Third time's the charm: Anders secures third professional MMA victory with third round TKO

Tyler Waldrep

Former Alabama linebacker and current MMA professional fighter, Eryk Anders, defeated Garrick James by technical knockout shortly after the four minute mark in the final round on Saturday evening in Tuscaloosa. Anders is now 3-0 since his professional debut in Tuscaloosa last August.

James forced Anders to fight all three rounds, but he was unable to do much offensively against Anders. Fellow Spartan Fitness competition team member Kem Oti said there wasn’t a single second where he thought Anders would lose the fight.

“I thought it was going to be quicker, but it goes like that sometimes,” Oti said. “I knew from the start, Eryk always comes in with a good gameplan, he always prepares his body his mind right so there was no worries.”

Anders said he felt like he had the fight locked up early in the first round when he successfully took James to the ground. He expected to win the fight there, but James fought his way free to stay alive in the fight.

“Earlier in the first round I had that choke sunk in fairly deep, but like I said man I can’t say enough about the guy,” Anders said. “Nine times out of 10 people tap to that choke, but he was able to fight through it, get out of it and take it to the third round.”

Anders said he thought he could’ve won the fight then if he had been more patient and settled his positions more. Despite the longer fight, the ease with which he appeared to win with impressed promoter and Strikehard Productions’ co-founder David Elder.

“I think it’s his best performance that I’ve seen,” Elder said. “It wasn’t the most exciting, I’ve seen him knock people out, I’ve seen him break strikes, but as far as a well rounded MMA fighter, I’ve seen Eryk from his very first amateur debut all the way through, and tonight he looked like a super-polished professional.”

The fight of Anders young professional career almost didn’t happen.

On Monday, he received word that his scheduled opponent, Savalas Williams, was injured while training. For a fighter that loves the sport as much as Anders this was devastating news, but then James accepted the fight on a day’s notice and made the 13-hour drive up from Miami on Friday.

At the weigh in, Anders sought James out and thanked him for making the last minute trip up, and after the victory one of the first people he spoke with was James.

“Everybody loves him, especially his opponents,” Oti said. “ After the fight you saw him [Anders] go over to him [James] and just give him a little speech, just words of encouragement that’s his demeanor, that’s his personality and that’s why we love him for it.”

After the fight, Anders said he enjoys being returning to Tuscaloosa, a place where he can compete in front of familiar faces like fellow former Alabama players Tyrone Prothro and Terrence Jones. 

“It’s always great to come back to Tuscaloosa,” Anders said. “I have a lot of memories here and I plan on having a few more down the road.”