Preview: Thiago Santos vs. Eryk Anders
Featured Image Credit: MMA Junkie
This weekend, the UFC returns to Sao Paulo, and it is headlined by Thiago Santos and “Ya Boy” Eryk Anders (all-time nickname) in their Light Heavyweight debuts. Today, I preview that fight and give my prediction.
As I am sure that the UFC will remind listeners often throughout the show, Eryk Anders played college football at Alabama, a perennial power, where we won a national championship and was a starter. Football did not work out for him, so he leveraged his athleticism into a career in MMA. It took only 7 pro fights before he got called up to the UFC, where he holds a record of 3-1 in the promotion, the only loss coming at UFC Belem at the hands of Lyoto Machida in a split decision, although I think he won that fight.
In terms of the skills he brings to the table, he’s a former Golden Gloves champion in Alabama, a current purple belt in Jiu-Jitsu, and he’s just a very athletic guy. He’s coming off of a highlight reel KO of Tim Williams last month with a vicious head kick, displaying that athleticism and power. In a fight against a former Middleweight, Anders will benefit from a similar size and will want to work his jab and keep his range. Truly, there aren’t too many things to split these two, so it will be important for Anders to look for a big shot on Santos, who was finished by David Branch by punches in April. One advantage he may have, however, is his cardio. He went a full 5 rounds against Machida and looked alright at the end of those 5. Santos has gone to a decision as recent as August of this year, but it was only 3 rounds.
Thiago Santos is a former Brazilian Paratrooper who found combat sports after wanting something more aggressive than the Capoeira training he had been doing for 8 years. He is a black belt in Muay Thai and a purple belt in Muay Thai. He made his UFC debut in 2013 when he then had a record of 8-1. In his UFC career, he has accumulate a record of 10-5, not able to put together a good enough run for a title shot.
While he was originally stepping in to fight Jimi Manuwa, this fight’s strategy should be no different: knock out his opponent. Anders has never been finished, with his only losses in both his amateur and professional careers coming by decisions, but Santos is likely one of the heaviest hitters at both Light Heavyweight and Middleweight. With his Muay Thai black belt as well as just seeing highlights, he utilizes a variety of strikes with both his hands and feet, making him much harder to predict. He should look to use this to try to finish the San Antonio, Texas native, and if he should fall short of that goal, he should have done enough damage to win rounds and win the fight.
As for my official prediction, I see Santos taking this one. I think he’s bigger than Anders, and anything that Anders does well, Santos does just as good if not better. He has a more varied striking routine, and I think this is too much for an Eryk Anders who is still young in his MMA career. If you like violent MMA fights, be sure to tune into this one because it should be a BANGER.
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