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UFC Vegas 14: Eryk Anders vs. Antonio Arroyo Preview

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Before the awesome main event between 5 day notice fill-in Paul Felder and former champ Rafael Dos Anjos, we are welcomed by a middleweight clash. Where we see Eryk Anders (13-5) taking on Antonio Arroyo (9-3). Let’s jump right in!

Eryk Anders

ANTA, GA – APRIL 13: Eryk Anders waits backstage during the UFC 236 event at State Farm Arena on April 13, 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Mike Roach/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

This 33 year old former Alabama Crimson Tide star linebacker began his amateur mma career in 2012. By 2017, “Ya Boi” was making his UFC debut as a late replacement. That night, Eryk Anders finished his opponent Rafael Natal in the first round via KO. Since then, it’s been a rocky road. He’s 5-5 in the UFC. Coming off a Unanimous Decision loss to Krzysztof Jotko back in May of this year.

“Ya Boi” was angry about his performance that fight. Feeling like he put on a boring display for the fans. On Just Scrap Radio via; he explained his feelings.

“I’m super embarrassed by my performance. That is not how I fight and I’ve never fought like that before. I usually have a 24-hour rule where after 24 hours I get over it and move on. That one has been eating me, not because I lost but by how I performed. That is not my style. I’m looking to get back in there and be me.”

Accepting this fight on two weeks notice as a late replacement, and being the huge middleweight that he is; “Ya Boi” is also expecting a hard weight-cut for this fight. However, he fully intends to make weight. Saying; “I’ll get it done and hit 186 on the dot. I get in where I fit in. Light Heavyweight, middleweight, whatever they offer.” (Source)

10 fights deep into his UFC career, we’ve seen the ups and downs. Anders is 2-4 in his last 6 bouts. This fights gotta be tremendously important to him, as his UFC career could potentially be at stake if he goes on another losing streak here.

Eryk Anders’ first real test was a main-event fight against Lyoto Machida at UFC Fight Night 125, back in 2018. Sadly, “Ya Boi” would suffer his first professional loss, dropping a split decision to the karate-style legend. After that, he’d bounce back with a KO via head kick over Tim Williams. Then, suffer a TKO at the hands of Thiago Santos; in Anders’ Light Heavyweight debut. There’s also another notable loss; against Khalil Rountree Jr, where they went the distance and Khalil was victorious via UD.

What’s the point of bringing up this long-winded account of past losses, you might ask? It’s to point out that he’s got experience. Eryk Anders has been in there with some of the very best, at 185 and 205. While Gerald Meerschaert remains the biggest name under the win column on his resume, it’s the names that have beat “Ya Boi” that interest me the most. That experience is going to give him an edge over a fighter like Arroyo, who hasn’t been exposed to the upper echelon of the UFC like that yet.

Skills and Style

A southpaw power striker who likes to walk his opponents down; Eryk Anders really shines on the feet. While not perfect, he shows a lot of potential. Possessing fearsome power, but a lot of times it’s his technique that really paves the way for it.

That, matched with his pure strength and athleticism, just makes for a dangerous opponent overall. “Ya Boi” boasts an astonishing 80% Takedown Defense Rate, so his opponent will be in for a tough time trying to get him down. In the past, we’ve seen it as a dangerous proposition to undertake. Against Vinicius Moreira, in their bout back in 2019; we saw Eryk Anders capitalize after defending a takedown and comeback with a sequence of strikes that earned him the KO.

See what I mean about his technique really paving the way for his power? Eryk Anders defends the takedown beautifully in the first clip, and in the second we see him capitalize during the scramble. Utilizing his speed and athleticism, and just firing bombs on Moreira as he’s in a vulnerable position getting back to his feet. Notice the first left hand, and how it completely wobbles Vinicius. “Ya Boi” definitely got some big power in that money shot of his.

The power even lies in that right hand too, notice how Gerald curls up after getting touched with it after Anders’ initial shot misses. Wrapping up the film on Eryk Anders, I leave you with this beautiful counter. While not a devastating blow, it just amazes me to see a guy who took up an MMA career later In life slipping and ripping like this:

Antonio Arroyo

Nov 16, 2019; Sao Paolo, BRAZIL; Antonio Arroyo (red gloves) fights Andre Muniz (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Ginsasio do Ibirapuera. Mandatory Credit: Jason Da Silva-USA TODAY Sportsh

Fighting out of Soure, Para, Brazil, this 31-year-old is coming off a unanimous decision loss in his UFC debut to Andre Munoz. Getting his start in the UFC by way of Dana White’s Contender Series, it took him two tries to land the contract.

The man has an undergraduate degree in business and worked as a Marketing Assistant prior to the start of his UFC career. Arroyo has 7 first-round finishes on his resume, and he’s surely looking to bounce back with a win; proving he does belong.

Originally intended to face Andreas Michailidis, the UFC quickly found Eryk Anders as the replacement. With a win here, Antonio Arroyo would cement his place as a true prospect in the stacked 185-pound division.

