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GLENDALE, ARIZONA - JUNE 12: Eryk Anders reacts after his victory over Darren Stewart of England in their light heavyweight fight during the UFC 263 event at Gila River Arena on June 12, 2021 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

Eryk Anders Embraces The 'Humbling' MMA Experience

Heading Into UFC Fight Night: Holm vs Vieira, Eryk Anders Expects To Learn A Lot About Himself On May 21

As soon as Eryk Anders walked on the mats with two of jiu-jitsu’s greatest practitioners – John Danaher and Gordon Ryan – he knew it was going to be different.

“That's one of the gyms where you walk in and of course, everybody's like, ‘What belt are you?’ and this, that and a third,” Anders recalled of the March work he got in with the pair. “And I'm a brown belt, but I'm almost ashamed to say it to those guys because I'm getting served and messed up by their blue and purple belts. It's just a different game, a different system, and something to get used to.”

Fight By Fight Preview | UFC Fight Night: Holm vs Vieira

But when he left, he had learned a lot and filled in more pieces of the puzzle that is a mixed martial artist’s career. It doesn’t matter that he’s a UFC fighter with more than a dozen Octagon appearances under his belt. As far as Anders is concerned, being humble and open to learning at all times is key to his success.

Eryk Anders punches Rafael Natal of Brazil in their middleweight bout during the UFC Fight Night event inside the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on July 22, 2017 in Uniondale, New York. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC)

Eryk Anders punches Rafael Natal of Brazil in their middleweight bout during the UFC Fight Night event inside the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on July 22, 2017 in Uniondale, New York. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC)

“I've always had a little swagger about myself, a little confidence, but ever since I really started MMA, that's the most humbling thing ever to get beat up on a daily basis,” said Anders, a former star linebacker for the University of Alabama. “It puts you in your place and there is no hiding. In a football locker room, there's two or three guys no one really wants to mess with, whether it's the quarterback because he's the quarterback, or a big offensive lineman - no one's really trying to try those guys, but I think there's no hiding from yourself in MMA.”

Come on, Anders, you know you took those linemen on a time or two. 

“We used to wrestle around a little bit, but when it's not on a daily basis, you kinda forget what happened yesterday,” he laughs. “But with MMA, you get reminded the next day and the day after that. You definitely have a perspective switch and it's definitely a more humbling experience.”

VEGAS MAIN EVENT FEATURES: Holly Holm | Ketlen Vieira

Yet with each experience like that, a fighter like Anders gets better, and while he is open to traveling to different gyms to get different looks, home is certainly where he’s spent his last few camps – Fight Ready in Scottsdale, Arizona 

Fight Ready MMA Specializes In The Details | UFC News Gym Visit
Fight Ready MMA Specializes In The Details | UFC News Gym Visit

“I really like it here,” he said. “I’m still learning, still evolving, and Eddie Cha and Santino (DeFranco), I think they're some of the better minds in the sport, and they're around guys like the Korean Zombie (Chan Sung Jung), Henry Cejudo, (Zhang) Weili and Deiveson Figueiredo all the time, so they have a lot of fight experience. They know what sticks, what to bring to the table, what didn't work so well - they just have a plethora of experience, and I think that's the thing that you need the most when it comes to fight, especially from the coaching staff.”

With his training situation set, the next step for the 35-year-old is putting everything he’s learned over the years into each and every fight, not just every other trip to the Octagon.

“The thing with me is taking practice into the cage,” he said. “I think the thing that separates the champions from everyone else and the greats from everyone else is consistency in performance. And that's one thing you haven't seen out of me. One fight I look like a world beater, the next fight I get submitted in the first round. I don't think it's so much like a coaching thing; I think it's a me thing, and something I gotta figure out, how to show up time in and time out.”

Will he have it figured out by this Saturday, when he looks to bounce back from a December loss to Andre Muniz by beating Junyong Park in Las Vegas?

“I hope so,” he said. “This fight will tell a lot.”

Eryk Anders Training For UFC 263

Eryk Anders trains at Fight Ready MMA in Scottsdale, Arizona. 

It will, but you can hear in Anders’ voice that he feels like things are clicking, or should I say not clicking in his neck, as he healed up some nagging injuries since the Muniz fight.

Fighters on the Rise | UFC Fight Night: Holm vs Vieira

“It's different when you can train a hundred percent and when you just feel good,” he said. “You're waking up and it doesn't take 30 minutes to maneuver up and get stretched just to get out of bed to go to practice. I'm feeling great, and especially after my last fight, I'm highly motivated to go in there and get a win.”

If he does, it’s back on the positive side of the ledger and the rest of the year will get very interesting for the middleweight veteran. But he’s not looking that far ahead.

“We just have a one fight forecast,” Anders said. “We'll get past this fight and see how it goes, and then we'll see when they're about to have me back. I really don't turn nothing down but my collar, so we'll see what the future holds.”

UFC Fight Night: Holm vs Vieira took place on Saturday, May 21, 2022 at the UFC APEX in Las Vegas. See the Final ResultsOfficial Scorecards and Who Won Bonuses — and relive all of the action on UFC Fight Pass.