In January 2009, Eryk Anders played in his last football game for the Alabama Crimson Tide, in the 2010 BCS National Championship against the Texas Longhorns.
With three minutes remaining in the game, Anders nailed the opposing quarterback, forcing a fumble in which Alabama would recover to clinch their thirteenth national title.
Fast-forward six years and Anders has yet to end his athletic career. However, he is no longer a football player, but a fighter within the sport of Mixed Martial Arts.
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Following a trial at professional football with the Cleveland Browns, Arena Football and the Canadian Football league, Anders knew it was time to give up the game.
Anders returned to the state of Alabama to find work.
“I happened to run into a guy named Walt Harris through a mutual friend, and he told me to come down to the gym. I thought I could fight before that, as it turned out I wasn’t so good at the time, he beat me up pretty good,” said Anders.
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The new obstacle attracted Anders. After competing within the amateur level for several years, Anders amassed a record of 18-3-1, with seven total knockouts. However, when it comes to training, Ander’s epitomizes the hard working athlete:
“I have always been a blue collar hard working, show up early stay late kind of guy,” said Anders.
His training regime composes of 4:30 AM morning rises on week days, in which he trains for several hours in the morning before putting in a 8 AM to 5 PM shift at his work. Even on the weekends, Anders will work out in the gym for the majority of the day, training in each of the three MMA domains: jiu-jitsu, muay thai and kick-boxing.
Anders has had to change his physical structure for fighting. As a football player, he would typically be around 245 pounds. However, now as a fighter he competes within the 185 pound weight division.
In some ways the experience for Anders of walking into the cage before a fight is comparable to running down the tunnel towards the field of Bryant-Denny Stadium.
“When I get into the cage, I have 100% confidence that I am going to win. Obviously it does not always work out like that, as I’ve lost three times,” he said.
“I hate losing more than I love winning, and that is how I have always been.”
Anders is attracted to the individuality of the sport. No longer does he have 10 teammates with him and he isn't facing up against the opposing eleven. Now it is just him, one-on-one, facing his competitor within the cage.
Anders trains in Spartan Fitness in Homewood, Alabama, in which he is coached by three separate individuals: Jimmy Cuneo for boxing, George Webbie for jiu-jitsu, and Chris Connely who is the owner of Spartan fitness.
Conley has helped several MMA fighters reach Ander’s ultimate goal, the level of UFC. Eryk is sponsored by: InVision Ophthalmology, Advance Capture Technology and Alabama Nation.
On August 22nd, Eryk Anders will make his professional MMA debut in Tuscaloosa, promoted by StrikeHard Productions. The Alabama football legend will be making his professional fighting debut in front of the hometown fans.
Anders possesses all the key elements and essentials to make a run in the sport of MMA: the ability to train hard, dedication, a warrior mentality, and an elite supporting cast that surrounds him at Spartan Fitness.