Skills and Style

A well-rounded fighter; Antonio Arroyo has some dynamic striking, paired with a dangerous skill set on the ground. Arroyo is a brutal kicker, he lets them fly fast and often. They almost look like baseball bats, whizzing thru the air; seeking destruction. Be on the lookout for spinning kicks, and devastating low kicks from this guy.

One thing I would like to see more out of this young prospect; something that the headliner of this card Paul Felder noticed while commentating one of Antonio’s DWCS fights, is that Arroyo could blend his punches and kicks together a lot better. Meaning, use his punches and feints to set his kicks up, or vice versa. Watching him battle, it seems like when he’s coming forward to strike; he’ll throw either a barrage of punches or just a kick or two. Not both together, or after one another, just separately.

A fighter that he really reminds me of, with his beautiful kicks, is the champion Israel Adesanya who has been extremely successful so far, because of his knack for blending his punching and kicking together so well. With Izzy, when he’s not countering and actually on the offensive; he’s always setting you up for something. Utilizing his feints and angles to get you in the spot he wants for his chosen attack. Then, boom, hard fake of the hips to set up a hard punch. Or, movement of the hands, to disguise a low kick.

Here, in the same fight, I mentioned that Felder commentated; we see Arroyo ever so slightly distract his opponent with that left hand. As his opponent attempts to circle off the cage, Antonio explodes suddenly, drawing out a big reaction from Regman. Who, if he hadn’t thrown that hand up to guard; probably would’ve been cleanly knocked out by that kick. Even blocking it somewhat, he’s knocked off his feet.

Dangerous on the ground, the man owns 4 wins by sub, and 4 by KO. With only a single decision win on his resume. Out of 9 wins total, I hope you’re doing the math and seeing this man is a finisher. I can’t for this one, I’ll make the prediction now, and say it ends up being the fight of the night!

Keys to Victory

Eryk Anders

For Eryk Anders, quite simply, he needs to trust in his ability. In this situation, he’s the veteran. He needs to show Antonio Arroyo who’s running this fight from the start, and earn his respect early. How does he do that? This is my favorite part.. by PUNCHING HIM IN THE FACE!

No, but seriously; if he lets Antonio taste that power early, it’s going to help him out a lot. See, Eryk Anders thrives when he’s dictating the tempo. That’s how he can time a grab for the Muay Thai clinch the way he did against Gerald. Also, how he dropped Gerald with the right after missing the left, in that one clip I showed you. If Anders is hoping to win the standup, as he’s mentioned in the lead up to this fight; then that old school striking adage “be first, and third,” will come in handy. Meaning; strike first, and counter your opponents’ counters. In lamen’s terms, hit em, make em miss, then hit them again.

It all sounds so simple right? Well, that leads me to another point. Apply the pressure. You don’t wanna stand in kicking range with a guy who possesses baseball bat’s for legs. You wanna be up in that guys grill, preferably keeping him cooped up against the cage. Where you’re free to back up and kick or do as you please, but your opponent has to circle out to find that space to use his dynamic kicks.

Antonio Arroyo

While many say Antonio will look to bring this fight to the ground, I say that only happens when and if, Arroyo gets caught with some hard punches. See, I just can’t see a striker as explosive and flamboyant as this guy not wanting to test himself against the likes of Anders on the feet. Maybe that’s just my own way of thinking, and Antonio and his coaches are planning on taking the “safer” approach. Who knows.

Anyways, my first key for the young prospect is to utilize your footwork. Facing a pressure fighter like “Ya Boi”, you’d ideally want to keep him at the range of your choosing and work those kicks to stay out of punching range and away from that money-shot left hand. How to slow the pressure down from Anders? Leg kicks. If I’m Antonio’s coach, I’d like to see a lot of them too. Wearing down on those legs will make Eryk Anders more reluctant to bare down on that lead leg and come forward. Also, if you can force a stance change; you’re putting your opponent at a disadvantage.

Another key and this one is kind of obvious by now: be careful in the pocket. Facing a man packing the heat that “Ya Boi” Eryk Anders does, it should go without being said; tread with caution. Undoubtedly, there will be some sort of takedown attempt, clinching against the cage, etc, etc. During scenarios like these, it’s important that Arroyo get his guard up on the break. Meaning, get his hands up to defend himself when the two disengage from any grappling scenario. This is basic dirty boxing at this point, but sometimes the basics become fundamental to winning a fight…


So, as I said, I’ve got high hopes for this one. Here’s how I see it playing out; Arroyo can’t take Anders down, or keep him there for long, and this is a slugfest on the feet. I think if Eryk comes out confident and aggressive, he utilizes his experience and strength to dominate this one. However, my guts just telling me that Antonio is the more well-rounded fighter. His kicks are fast and deadly, he’s improving with every fight; and I think if he does take “Ya Boi” down, he’s more skillful down there. I’ve got Antonio Arroyo by KO in Rd. 1, cuz if it actually happens ill look like a genius. Thanks, folks! That’s it for this one. Hope you had fun, and as always, enjoy the fights!

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Combat Sports and Motorsports Editor. Staff Writer for Overtime Heroics MMA. Named first ever ‘Writer of the Month’ in January 2021 for OTH MMA.