Name: Eryk Anders Age: 28 Height: 6’0 Weight Class: Middleweight Record: 17-3-1 Amateur record, 0-0 Pro Record. Fighting Out Of: Birmingham, Alabama (Spartan MMA & Fitness) Eryk Anders only knew one thing growing up and that was the game of football. Anders had an exceptional collegiate career as a linebacker for the Alabama Crimson Tide and it appeared like his future was going to be in the NFL. “It was kind of like a surreal experience that I just can’t articulate. ” Anders told MMAOddsBreaker. “[Playing NCAA football] was a great experience, I’m glad that I had it. Especially at the University of Alabama, where not having played football in the five years for the university, people still know me and recognize my name for football. It’s not like that at every other Division 1 school. I just appreciate the opportunities I had and the fans at the University of Alabama.” But things didn’t work out as planned. After stints in the NFL, Canadian Football League and eventually the Arena Football league, Anders came the realization that a career in football wasn’t on the horizon. “I got cut from the Cleveland Browns, then I went to Canada – and they can only keep 10 Americans on every team – so I got cut from there. Pretty much at that moment on the flight home, I said to myself if it’s not the NFL I’m not going to play. I’m going to give it a year, give it a shot. If it doesn’t’ work out, it’s cool I did everything I was supposed to do. I worked hard, trained hard, did everything I was supposed to do. I ended up playing Arena football in the Colorado, and had a great time, very thankful for that opportunity. Then when that ended it was time to move onto something else.” While his football career came to a close, Anders still felt like he had something to offer. Through a mutual friend, it was current UFC heavyweight fighter Walt Harris who first introduced him to mixed martial arts. “[My friend] told me about Walt.” Anders explained. “I didn’t know anything about MMA, my whole life was about football. I called Walt up and he told me to come to his gym. I came and he gave me a pretty good beating. Ever since then I’ve fallen in love with the competition of the sport. This is where I want to be, this is what I want to do. That’s just kind of history in the making sort of speak.” Anders followed in the footsteps of UFC fighters like Brock Lesnar, Matt Mitrione and Ovince St Preux who all transitioned from football to MMA. One of the big differences the 28-year old realized right away was his physical frame. During his football tenure Anders was hovering around 250lbs, a frame that was required to take that kind of punishment one endures on the gridiron. But MMA is a much different sport and as Anders found out early, he needed to make some adjustments. “In football the average play lasts six seconds and you get a 30 second break. It’s not like that at all in MMA, it’s a continuous grind. So I had to adjust to the different training regiments. When I first got into MMA I was about 250lbs and the weight just kind of came off naturally. I wasn’t fat or anything, I had muscle. In football you lift weights, you get big and stuff. I kind of changed my workout routine, did a lot of cardio and thinned out. Then I started fighting at 205lbs, and then guys were [recommending] fighting at 185 pounds. Now I’ve been fighting there my last 5-6 fights. It’s just amazing the transformation the human body can go through. To me I would say the biggest advantage is [fighting guys my size]. I was used to locking up with guys who are 350lbs [in my football career].” Anders fights this Saturday (June 20th) at V3 against Jordan Fowler for the promotions vacant middleweight strap. As he always does, Anders is preparing for this fight at Spartan MMA and Fitness. “We have an awesome camp, down there at Spartan Fitness. It’s a room full of competitors where nobody is trying to hurt each other; we’re trying to make everyone better. It’s a mutual respect we have for each other as fighters.” Along with head coach Chris Connelly, one of his biggest mentors throughout his career has been UFC bantamweight Marcus Brimage. “He’s at where I want to be. If I ever got a question, ‘Hey Marcus what’s like this?’ stuff like that, little tips to help you get there. Chris Connelly the head coach at Spartan Fitness, he’s worked with Marcus since day 1, so obviously he has the knowledge and capability of training someone to get to that next level, so that’s very motivating. He’s put two or three people in the UFC. It’s awesome to be in a room where you know you got a shot. The opportunities will be there as long as you do your part. You want to show up and train for the guy, you want to win for Chris Connelly.” While Anders respects his opponent, he feels very confident going into this 185-pound showdown with Fowler, especially if it hits the canvas. “It looks like he’s got a pretty good jiu-jitsu game. That’s why I favour the fight, I feel like my jiu-jitsu and grappling overall is my strong point. I feel that I do that better than he does it, so it will be an interesting fight to see how it goes. Obviously anything can happen, but I fully intend to take home that belt. I just see myself getting my hand raised at the end. I kind of visualized the fight in many different directions. When it goes in one of those directions I’ve already been there mentally. So I’m ready for whatever, obviously anything can happen in the cage. No matter what happens, no matter what type of adversity I get put in. I feel like whether I knock him out, submit him, TKO or ref stoppage, I feel very confident not only in getting the win but getting the finish as well.” Originally this match up was slated to feature V3 middleweight champion Courtney Pitts taking on Fowler, however the champion vacated his title after he earned a professional contract. With that in mind, Anders is fully aware that if he emerges victorious on June 20th, he could soon be making his pro debut as well. “Me, Chris and my manager Charles McCarthy have talked in detail about going pro. We’ve been talking about it for a while now. [Chris and Charles] know where we’re trying to go, obviously I value their opinion and I’m just going to listen to what they say. We all feel that I’m going to make that leap after this fight, so I’m definitely looking forward to that. It doesn’t matter [which promotion], I’m ready for whatever. I’m just ready and excited to see how far I can take this thing, I take it a fight at a time.” You can follow Eryk on Twitter/Instagram @erykanders and he’s like to thank his sponsors inVision Ophalmology, Advanced Caption Technology and Tap Inc. He’d also think to thank his coach Chris Connelly and team at Spartan MMA and Fitness.