Eryk Anders got some great news at the beginning of the week. His opponent in this Saturday's fight, Chase Horton, was sick.
OK, OK, so Anders wasn't doing cartwheels at the thought of another fighter becoming ill. But, Horton's ailment meant that their fight for Strike Hard Productions in Tuscaloosa, Ala., on Saturday would be contested at 200 pounds -- not the originally agreed-to 185 pounds.
Since Anders was already at 200 pounds when he got the call, he figured a little celebration was in order.
"I'm sitting here eating McDonald's as we speak," Anders said. "I'm so happy."
He's got a couple of reasons to be happy about this next bout. Not only did he get the chance to chow down on some drive-thru grub, the surroundings of this next bout bring the former University of Alabama linebacker to very familiar territory. Anders, who made his amateur debut in mixed martial arts at the beginning of this year, said he'd been wanting to take a fight in Tuscaloosa for quite some time.
As a senior in 2009, the Crimson Tide won the BCS championship and it was Anders who made one of the biggest plays in that showcase -- a brutal blindside hit of Texas quarterback Garrett Gilbert that the Tide returned for a game-deciding touchdown. That game remains Anders' biggest highlight in any athletic endeavor, but MMA has a different appeal.
"Everything's on me in the cage," he said. "I can't blame the safety for getting burnt on a pass or the running back fumbling a ball. If I lose a fight or win a fight, it's because of me. No excuses."
Anders, who is the current ISKA Light Heavyweight Champion in the state of Tennessee, still says he'd like to take at least one fight in the middleweight division while still an amateur. For a little perspective, during his days at Alabama, Anders walked around at about 230 pounds during the season. Having to cut weight - as opposed to pack on the pounds -- isn't as daunting as one might think for Anders.
"I've never been able to put on weight. I always had to do so much, eat so much," Anders recalled from his days playing for the Crimson Tide.
The way Anders sees it, weight management in both sports comes down to one thing -- trying to establish yourself as the bigger and stronger guy once competition begins.
"A lot of people drop a lot of weight to fight as light as they can. I think that depletes you too much," said Anders, who splits his time training at Champions Freestyle in Birmingham and Maverick BJJ in Huntsville. "I try to keep my weight around 210, 215 as best as possible.
"At 205, I really don't cut any weight for that," he added. "If I know about a fight a month or two in advance, I have plenty of time to switch my diet and get back down to 185 pounds."
Anders already has another fight lined up -- a defense of his ISKA title against Nathan Gaylord at 3FC 14 on Nov. 10 in Chattanooga. Anders and Gaylord already went head-to-head once this summer, with Anders winning via split decision.
"He's a tough dude, man. Those are the kind of dudes I want to fight," Anders said. "The whole point of this is to be a competitor and test your skills. You're not gonna be able to do that in two-punch fights. I want to fight guys that make me push myself to a decision. I'm excited to fight him again."
Meanwhile, any decision on a pro career is on hold until at least the end of the year.
"If I run out of good competition in Alabama as an amateur, then I'll be ready to take that next step," he said.
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