we are. And I really don’t know or care how he feels about me. I’m going to go out there and try and do what I do and knock him out. I’m sure that he’s not my fan neither, but it is what it is.”
Anders vs. Theodorou
Since Anders originally called out Theodorou after his knockout win over Rafael Natal, he’s gone 2-2 in the UFC with a unanimous decision over Markus Perez and a Knockout of the Year candidate against Tim Williams. However, his losses have been against ranked competitors like Lyoto Machida and Thiago Santos. The Machida loss was a split decision in Machida’s hometown of Belem, Brazil, while he took the Santos fight on very short notice at light heavyweight.
“I’ve never lost twice in a row,” Anders said. “I’m looking to get in there, rebound and make a statement. I’m 1-2 on the year so far, but I’ve got two bonuses from exciting fights. My stock went way up this year. Obviously I’d like to have those two losses back but you can’t go back in time.”
And so he prepares for Theodorou, who’s on a two-fight winning streak and has won four of five. “The Spartan” holds wins over Sam Alvey, Cezar Ferreira and Daniel Kelly.
Anders feels a win over No. 14-ranked middleweight Theodorou would be the biggest of his career, but believes Theodorou is his third toughest challenge, behind Santos and Machida.
“Ya Boy” likes the match-up, and the two contradictory styles the fight will present. Anders said it’s “no secret” he plans to keep his range, where he has the most power to knock his opponent out. He believes Theodorou will get close and clinch up, because he’d be playing with fire on the outside.
“I definitely feel like I’m better everywhere”
Theodorou has earned the reputation of being an intelligent fighter who carefully tailors his game plans to specific opponents, but Anders isn’t all that impressed.
“In all honesty, I don’t think that he’s as cerebral as anybody thinks he is,” Anders said. “I think he’s just random and throws random, goofy stuff, striking-wise. He doesn’t really set anything up. He’s just kind of mashing buttons, if you will.
“I don’t think he brings anything that I haven’t seen before. I definitely feel like I’m better everywhere. On the ground, if I should end up on my back, I’m more than confident I’ll be able to get up or sweep him. If I get on top, I’m more than confident I could finish him with some ground and pound.”
UFC 231 goes down in Toronto’s Scotiabank Arena, which is Theodorou’s backyard. As a result, Anders said he intends to finish Theodorou and keep the fight out of the judges’ hands.
“Just watching films, there are fights that he’s had in Toronto in the same arena that he possibly could’ve lost, but I think that fighting somebody else’s hometown is starting a point down,” he said. “I’ve definitely got some making up to do so I’m coming at him with a lot of volume.”
Catch UFC 231 on December 8.
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