Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Former Tide linebacker takes a swing at mixed martial arts


To most Alabama fans, former Crimson Tide linebacker Eryk Anders is best remembered for his explosive pass rushing ability and his game-clinching forced fumble in the 2009 BCS Championship game. Anders will try to make a name for himself in a different sport as he returns Saturday to Tuscaloosa to fight in the 185-205 weight class in the amateur mixed martial arts event Strike Hard 19.

A former wrestler in high school, Anders has had a seamless transition from football to MMA, with a 7-1 record, including winning his last five matches. But this weekend will pit him up against his toughest match up yet as he faces undefeated Chase Horton, who is considered by many experts to be one of the best fighters in the southeast. Anders is looking forward to the opportunity of really getting to test his abilities.

“It’s exciting to actually get to put my skills to the test,” Anders said. “That’s the whole purpose of the sport. It’s not fun just going out there and knocking someone out in 20 seconds.”

What should give Anders an edge will be being able to fight in front of the Crimson Tide fans that have supported him throughout his career. Anders is ecstatic about the chance of being able to prove himself in front of the Crimson faithful, especially in a fight as important as this one.

“I feel like it will be a home game,” he said. “I’m really excited for it. I’ve been looking forward to it for a long time.”

A win in the fight would be a huge step for Anders’ career and would give him an opportunity to turn professional. But Anders isn’t worried about his future in MMA; he mostly got into the sport because he was wanting something to do with football being over, and his wrestling background turned him to MMA. For now, he is just excited to be able to compete and enjoy the ride as it goes.

“I would come home and have nothing to do, and that’s just not me,” Anders said. “[I’ve] got to be moving and have stuff to do. I kind of got into jin-jitsu and did a little boxing, and it all went from there. I’m just going to do it, see how it goes and ride it until the wheels fall off.”

Strike Hard 19, hosted by Strike Hard Productions, will also feature many other fights, including Paul Anders and Kevin Fitzpatrick competing for the heavyweight title. The event will start at 7 p.m. Saturday night and will take place at the Killer Buzz Arena, located at Sticks ‘N’ Stuff’s previous location in McFarland Mall. General admission is $30.

Career stats at Alabama:

Games played: 46

Tackles: 98

Tackles for loss: 19

Sacks: 8.5

Forced fumbles: 5

Fumble recoveries: 1

Interceptions: 1

Passes defended: 4

MMA stats:

Height: 6’0”

Weight: 205 lbs.

Record: 7-1

Debut: January 28, 2012 vs. Zach Howell

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